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Gov. Beshear calls Kentucky lawmakers into special session to discuss COVID-19 measures

Gov. Beshear calls Kentucky lawmakers into special session to discuss COVID-19 measures



Good afternoon. The commonwealth is in a state of emergency. The delta variant is spreading at a rate never seen before, impacting businesses shuttering schools and worse causing severe illness and death. Nearly every day we set records in the number of Kentucky and hospitalized in the I. C. U. Or needing a ventilator just to breathe. In previous surges. The governor me was empowered to act to do what is necessary to stop the spike to flatten the curve to save lives. The recent state Supreme Court decision has changed that. Now. That burden will fall in large part on the General Assembly. They’ll have to carry much of that weight to confront unpopular choices and to make decisions that balance many things including the lives and the possible deaths of our citizens. Beginning the day after that decision, my administration and me personally began calls, meeting with, began calls with and meetings with legislative leadership. We mutually agreed to take a little bit of time with the status quo intact for them to determine next steps. I think that was a good 1st decision. It showed thoughtfulness over simply reaction. We’ve met multiple times. We have had multiple calls, We’ve exchanged information and even potential draft legislation at this point and with the deadline approaching, where are 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. So today I’ll be signing the official call for the General Assembly to meet in special session Beginning 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning. As with every special session, it is limited to the call itself under the call. The General Assembly will be asked to extend the state of emergency To January 15. That’s when they would be back again and be able to have time to act. It’ll ask them to review executive orders and agency and cabinet orders. It will ask them to determine my ability to require masking in certain situations depending on where the the pandemic goes and how bad any area is. It will ask them to appropriate uh funding to further the fight. Um funding that is left over from the american rescue plan act dollars that were not needed for certain things they were appropriated for. They’ll be asked to provide our schools with flexibility. So this session will be about covid about the General Assembly under the Supreme Court’s decision making determinations on this fight moving forward and it is a heavy load to carry. There are a few other things since we will have the Legislature in town that are also on the call, Number one is to extend the state of emergency in Nicholas County for the flooding and Carlisle for 30 to 45 days. That is just in case we need to do some extra steps as that flooding has been particularly bad and things like temporary housing have been requested for longer. It also asks the General Assembly to provide the cabinet for economic development with additional flexibility for projects over $2 billion dollars of investment. We have never actualized operationalized a project of that size? I think there’s only been one that had a package approved and it never happened. But as we sit here today, we have at least five potential projects that would be that size. In other words, the largest in our commonwealth history. But other states have tools in their toolbox to make offers for those projects that we don’t have. And so this asked the General Assembly to help us be competitive but to keep the same spirit we have in our current incentive package. It also would give us flexibility on the Glendale site, which is Kentucky’s mega site to move fast if needed, simply because it is in demand. So at this moment I will be signing the proclamation that will officially call the legislature in a special session Beginning 10 a.m. which is I believe when the house will convene on this coming Tuesday. All right. We will be sending out the call itself, which I think is fairly routine but certainly points out how bad covid has has gotten and also going through the different things to be considered in the special session. All right with that we’ll turn it over to a number of reporters that we have on the line. We’ll start with morgan Watkins from the Courier Journal. Thanks Governor. You said one of the goals of the legislative session will be to determine your ability to require masking in certain situations. Do you have any sense from your talks with legislative legislative leaders to what degree, if any, they’ll be willing to give you that kind of power. And if it will be looking more at regionally, you know, being able to put it in place in specific regions of the state as opposed to the statewide ban. Well, we’ve got we’ve had generally very good talks with the General Assembly. People have been open and been willing to have conversations. I know this is one that will be a contentious issue within uh the caucus or within the General Assembly itself. I have uh stated very clearly uh that I believe that this authority is absolutely necessary as we would not have been able to stop the previous surgeons without using it. We would not have been able to flatten the curve without the ability to require masking. Remember that that kept our emergency rooms and hospitals from overflowing and being overrun before we’re already to that stage now. So I think that it’s necessary if they won’t consider providing that authority in general. My hope is that they will consider a threshold to where they will provide me that authority. In other words, if the local government can keep the levels low in the green or even in the yellow, then maybe they would uh make that determination. But when it gets to orange or especially red. You know, sometimes it’s easier to make the call here than what some other people might face, but it’s still the right call, but uh, no, I don’t know exactly um what the final outcome there will be, but I certainly hope, given that we know it is an effective tool that is hard to implement um without the governor