FRANKFORT, Ky. — As new coronavirus restrictions take place, House Republicans say Gov. Andy Beshear has ignored thousands of people who will be hurt by them.
“They don’t care who the governor is. They don’t care who any single one of us are. They don’t care who holds the majority in the House,” House Speaker David Osborne said. “They care about how they’re going to put food on the table and they care about how their utility bills are going to get paid.”
Caucus members met Friday to discuss their priorities in the next legislative session, one of which will be curtailing the governor’s emergency powers.
Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade said the governor hasn’t been making rational decisions, including the latest restrictions announced this week, and needs to seek input from more groups.
“We believe that the great people of Kentucky are intelligent enough and caring enough to take care of themselves, their families, their friends, and their neighbors, given the appropriate information,” Meade said.
Beshear says the virus is so widespread that data Republicans are asking for isn’t relevant.
He also criticized Republicans and other critics for not offering any solutions of their own.
“Nobody else has given a plan of action. They just criticize the action that we’re taking,” Beshear said. “Our two choices are action, which is difficult, or inaction, which is deadly. And most of those who are being critical would choose surrender and this thing would take so many more lives.”
Lawmakers only meet for 30 scheduled days in the upcoming session so they’ll have a lot to do in a shorter time frame.
Osborne wouldn’t commit to when a bill about emergency powers will move through.
“Our goal as it has always been is to pass good, long-term policy that will stand the test of time. We will pass that when it’s ready,” Osborne said. “If that is the first week, then it’ll be the first week. If it’s not ready the first week, then it won’t be in the first week.”
Lawmakers also have to work on a budget after opting to pass a one-year spending plan in April instead of the usual two-year deal due to uncertainty over revenue because of the coronavirus. Osborne says he believes the revenue picture next year will look pretty grim.
He says budget talks have already started with the governor’s office.
“We have begun discussions with the budget director,” Osborne said. “I hope that that is a signal that the administration is ready to go to work to tackle these difficult decisions in a professional manner.”
The legislative session starts on Jan. 5 and runs through March 30.