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Kentucky GOP Hopes Governor Is Paying Attention To Party Gains

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

As Republicans pick up more seats in the Kentucky legislature, party leaders are hoping the wins translate to more engagement from Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear — even as they consider reining his emergency powers.

The GOP tightened its grip on power in both the Kentucky House and Senate this week, creating more potential for confrontation with the governor over his executive authority.

Senate President Robert Stivers told KET both chambers plan on moving ahead with the 2021 General Assembly despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We're going to take all the necessary and precautionary steps that we should, but we have a constitutional obligation to come in and act, pass a budget, pass legislation, look at these powers that we think have gone to an extreme," the Manchester Republican said.

The comments came just ahead of news that Beshear is reupping the state's mask mandate for another month as the commonwealth faces growing concerns about surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Republicans in Frankfort have been critical of aspects of Beshear's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, from the scope of pandemic mandates to his administration's oversight of unemployment benefits. So far this fall, the governor has not reinstituted lockdowns like those utilized at the outset of the pandemic. However, limiting his ability to institute statewide precautions, he warned Wednesday, could be "disastrous."

"You can't manage an emergency, and this is a long emergency but it's still an emergency, with 130-something people. It's tough," Beshear told reporters. "It's one of the reasons you have a chief executive."

But House Speaker David Osborne, also speaking with KET, said he hopes the favorable GOP results on election night set the stage for more cooperation between the governor and the legislature.

"I hope that the governor will see this as an opportunity to engage with the legislature. We've been asking for months for him to do so, and he's not seen fit to do that at this point in time," Osborne said.

Next year's shorter 30-day session is scheduled to start January 5th.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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