that they will give it uh significant consideration tom late check from Kentucky today. I know you’re on here tom we can have a press conference there. You are. I was having called Ian muting, sorry about that. Um, I’ve got two quick ones, first of all, if you could explain what the Glendale site is, I’m not sure of that. And then, secondly, uh there’s been a lot of discussion over the last week or so about uh, N T. I, the flexibility to do it on, not just a district level, but as, as, you know, a little tighter, say, like a school level or even a classroom level, is that something that’s going to be part of your caller, part of your proposal? Sure. So the Glendale site is mega site off I 65. Uh It’s it’s one that is very attractive just across the country and and that’s one uh that that we have to get some things done if we have opportunity uh to be able to, to, to move fast. Um, N t I I think there are a number of things on the table, number one is absolutely right, uh, flexibility and using your NT I days, not on the district level because that’s the only thing you can do right now. You got to have the entire district out to use NT I moving that down to the school or the classroom level. I know it’s something that’s going to be considered and that people have an open mind of, I think there’s additional consideration for whether it’s additional NT I days or maybe something a little more limited and or structure depending on how you look at it, like remote instruction or virtual instruction, just making sure the kids are getting a full day uh in, I think there’s also consideration and you’ll see it in the call about flexibility in allowing uh retired teachers to come back, especially during this crisis. Uh and help us to make sure we don’t have any classroom that doesn’t have an instructor, jeremy tombs from K Y T. Thank you governor. In terms of uh, you know, you would, I mentioned that your ability to require masking in certain situations with the way the delta variant has been of late. What situations are you particularly looking at? Well, this is, it will be up to the, to the general assembly. I mean, that’s what the Supreme Court has, has said right now. We, we need it everywhere. Um, we have more cases per week that we’ve ever seen. We have a higher positivity rate than we’ve ever seen. We have more people in the hospital than we’ve ever seen. We have more people in the ICU than we’ve ever seen. We have more people in the ICU than we’ve ever seen in my worry is that we will have more deaths than a short period of time than we’ve ever seen now. Two things can get us out of that once a long term solution vaccines and once a short term solution to uh flattening the curve a little and giving us extra health care capacity and that is uh masking uh I don’t know exactly what the General assembly will be open uh To my hope is if that they are not going to be okay with just the governor having the general authority over it. And admittedly they probably won’t that they will at least think um about when the situation gets so serious that the state, whether it’s me, whether it’s the Department of Public Health, you pick has the authority to to to do that. I certainly think a Red County is one where if if uh local government will not require indoor. Uh I’m asking when you’re when you’re out of your house, it’s something that the state should be allowed to do. Uh certainly at least during the delta variant. But but again, that’s that’s their call. We’ve had constructive conversations. Um They’ll debate that in their own caucus. That’s just my opinion on um what I think is is necessary bria jones W. F. P. L. You got it this time. Great time. Um Um with the extending of the state of emergency possibly, what will that help keep intact in terms of like COVID policies as well as what would that allow to happen more of throughout the through January 15. So we think a whole lot about uh masking, but there’s a whole lot of what I would call belt and suspenders or foundational steps that we have taken over time. It’s everything from workers compensation for our front line workers if they come down with covid or quarantine that that they wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s recognizing doctors and nurses from other states, they couldn’t practice in Kentucky. And during this pandemic uh they can uh it’s especially for seniors allowing prescription refills at the pharmacy levels so they don’t have to go out. There’s lots of boards where professionals or other folks have to come in in person and and re up or do things. Uh Those are all extended. There are a lot of different things like that that we have put into place over time. Uh It’s also potentially potentially necessary for for federal funding. The President called a State of Emergency in all 50 states which gives us some security and fema funding, but normally you would have to have a state State of emergency under the Stafford act and and others to to be able to get full reimbursement there. Uh So it’s it’s important. Um and and for future programs we think it will be important as well. Uh molly layer. Uh W l wt Cincinnati? No. Um My question is about quarantine rules. There are a lot of districts that are struggling with hundreds of students who are home. They’re seeing a lot of staff who are quarantined as well. So will that be part of the discussion this week perhaps adjusting those quarantine rules? I think that there could be some discussion on adjusting quarantine rules. I think when you adjust them, other things have to be in place and those are all discussions that have to be made. It’s certainly um a lot easier to adjust those if you have universal masking. If you don’t. It’s it’s very difficult. It also depends on the level of testing that’s out there and and obviously quarantining and the amount of quarantining necessary depends on vaccination rates. I do expect for it to be a topic. I don’t know if it would be specific legislation that comes out or or the encouragement or or the requirement of certain programs that we could develop out to lessen quarantine in certain situations. Let’s see uh Brianne martin from WDRB. Thank you. Governor with