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Bills limiting governor's executive powers draw vetoes

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:05:28-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday vetoed bills passed by Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature that would limit his executive powers to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Lawmakers completed fast-track work on the measures in a rare Saturday session earlier this month that dominated the early part of this year’s 30-day session. GOP lawmakers have the numbers to override any vetoes when they resume their session next month.

In defending his vetoes, Beshear said the measures would hamper the state’s efforts to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic until vaccinations become widespread.

The governor also said the bills would amount to an unconstitutional restriction on a governor’s ability to respond to emergencies. His comments could foreshadow a legal battle over the measures if the legislature overrides the vetoes. But the governor signaled Tuesday that he’s willing to discuss possible compromises with legislative leaders.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court last year upheld the governor’s authority to issue coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and individuals to try to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Republican lawmakers accuse Beshear of overreaching with his series of emergency restrictions on businesses, schools and individuals, claiming the orders were arbitrary and uneven in application.