During a Saturday afternoon news conference, Governor Andy Beshear announced he called legislators to the Capitol for a special legislative session that will begin at 10 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 7. Read the proclamation here.
“The commonwealth is in a state of emergency,” Beshear said. “The Delta variant is spreading at a rate never seen before.”
Special legislative sessions are limited to the focus outlined by the governor. Beshear noted what he would ask lawmakers to consider:
- Extending the state of emergency until January 15, 2022
- Reviewing executive orders and agency and cabinet orders
- Determining the governor’s ability to require masking in certain situations, depending on where the pandemic goes and how bad an area is
- Appropriating funding to further the fight against the pandemic, including leftover money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was not needed for items already appropriated
- Providing schools with flexibility
The special session call came as no surprise. Earlier in the week, lawmakers began specially called meetings to discuss pandemic policies. Two weeks ago, Kentucky’s Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of lawmakers in a suit filed by Beshear that challenged laws restricting a governor’s power to file emergency orders.
While COVID-19 response policy will be the primary focus, Beshear said other items not directly connected to the pandemic would also be discussed.
Beshear asked lawmakers to extend for another 30 to 45 days the state of emergency in Nicholas County for the flooding in the City of Carlisle.
He also wants the General Assembly to provide the Cabinet for Economic Development flexibility for projects over $2 billion.
Flexibility along the “Glendale Site,” Beshear said, was a third focus he wants legislators to consider. He described that site as a “mega-site” along I-65 that is ready for development.
Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) released the following statement: “We have been engaged in conversations with the governor about a potential call for a special session. While we are not yet in agreement regarding the specific language of the legislation we will consider, we are continuing discussions and have agreed it is in the best interests of our commonwealth to move forward with the call. The proposals provided to the administration are the culmination of 18 months of research, discussion, and input from groups and individuals directly engaged in responding to this pandemic. Members of the House remain committed to acting on behalf of their constituents in an effective and efficient manner.”
The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) reached out to legislative leadership and Governor Beshear to advocate for home rule status and to request that they stand against any measure filed in the special session that would change or enact additional preemptions. Additionally, KLC requested that the session include an extension of virtual meeting options provided in Senate Bill 150 (2020) and an extension of liability protections included in Senate Bill 5 (2021).