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KY Supreme Court Unanimous Decision: Laws Limiting Governor's Emergency Power Stand

Karyn Czar, WUKY

Kentucky Supreme Court released a unanimous decision Saturday saying new laws enacted by the Kentucky legislature limiting Governor Andy Beshear’s emergency powers are valid and can stand for now.  The decision states that the Franklin Circuit Court abused its discretion in issuing the temporary injunction. It sends the case back to the Franklin Circuit Court with instructions to dissolve the injunction and orders the new laws to go into effect.

Justice Laurence VanMeter wrote in his opinion: "We find that this matter presents a justiciable case or controversy but that the Franklin Circuit Court abused its discretion in issuing the temporary injunction. Accordingly, we remand this case to the trial court with instructions to dissolve the injunction." This sends Governor Beshear's challenge back to Franklin Circuit Court and orders the new laws to go into effect.

One controversial mandate issued by the Governor has swirled around masking. Earlier this month Beshear again made masking inside K-12 schools and childcare facilities mandatory. On Thursday, a temporary restraining order was issued by U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman which blocks enforcement of that emergency order. Bertelsman’s order only applies to private schools in the state because the Kentucky Board of Education put their own mandate in place separate from Beshear’s,  so currently, masks will still be required in public schools. Also, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ emergency regulation related to child care settings remains in effect.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tweeted:


The Governor's Communication Director Crystal Staley released the following statement:

"The court’s order will dissolve Kentucky’s entire state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. It either eliminates or puts at risk large amounts of funding, steps we have taken to increase our health care capacity, expanded meals for children and families, measures to fight COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, worker’s compensation for front-line workers who contract COVID-19 as well as the ability to fight price gouging. It will further prevent the governor from taking additional steps such as a general mask mandate. The administration will work to determine whether the General Assembly would extend the state of emergency as we assess whether to call a special session. The Governor has had the courage to make unpopular decisions in order to keep Kentuckians safe – the court has removed much of his ability to do so moving forward. If called into a special session, we hope the General Assembly would do the right thing

The Constitutionality of the laws enacted by the legislature is still under question. The KY Supreme Court didn't rule if those new laws limiting the Governor's powers are constitutional or not.

To read the complete ruling click here http://opinions.kycourts.net/sc/2021-SC-0107-I.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2N9uvRTttl-Q2os_s28uSZMmfpIeerkRwbSlMIuFGtiTibWwxnesxIvYo