Judge blocks laws in showdown between Gov. Beshear, GOP lawmakers

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Kentucky’s Democratic governor won a court order Wednesday temporarily blocking new Republican-backed laws that threatened to invalidate a series of his executive orders aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration made a “strong case” that the laws are likely to “undermine, or even cripple,” public health measures needed to protect Kentuckians from the pandemic, Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said in his ruling.

The judge issued orders blocking the three laws pending further proceedings in the high-stakes case.

Beshear, who filed a lawsuit challenging the laws soon after his vetoes of them were overridden, said he appreciated the order and signaled that he’s had discussions with lawmakers.
“The ability to act and react quickly is necessary in our war against this ever-changing and mutating virus,” the governor said in a statement. “Recently, we have been having productive conversations on a wide range of topics with legislative leaders. We will attempt to work with them on this and other topics now and in the future.”

One of the blocked laws would allow Kentucky businesses and schools to comply either with COVID-19 guidelines from Beshear’s administration or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — whichever standard is least restrictive.

Another law being challenged would limit the governor’s executive orders in times of emergency to 30 days unless extended by lawmakers. It applies to orders restricting schools, businesses and religious gatherings or imposing mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements.