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It's 'veto today, gone tomorrow' as the Kentucky General Assembly acts quickly to bypass Beshear

Timothy D. Easley/AP
FR43398 AP
FILE - The exterior photo of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., is shown on April 7, 2021. Kentucky lawmakers took aim Wednesday, March 2,3 2022, at reversing the state's chronically high rates for child abuse and neglect, passing a sweeping measure to bolster prevention and oversight efforts. The bill won 94-0 final passage in the House, sending the measure to Gov. Andy Beshear. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Kentucky lawmakers got straight to work Wednesday overturning Gov. Andy Beshear's long list of vetoed bills, while leaving the door open for action on sports betting and new local taxing options.

In what's expected to be one of the lengthiest days of the session, lawmakers swiftly pounced on Beshear's vetoes — moving to resurrect bills dealing with the teaching of history in classrooms, charter school funding, and line-items crossed out in the budget.

Among the first to be tackled in the Senate was a measure barring transgender girls and women from grade six through college from participating on sports teams aligning with their gender identity.

Republican Sen. Adrienne Southworth said the bill — vetoed in its entirety by the governor — is about an attempt to maintain fairness.

"The whole point of this is that we're supposed to be trying to balance, as much as possible, everybody's rights," she said.

Sen. Karen Berg countered that current Kentucky High School Athletics Association policy already has safeguards, including a requirement that students who have undergone sex reassignment after puberty must take hormonal therapy to compete.

"You are usurping well thought out guidelines that have clinical input in them with your own extraordinarily politically motivated bill."
Sen. Karen Berg

Bills limiting transgender students' participation in sports have been vetoed by Republican governors in Utah and Indiana, but similar laws are on the books in more than a dozen other states.

Down the hall, the afternoon's one cliffhanger, a narrowly-approved charter school funding bill, cleared its steepest hurdle in the General Assembly with a divided Kentucky House voting to revive the legislation.

House Bill 9 sets up a funding mechanism for charter schools and ushers in at least two five-year pilot project charters in Jefferson County and Northern Kentucky.

It initially passed the House by a razor thin margin with 51 of the chamber's 100 members in favor. Wednesday, the chamber held on to those 51 votes and added another in the vote to override, all but assuring the measure will hit the books.

The override took place over the protests of charter opponents, who argued the bill is an experiment parents in their districts aren't asking for. Proponents have long held that students and parents deserve more choice when it comes to schooling.

Charters became a political flashpoint in 2017, when they were legalized by the General Assembly. But the schools never materialized due to a lack of permanent funding.

Beshear argued in his veto message that he believes the proposed funding mechanism is unconstitutional.

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.