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Kentucky Legislature Paves Way For More Virus Mandate Challenges

Josh James

The Kentucky General Assembly may not be in session, but lawmakers are laying the groundwork for further challenges to COVID-related mandates.

This week, Republican Rep. Lynn Belcher pre-filed bills that would block employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and stop public schools and universities from instituting facial covering rules in the classroom, at school events, and on buses.

Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear responded by pointing to Arkansas, where the Republican governor has expressed regret over passing a statewide ban on mask mandates.

"Oh my goodness, look what's happening in Arkansas right now. I mean, a bill that prevents entities from instituting a mask mandate when there is such a surge in a deadly variant out there," the Democrat said. "That kills people."

Kentucky Republicans have raised a number of objections to masking rules, ranging from legal disputes over the governor’s ability to currently issue an order, to complaints about vague language in the mandates.

"It says nothing about due process. It says nothing about penalties. There are no penalty provisions. These providers have no way of knowing what will happen to them if they do not comply," Sen. Stephen West said during a legislative committee meeting this week. 

Tuesday, a GOP-led committee found the governor’s school mask mandate deficient – an action that doesn’t remove the mandate but signals the legislature’s disapproval.

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.