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'I'm Asking You Now...' Republicans Maintain Legislature Can Help Stop Nursing Exodus

KET Legislative Archives

Despite urgent pleas for a second special legislative session to relieve nursing shortages in the state by some Kentucky Republicans, Gov. Andy Beshear says none of the groundwork for an agreement has been laid. 

GOP Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a physician, made an appeal to the governor through the cameras during a committee meeting Wednesday, arguing that lawmakers are prepared to find the funding necessary to help recruit and retain staff at overtaxed hospitals.

"This group stands ready to act on this issue," the senator said. "If you want to hear it directly through cameras because I know that's how we like to communicate, I'm asking you now to call us into special session to handle this issue before we start losing all of our staff because this isn't the last surge for COVID-19."

With the governor and lawmakers at odds over whether extra federal dollars even exist to help fund the recruitment and retention efforts, Alvarado said the legislature could redesignate monies from other projects if necessary.

But Beshear said proponents of another short session haven’t brought his office and lawmakers from both chambers together, exchanged draft bills, or indicated if there is any general agreement on a program.

"None of the work has been done by those that are mentioning this that would be required for a special session," the Democrat said Thursday. 

The governor said he instead believes the pressure for a session has more to do with lawmakers’ decision not to allow statewide orders, such as a mask mandate, that could lessen the strain on hospitals.