Special Session - Day 1 Update
The Kentucky General Assembly convened this morning for the first day of the special session. Governor Beshear and legislative leaders worked over the past few weeks to reach agreement on the agenda for the special session. It's expected that the session will conclude by week's end, as legislative leaders have indicated they hope to finish the business at hand on Thursday.
Both the House and the Senate filed the same legislation focusing on these issues. There is a procedural strategy behind this action - a bill is required to be given three readings in each chamber on separate days unless those readings are procedurally dispensed with. In order to avoid using the procedural process, the General Assembly believes simultaneously passing these identical bills through the legislative process at the same time in each chamber fulfills their duties in the legislative process and thus allowing them to conclude their business on Thursday.
House Joint Resolution 1 - Final Passage
The most noteworthy action today was the introduction and final passage of HJR 1, sponsored by Speaker Osborne. HJR 1 extends many of the Governor's COVID executive orders through January 15. HJR includes the extension of liability protections for employers, passed earlier this year as SB 5. Other issues addressed include the extension of a state of emergency order for Nicholas County due to flooding. Certain procedural rules were waived so that the resolution could pass both chambers and be delivered to the Governor's desk for consideration today. It is expected he will sign HJR 1 this evening.
Other Bill Introductions and Actions
EDUCATION: SB 1 & HB 1 - Nullifies regulations mandating masks by the KY Department of Education and provides instruction flexibility to school districts. SB 1 passed the Senate Education Committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills from members of both parties.
HEALTHCARE & FACILITIES: SB 2 & HB 2 - Does away with emergency regulations filed by the administration related to masking and provides assistance to healthcare organizations testing for and treating COVID. HB 2 passed the House Health and Family Services committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills.
AARPA APPROPRIATION: SB 3 & HB 3 - Appropriates funding to relieve pressures in healthcare, long term care, and education systems. Provides more funding for COVID testing, monoclonal antibody treatment, and "test and stay" COVID testing for schools; it also reduces ARPA funding to the Unemployment Services beginning in FY 22. SB 3 will be heard tomorrow in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills.
SB 6 - Very similar to SB 2, SB 6 provides healthcare-related COVID-19 measures including allowing all visitors in long-term care facilities, establishing COVID-19 antibody treatment centers, and creating incentives for vaccine promotion in healthcare settings
SB 7 - Very similar to SB 3, SB 7 appropriates funding to assist with COVID pressures throughout the healthcare, long term care, and education systems. It also cuts the appropriated ARPA funding to the Unemployment Services.
Tomorrow the Senate convenes at 9am and the House convenes at 10. Various House and Senate legislative committees will be meeting to continue moving the bills that were introduced today. You can watch all the legislative proceedings live on the KET-KY channel, or online on KET or the LRC's YouTube channel.