Beshear Signs Bill Extending COVID Emergency Orders

The General Assembly sent a bill to Governor Andy Beshear on Thursday that continues many of the COVID emergency response provisions passed in the 2021 session. Senate Bill 25 allows cities to continue to conduct meetings virtually, extends liability protections, and provides flexibility for retired first responders to return to work. The bill contains an emergency clause, so it became law immediately upon the governor signing the bill on Friday.

Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) filed the bill to provide schools 10 additional non-traditional instruction (NTI) days. The House added the additional COVID provisions. Many of the pandemic emergency measures legislators adopted in 2021 will expire on Saturday. Senate Bill 25 extends the language through April 14.

The measure also extends the language of Senate Bill 5 from the 2021 Regular Session. That KLC initiative protects local governments and businesses from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits. Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) sponsored the bill tailored explicitly for the current pandemic.

Senate Bill 25 also extends the following:

  • Senate Bill 150, passed in the 2020 session, which allows cities to conduct meetings virtually; suspends statutes and deadlines for land use, planning and zoning, and code enforcement hearings; and permits cities to suspend the collection of net profits or gross receipts taxes. On December 13, 2021, the Kentucky Office of Attorney General issued opinion 21-ORD-251, which determined that the provisions of SB 150 amending the Kentucky Open Records Act expired on June 29, 2021. Local governments have five business days, instead of 10, to provide public records requested under the act and must allow in-person inspection of public records during normal business hours.
  • Executive Order 2020-265, which allows employers in the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) to reemploy retired police officers, emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, and firefighters. Read about the executive order and rules cities must follow here.
  • Guidelines the Finance and Administration Cabinet adopted in 2021 for the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority Drinking Water and Wastewater Grant Program. The bill extends those through June 28, 2022.
  • Energy and Environment Cabinet bulletin dated March 26, 2020, that provides flexibility in compliance with regulations that govern solid waste management facilities in handling, storage, and disposal of solid waste and recycling materials.
  • Energy and Environment Cabinet memorandum from the secretary dated March 26, 2020, that suspends staffing requirements for drinking and wastewater treatment facilities when a violation results from COVID-19 illness, quarantine, or social distancing. Facilities must provide notice and request assistance from the Division of Water to receive authorization to implement an alternative plan. Operators will not be penalized with late fees for drinking water certification renewals to allow additional time to obtain continuing education credits.
  • An emergency regulation utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help pay past-due water and wastewater bills.

Each school within a district can utilize 10 additional remote instruction days through the remainder of the school year. Previously, districts only had 10 days for the entire school system. Superintendents would have the freedom to move specific classrooms, grades, or schools experiencing increased COVID-19 cases to temporary remote instruction instead of closing the entire school or district.

Read the language in Senate Bill 25 here.