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Republican lawmakers flex muscle in setting COVID policies

Kentucky Legislature
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 21:27:53-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Asserting its role in setting COVID-19 policies, the Kentucky House voted Thursday to block the governor from temporarily closing schools and businesses that comply with federal guidelines.

Continuing a fast-paced opening week, the Republican-led House easily passed the top-priority bill, sending it to the GOP-dominated Senate. The measure seeks to guarantee that Kentucky businesses and schools stay open amid the pandemic if they meet federal virus-related guidelines.

“I’m voting ‘yes’ today ... because we, the policymaking branch of government, should be involved in these decisions that affect every Kentuckian,” Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy said.

The bill and similar bills reflect mounting GOP frustration with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s use of his executive authority amid the health crisis. His restrictions on businesses, schools and individuals to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus have increasingly become politicized.

The bill drew opposition from House Democrats. Rep. Angie Hatton said lawmakers should let the governor “do his job” in defeating the virus, which is needed to fully reopen the economy.

Democratic Rep. Patti Minter said the state would cede authority to CDC guidelines if the bill becomes law. She warned some business owners could “get an ugly surprise,” because those federal guidelines can be stricter than standards in Beshear’s orders.