FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge has temporarily blocked another attempt by Republican lawmakers to restrict Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd extended a temporary injunction Wednesday to apply to a measure passed over the governor’s veto. It specifies which of Beshear’s pandemic-related orders would remain in place should the legislature win its a legal fight with the governor.
House Joint Resolution 77 was a response to Shepherd’s previous order temporarily blocking Republican-backed laws that threatened to invalidate Beshear’s COVID-related orders.
Shepherd said HJR77 was a mechanism to “terminate a broad range of executive actions in the field of public health that constitute the state’s attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
He said it’s unclear whether the proposed termination of Beshear’s COVID orders under HJR77 supersedes the governor’s executive authority under public health laws.
“Until this issue has been resolved, it would create a great public harm and would undermine effective public health requirements to allow the temporary suspension or termination of the governor’s public health orders,” Shepherd wrote.
Beshear’s office said the ruling maintains his authority “to take executive action to protect Kentuckians and save lives” during the pandemic.
Republican legislative leaders didn’t immediately respond to emails to their offices seeking comment.