FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Leading Republican lawmakers vow to work with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to fight COVID-19 after a court ruling paved the way for further limits on the emergency powers of the democratic governor.
Beshear’s allies have said they will be watching to see if the governor’s criticisms follow through.
Kentucky Republicans applauded the state Supreme Court’s ruling on Saturday. The ruling ordered a lower court to dissolve an injunction that had blocked GOP-backed laws for months. It comes as the highly contagious delta variant increases coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Kentucky.
The court ruling “signals that it is time for Republican leaders to publicly present their plan to protect the Commonwealth from this pandemic and the lethal variant of the Delta,” said Rep. Joni Jenkins and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, senior officials. Kentucky House Democrats. and Senate.
âWe know what they can’t stand; show us your plan, âthey added.
Leading legislative Republicans – Speaker of the House David Osborne and Speaker of the Senate Robert Stivers – have said lawmakers are “ready to work with the governor, as we have been doing for almost a year and a half, and to do in the face of what is a real public health crisis â. The GOP holds qualified majorities in both chambers, and Republicans have accused Beshear of taking a self-sufficient approach to dealing with the pandemic.
“Let us be clear that today’s decision does not diminish the severity of this virus or its impact on our community, and the General Assembly will continue to work to uphold both the safety and the rights of all Kentuckians” Osborne and Stivers said in their joint statement on Saturday.
Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has defended the laws in court, urged Beshear to consult with lawmakers and “find consensus on what is needed to protect Kentuckians.”
âIt’s not a new concept; in fact, it is the foundation of our system of government, âhe said.
Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley said the court order would dissolve the state of emergency linked to the pandemic. This would affect actions, including measures to tackle COVID-19 in long-term care facilities and workers’ compensation compensation for frontline workers who contract the virus, she said.
The next step is to determine whether lawmakers are ready to extend the state of emergency while the governor assesses whether to reconvene them, Staley said.
âIf it is called to a special session, we hope that the General Assembly will do the right thing,â she said.
One of the new laws limits governor’s decrees for emergencies to 30 days, unless they are extended by lawmakers. Under another measure, businesses and schools must comply with either the governor’s COVID-19 guidelines or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They could follow the less restrictive standard.
Beshear has imposed capacity limits and other restrictions during much of the pandemic to try to stop the spread of the virus. He lifted most of his restrictions in June.
But with the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Beshear recently signed an executive order imposing an indoor mask mandate on K-12 schools, daycares and preschool programs across Kentucky. This sparked a new round of legal wrangling.
Even Deputy Chief State Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes has pleaded for cooperation. In her concurring opinion on Saturday, she warned that the scourge of COVID-19 was continuing, creating “thorny and seemingly limitless problems.”
“As a judge, and more aptly as a long-time Kentuckian, I implore all parties to this case to lay down their swords and work together to complete this extremely important task for the benefit of the people they serve,” she wrote.
The court ruling came a day after longtime former Kentucky lawmaker Brent Yonts passed away after battling a COVID-19 infection. His obituary indicates that he was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“His family believe his death was preventable, and it is their prayer that all who are eligible get vaccinated to avoid the type of cruel suffering this virus brings,” his obituary said.
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