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Kentucky lawmakers address masking, revamping jobless benefits and replacing the board at KSU

Karyn Czar

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky have given final passage to a bill revamping rules for unemployment benefits. It sets up another policy conflict with the Democratic governor. The measure cleared the
legislature on a 58-36 House vote Tuesday. It goes to Gov. Andy Beshear. He said recently the proposal would hurt people needing benefits after
losing their jobs. The bill would increase work-search requirements for people receiving jobless benefits. It would tie the length of time recipients receive benefits to the unemployment rate. That could cut the number of benefit weeks by more than half in times of low jobless rates.

Kentucky State University’s Board of Regents would have to be replaced by April 1 under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear would be able to appoint eight new board members, who would be confirmed by the Senate. Three spots would go to members elected by the students, faculty and staff. Kentucky’s sole public historically Black university has been under state oversight since last summer, when worries over the school’s financial well-being
and lawsuits alleging misconduct by campus officials came to a head.

The Kentucky House has voted to give parents the power to opt out of school masking requirements for their children. The vote came Tuesday, just months after lawmakers handed school districts control over the contentious masking issue in the age of COVID-19. Under the bill, parents could choose “for any reason” to have their children go maskless at public schools. The bill also would prohibit masking requirements at Kentucky’s public colleges. And child care centers could choose not to
require masking. The House passed the measure 56-35, sending the proposal to the Senate. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.