Kentucky lawmakers poised to override Dem governor’s vetoes

Published 6:36 am Sunday, March 28, 2021

Kentucky lawmakers will reconvene Monday to consider a stack of unfinished business, with Republicans poised to take up the Democratic governor’s vetoes on everything from scholarship tax credits to his ability to fill a U.S. Senate seat if a vacancy occurs.

Efforts to curb no-knock police warrants, prompted by the March 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor by police in a raid on her Louisville home, and to relax early voting rules also remain unresolved, though there appears to be bipartisan agreement on election reform. Those bills have not yet emerged from the legislature, along with a legislative push to shield businesses from pandemic-related lawsuits.

Much of the action will reflect the state’s political divide between Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and the Republican-controlled legislature, which set the table for a contentious 2021 session.

The agenda for the session’s final two days grew after a flurry of Beshear vetoes. Republicans hold supermajorities in both legislative chambers, and GOP leaders are eager to put their imprint on education policy and to water down the governor’s executive authority.

“We’re going to get right to overriding vetoes,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said.

A showdown is likely to come on Beshear’s rejection of a bill to allow a form of scholarship tax credits to gain a foothold in parts of Kentucky to pay for private school tuition. The bill barely passed the House and sparked a chorus of criticism from public education advocates.

Two of the session’s highest-profile bills are still unsettled — proposals to curb no-knock police warrants and criminalize insulting a police officer when it provokes a violent response.

Lawmakers also are talking about how to spend Kentucky’s share of the $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package championed by President Joe Biden. State government in Kentucky is expected to eventually receive about $2.4 billion as its share of the new pandemic aid.