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The Kentucky Association of Counties

Lawmakers send six priority bills to Governor in first week of 2021 session

By Shellie Hampton
On a rare Saturday work day, legislators finalized bills limiting a Governor’s authority, allowing entities to remain open during the current or future state of emergency, and more.

House priorities that saw final passage today included House bills 1, 2 and 5. Senate priorities headed to the Governor’s desk included Senate bills 1, 2 and 9. It’s widely expected many of these will be vetoed, but the super majorities in both chambers all but guarantee an override. 

Traditionally, the legislature conducts a four-day opening work week during the short 30-day session, but leaders in both chambers have said for weeks they would work to move some of their priorities during the first week. In addition to adding a Saturday work day, the General Assembly will also move three legislative days to next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 11 – 13) before breaking until Tuesday, Feb. 2, when legislators will have 22 working days left to finish their work. The primary focus for next week in both chambers will be budget bills. 

All measures passed today contain an emergency clause. This means they will become law upon the Governor’s signature, or after ten days with no signature unless vetoed by the Governor, in which case a successful override vote by both chambers results in the law becoming effective. 

HB 1- sponsored by Rep. Bart Rowland, relating to “reopening the economy in the Commonwealth” covers many topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic including allowing local governments, businesses and schools to reopen as long as they develop a safety reopening plan following CDC guidelines and post the plan outside the building. HB 1 also suspends interest on unpaid unemployment insurance contributions and extends the due date from April 30 to Dec. 31, 2021, provides guidelines for noncustodial parental visitation and provides guidelines for visitation at long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 state of emergency. 

HB 2 - sponsored by Rep. Joseph Fischer, would remove the requirement for Attorney General to receive certification from the state Health and Family Services Cabinet before addressing violations of abortion providers. 

HB 5 - sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith, removes provisions related to the authority of a Governor to temporarily reorganize a board, commission or cabinet. HB 5 will require a Governor to present his/her reorganization plan to the Legislative Research Commission. The Legislative Research Commissioner (LRD) or the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee may monitor the implementation of any reorganization plan and shall report its findings to the General Assembly.

SB 1 - sponsored by Sen. Matt Castlen, amends KRS 39A to limit the effective dates of executive orders issued by the Governor to 30 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly. The bill also includes the same limit on emergency orders issued by local chief executives, however, local chief executive or local legislative bodies may request an extension of the executive order. 

SB 2 - sponsored by Sen. Steve West, amends KRS 39A to alter the process of the approval of executive branch administrative regulations, allowing some to expire after 30 days if they imposed restrictions on gatherings or mandatory quarantine. 

SB 9 - sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, requires an infant born alive to be given appropriate medical care to preserve life and increases penalties on providers who violate provisions up to revocation of their license and felony charges. 


Follow KACo on Twitter @KACo and on Facebook throughout the session for the latest legislative action impacting counties. 

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