Special Session - Sine Die Update
The General Assembly completed their work tonight for the 2021 Special Legislative Session and have adjourned Sine Die. But not before sending the Governor four bills, two of which he signed and two that he vetoed. Subsequently, the General Assembly voted to override those vetoes bringing all four bills into law.
Thus, this third and final day of the 2021 Special Session was, as expected, busy and chaotic. As anticipated, the General Assembly used procedural strategy to shorten the normal 5-days required to pass a bill down to three days speeding up the session. Ultimately, the following proposals became law:
EDUCATION: Senate Bill 1/House Bill 1 received much debate in both the House and the Senate. These bills nullify regulations mandating masks by the KY Department of Education and provide instruction flexibility to school districts. Some legislators felt the bill did not go far enough in giving flexibility to schools, while others felt it went too far by allowing for mask mandates on the local level. Several amendments to try and both broaden and shrink the parameters of the bill were filed, but ultimately none were adopted. Senate Bill 1, was the vehicle passed by the Senate 28-8 and the House 70-25. Vetoed by Governor & Overridden by Senate 22-6 & House 69-24 - September 9
HEALTHCARE: Senate Bill 2/House Bill 2 were also hotly contested. These identical bills do away with emergency regulations filed by the administration related to masking and provide assistance to healthcare organizations for testing and treating COVID. None of the floor amendments, many of which could have impacted employer's rights, were not adopted. Senate Bill 2 was the vehicle passed by the Senate 26-10 and the House 69-24. Vetoed by Governor & Overridden by Senate 23-5 & House 69-22 - September 9
APPROPRIATIONS: Senate Bill 3/House Bill 3 appropriates $69 million in ARPA funding to relieve pressures in healthcare, long term care, and education systems. They also provide more funding for COVID testing, monoclonal antibody treatment, and "test and stay" COVID testing for schools. One of the least controversial measures during this special session, the Senate bill passed without amendments in the Senate 36-0 and the House 84-8. Signed by Governor - September 9
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES (Senate Bill 5/House Bill 5): These bills appropriate $410 million from the budget reserve trust fund to finance KEDFA forgivable loans and training grants for companies investing more than $2 billion in Kentucky. The language allows the state to provide incentives on the front end, to compete with states that are able to provide cash incentives. According to legislators there have been discussions involving specific companies for this incentive, but any company investing over $2 billion would qualify. Senate Bill 5 passed without amendment in the Senate 30-3 and the House 91-2. Signed by Governor - September 9
EMERGENCY ORDERS: House Joint Resolution 1, likely the most important piece of legislation to come from the special session, passed the General Assembly and was sent to the governor for his signature on Tuesday, the first day of the special session. 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. Signed by Governor - Tuesday, September 7
Also considered today, but not receiving final passage was Senate Joint Resolution 3 sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, which recognized a positive COVID-19 antibody test as equivalent to having been vaccinated against COVID-19. The resolution was filed on Tuesday and passed from committee and the full Senate by a vote of 26-10, but was never acted upon in the House.
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