Kentucky’s covid search, have any of these measures already been agreed upon with the General assembly or is this something you’re asking for? I think that that we have seen um Certainly on if I can the belt and suspenders pieces. Uh a lot of agreement but the way that the legislation that they passed that was upheld by the Supreme Court makes us come back um for basically everything that we have done uh and and them to uh pass an act that approves uh many of those things moving forward. Uh So so I expect that that there is um a lot of agreement on a lot of things now I think there’s some very important things like masking that there may be disagreement on and and will probably be a big part of the of the discussions. But we have we I mean, we’ve had good talks um and we’ve even exchanged drafts of of different things. So there’s been a lot of exchange of information. And while I wouldn’t say that there’s been an agreement on specific legislation um there’s been an agreement on what we need to do. There’s been an agreement on the topics for the special sessions and as opposed to some other special sessions. This is a half too right. The law requires that if we want the state of emergency to continue. Uh We have to do it. Kailyn Massey from W. L. K. Y My question was previously answered. The question I had was previously answered. Thank you. Thank you. Caitlyn Kelsey Soto from Ws AZ you have a long list of topics and in situations and issues you’d like them to tackle in this special session. How likely is it? I mean, knowing that the mask masking is going to be a big chunk of that. How likely is it? They’ll be able to get through everything and handle all the funding and all the different issues by let’s say saturday. I think that they will have uh certainly the opportunity to get through it in five days right now. I don’t see any uh concern there. That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna get everything I want out of it. I’m pretty positive uh That I won’t. Um But I I think they will come to consensus early on about what they’re willing to do. Uh And knowing that a special special session is extraordinary. Um Knowing um what the dollars are. I I don’t I don’t anticipate we’ll go more than five days and if we have to go a day or two beyond that uh I imagine it will be necessary. So I don’t I don’t have any concerns there. I do think everybody is working in good faith. I I do see them putting in the hours again, that doesn’t mean we we agree but I think it means everybody’s working hard and wants to get in uh and get out. But at the same time have real discussion. Sophia Miller from Lex 18. All right tom Kenny from W. T. V. Q. Over to yeah. Uh Jack Bremer from the courier journal. I’m sorry from the herald leader man Jack. I can’t believe I just did that to you. Did we lose everybody? Let’s give it a minute. Mhm And you call a reporter from the wrong newspaper. And what happens to you in the next article? We’ll see. Okay, you want me to try one more our cross if you’re on Thank you Governor. Uh Two questions, one procedural ones. Uh What exactly does the State of Emergency end? We presume that’s when the Supreme Court order becomes final. But judge shepherds also supposed to uh issue something We’ve heard the 10th. We’ve heard the 13th. We’re not really sure. That’s the procedural question. The substantive question is even under the law that they passed, you still have the authority To issue an emergency order for 30 days if the legislature does not give you what you want, and you think the state needs, would you still reserve the right to issue an emergency order that might go contrary to their wishes and There for 30 days? Uh Well, I think that the legislation prevents me from issuing a new state of emergency on the same topic. And I think it specifically mentions COVID-19 and any of its variance, if I have more flexibility there. Um I’m not aware of it in this situation. I think in a new emergency, uh we could, but if if if I believe there is flexibility there, i it’s something I would have to uh consider at the moment, at least on on this pandemic. Um I don’t believe there is that that flexibility? Um But I’ve been wrong in the past. Um But but at least that’s how I I read the statute at the moment. Um We also believe that this state of emergency in september 10th at midnight, but we also believe that we’re at a place where it’s time to move and and there’s a lot of uncertainty out there as the delta variant continues to burn through Kentucky um as hot and as quickly as as it has. I think we also have spectrum on the line. Hi, good afternoon Governor Beshear. Uh I wanted to know focusing on schools, you know, one school district in eastern Kentucky is having to pick up contact tracing in addition to the juggling of quarantines and stuff. Uh Will there be any conversations about helping out school districts at this time during the special session? I think there’s going to be conversation about stabilizing funding. I think there’s going to be conversations about uh testing. Uh We’d we’d really have to sit down and talk with school districts on the contact tracing side because they know they’re set up so well. Um and they’re and they’re so directly responsible for um the safety of of their students. I get that it is taking every administrator all day long doing this right now. I’ve talked to them, I know them and we can talk to them about what those additional needs are. I do think though that a lot of that is alleviated if you can say instead of um us having to go on N. T. I. For the entire school district or even just the school that we know we have four positive cases in this third grade class. If we get flexibility that third grade class could go in T. I. Or could go remote learning and and the rest of the school would not. Um So I think that there are a number of different tools that are going to be considered that will cut down significantly on that amount of work. I will admit it’s it’s hard to move that from someone who is so knowledgeable like those school administrators and so directly tied into where those kids are at all times. Mhm. Good to Sophie ability. All right, we’re gonna try Sofia