'Time To Act.' Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Calls Legislature Into Special Session

Sep 4, 2021

Gov. Andy Beshear has called a special legislative session starting on Tuesday, asking the GOP-led General Assembly to consider the future of the state's COVID-19 response.

Credit AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

With a state Supreme Court ruling effectively handing the reins on major statewide pandemic policy to the legislature, lawmakers will now get what they've been asking for: a chance to weigh in on and debate the state's reaction to the ongoing crisis.

Saturday, Gov. Beshear made it official.

"At this point, with the deadline approaching where our declared state of emergency would end and many of our tools that are so necessary to fight this pandemic would evaporate, now is the time to act," the Democrat said.

In the session, which is limited to specific action items outlined by the governor, the legislature will be asked to consider a number of issues, most directly related to COVID-19.

They include whether to extend Kentucky's state of emergency to January 15, when the legislature would return to regular session; reviewing a series of executive, agency, and cabinet orders; considering gubernatorial ability to mandate masking in some circumstances; appropriating remaining American Rescue Fund dollars; and providing more flexibility for struggling schools.

On that last item, the governor said more targeted use of NTI, or non-traditional instruction, days will be on the list. Right now, at-home or virtual days can only be used district-wide.

"Moving that down to the school or the classroom-level I know is something that's going to be considered," Beshear said.

Special sessions are typically short, lasting around five days. Lawmakers have been holding committee meetings ahead of the anticipated session in the hopes of reaching consensus more quickly. Special sessions cost taxpayers around $68,000 a day.