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GOP lawmakers continue to chip away at Gov. Beshear's authority

Ryan C. Hermens/AP
Pool Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference after the Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases challenging the governor's ability to issue emergency declarations, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Frankfort, Ky. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, Pool)

Two bills further paring back Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers are on the move in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The first measure prohibits the use of public funds to challenge the constitutionality of legislative acts and resolutions by the General Assembly. It includes exceptions for the attorney general and the Dept. of Public Advocacy in some cases.

The move comes in the wake of a number of lawsuits launched by the Beshear administration questioning the constitutionality of bills OKed by the GOP-dominated legislature.

A second bill alters the size and makeup of the current Executive Branch Ethics Commission, watering down the governor’s influence over its composition.

As it stands, the commission is made up of five members, all appointed by the governor. The bill would expand the commission to seven members, only two of which would be appointed by the governor. The remainder would be chosen — one each — by the attorney general, auditor, agriculture commissioner, secretary of state, and treasurer.

Sen. Damon Thayer praised the change as overdue.

"I don't know why it took so long for us to get around to giving other constitutional officers, who are part of the executive branch, an appointment," the GOP leader said.

By spreading those appointments around, the bill effectively gives Republicans — who hold all five constitutional offices — more control over the membership of the commission, which oversees ethical conduct of officials and employees in the executive branch.

A Senate committee speedily approved the two bills without debate Monday.

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.