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Beshear says ‘no politics,’ focus on coronavirus crisis; legislature should do budget and go home


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear told a press briefing on the coronavirus Tuesday that he received a letter from General Assembly leaders asking him to declare an immediate special session so lawmakers could adjourn, then return and address anything they like, without a time limitation.


Beshear responded that he’s done with politics.


 

“We’re here in a state of emergency where we are trying to protect the health of the people out there,” he said. “I’m not playing the Republican or Democrat game, I’m not doing the back and forth. We’ve had a lot of meetings with them, but this crisis is much more important than that.”

Gov. Beshear


He said there are two positions for the legislature: “Number one, stop doing anything else, pass that budget, pass it quickly, take whatever days off you need in the interim, and go home,” he said. “The other option is to go ahead and adjourn, and I will call a special session that will include the budget and anything related to the coronavirus.”


House Democratic leaders Joni Jenkins of Shively, Derrick Graham of Frankfort and Angie Hatton of Whitesburg, said they go along with what the Democratic governor said.


“The House Democratic Caucus agrees wholeheartedly with Governor Beshear that, if the General Assembly continues to meet, it should only focus on passing a budget or ways to help the state respond to COVID-19,” they said in a joint statement issued after his remarks. 


“Instead, at a time when substantial sections of the economy are having to close their doors, six House committees will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to consider 20 bills. We should not be conducting public policy when the public is not even allowed in the Capitol – and we should not put people at risk of contracting this virus when experts say groups should be limited to 10 or less.  We need to pass a budget and adjourn or adjourn and return later in special session to pass the state budget.”


Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, also issued a response to Beshear’s comments.


“We appreciate the work of the governor and his cabinet in their effort to keep the public informed during the ever-evolving COVID-19 outbreak,” he said. “The General Assembly is resuming its legislative business, and we are vigorously working to finish the job and pass the biennial budget under which the executive, legislative, and judicial branches will operate for the next two years. Under the constitutional mandate that we adjourn by April 15 and our mandate to pass a balanced budget, the legislature is expediting these measures as fast as possible. There are other bills we can consider and achieve final passage while doing our constitutionally mandated jobs in the constitutionally allowed time we have available.


“We are not being political, and under the logistical and constitutional parameters before us, the General Assembly cannot complete its work any earlier than mid to late next week. We will continue to conduct our business while adhering to the recommended social distancing protocols and other feasible etiquettes in order to complete our constitutional requirements in the mandated time.”


He said individuals wishing to testify on pending legislation before a committee should reach out to the offices of the Senate President or Speaker of the House to make arrangements.


“Again, we appreciate the work of the administration and will continue all we can do to move Kentucky forward in these unprecedented time,” Stivers said


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