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Beshear Vetoes Bills Limiting Presumption Order; Override Looms

Monday, January 25, 2021 | 257 | 0 | 34 min read

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed two bills that would limit a broad COVID-19 workers' compensation presumption order, but Republican lawmakers are expected to try to override the move when they return to session next month.

Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear

The Democratic governor's veto was expected after lawmakers approved several measures designed to rein in his executive action authority. Early in the pandemic, the governor issued a number of orders that restricted business hours and public gatherings, and created a presumption that most essential workers who fall ill from COVID-19 contracted it at the workplace.

The state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the orders, but lawmakers moved to restrict the governor's authority. SB 1 and SB 2, approved by the Kentucky General Assembly on Jan. 9, would have limited the duration of governors' emergency orders to 30 days.

Speaking this week, Beshear said the bills would hurt efforts to curtail the spread of the virus.

"We've done a better job than all of our neighboring states at keeping our people alive," Beshear said, according to the Louisville newspaper. "Let's not backtrack on that, especially now that we are vaccinating people — in fact, vaccinating them at a rate higher than the supply we're getting."

Lawmakers return Feb. 2. Republicans own a supermajority in both chambers, and some have already suggested that the General Assembly will vote to override.

Beshear said he hopes to see “if there is common ground that doesn't violate the Constitution, that gives the flexibility we need for what appears to be a mutating virus," according to the newspaper.

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