(The Center Square) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear received a legal victory Wednesday after a state judge ruled in his favor and granted a temporary injunction against three laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that seek to limit his authority during emergencies.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued orders against House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2. In particular, the order – for now – strikes down the 30-day limitation on the governor’s emergency orders and administrative regulations, which were the focus of the two Senate bills.
The judge’s order prohibits Section 1 of HB 1, which includes language would allow businesses and other entities to “remain open and fully operational” despite the governor’s order if they can meet or exceed guidelines established by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the executive branch, depending on which is less restrictive.
Shepherd in his ruling said the case pits the legislature’s right to oversee a governor’s authority in time of crisis with the challenge the Beshear administration’s ability to respond to the pandemic. He said both parties are working “in good faith” to address import public issues.
However, Beshear “has made a strong case that the legislation in its current form, is likely to undermine, or even cripple, the effectiveness of public health measures necessary to protect the lives and health of Kentuckians from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The legislature still keeps its authority, the judge noted, to oversee Beshear’s authority in other ways. That includes passing a budget, holding hearings and passing other legislation to curb the governor’s power.
In a statement to reporters, Beshear said his office has had “productive conversations” with lawmakers on numerous issues.
“We will attempt to work with them on this and other topics now and in the future," he said.