Miller from Lex 18 again. Sophia, I’m sorry. We can’t hear you if you want to send us the question. Um We will um I think Jeremy has raised his hand from W. K. Y. T. For a follow up and we’ll take a couple more of those if others would like to thank you governor. Uh Just wanted to ask about the current situation in Nicholas County that’s that’s prompted you to extend the state of emergency. Where is Nicholas County at Right now. And where is fema at in terms of providing federal assistance. So we don’t have a final fema decision on individual assistance we wished. Uh We did. Um And and Nicholas counties disaster, which is awful, is is a little different from many because we rarely see this level of devastation on what is almost a main street, you know, a a core street inside of of a city that has, that has caused so much damage here. I don’t know that we will necessarily need the extra days, but given how hard they’ve been hit given people’s desire for additional temporary housing if we can’t given the insurance company’s stance um, towards these individuals, which I, I do not agree with. We just want to have some additional flexibility. That’s there. All right. Um I think that’s it. Um we will begin this special session 10 am on Tuesday. I want to thank legislative leaders including uh Speaker Osborne President Stiver, certainly all the leadership teams and and everybody that helps them out on working towards this. I hope we can have a constructive um if we can a low drama um experience next week where we try to do the work and get as close to agreement as we can. But I will admit and they know this, these are heavy decisions in a tough time when so much is on the line. So we will see you um, Tuesday morning. I hope everybody has a good but a safe Labour Day weekend. Remember it’s dangerous out there. This variant spreading if you are unveiled. If you are unvaccinated, you’ll get it and unfortunately you’re likely to get very sick. If you’re vaccinated, you still marry very well, may get it. So please be careful wear a mask when you’re indoors, but outside of your home and if you haven’t, please please please get vaccinated. Thank you all very much.

Gov. Beshear calls Kentucky lawmakers into special session to discuss COVID-19 measures

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Saturday that he’s calling the Republican-led legislature into a special session to shape pandemic policies as Kentucky struggles with a record surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.”Nearly everyday we set records in the number of Kentuckians hospitalized in the ICU or needing an ventilator just to breathe,” said Beshear.The governor signed the official call for the return of lawmakers to the state Capitol during his press conference, calling them to meet Tuesday starting at 10 a.m. This will mark a dramatic power shift in coronavirus-related policymaking following a recent court ruling.Key GOP lawmakers have signaled their preference for policies favoring local decision-making over statewide mandates in response to the virus escalation fueled by the fast-spreading delta variant.Beshear wielded sole authority to call lawmakers into a special session and to set the agenda. But GOP supermajorities in both chambers will decide what measures ultimately pass. “In previous surges, the governor, me, was empowered to act, to do what is necessary to stop the spike, flatten the curve, to save lives, but the recent state Supreme Court decision has changed that,” said Beshear. “Now, that burden will fall in large part on the general assembly. They have to carry much of that weight to confront unpopular choices and to make decisions that balance many things, including the lives and possible deaths of our citizens.”Various emergency measures issued by Beshear are set to expire as a result of the landmark court decision. Lawmakers will decide whether to extend, alter or discontinue each emergency order, and they are expected to put their own stamp on the state’s response to COVID-19.The state Supreme Court recently shifted those virus-related decisions to the legislature. The court cleared the way for new laws to limit the governor’s emergency powers, which he used to impose virus restrictions. The justices said a lower court wrongly blocked the GOP-backed measures.Gov. Beshear said that as soon as the court decision was handed down, he began having conversations with Congressional leadership about measures the legislative body can take. He said information was exchanged and potential legislation was even drafted. With measures set in place slated to evaporate on Sept. 10 when the declared state of emergency is scheduled to end, Beshear said that the general assembly will be asked to extend the state of emergency to Jan. 15, review the governor’s emergency powers.”It will ask them review executive orders and agency and cabinet orders,” said Beshear. “It will determine my ability to require masking in certain situations depending where the pandemic goes and how bad any area is.”The general assembly will also be asked to appropriate funding to further the fight against the virus and provide schools with flexibility. Also, funds will need to be looked at to provide for worker’s compensation for frontline workers if they come down with COVID-19, recognizing pulling in doctors and nurses that couldn’t practice in Kentucky, senior citizens being allowed refills extensions, “belt and suspenders foundational things” as Beshear referred to them. Beshear did allow that even though the state is already overrun with COVID-19, if the general assembly will not provide the authority in general for him to act as he sees fit, then perhaps a threshold could be set where if rates can be kept in the green or yellow categories then mandates would go out of effect. Then, if rates surged into the orange or red categories again the mandates would go back into effect. He also spoke about how the general assembly will need to address education. “NTI, I think there are number of things on the table, flexibility in using NTI days not on just the district level, because you have got to have the entire district out to use NTI, moving that down to the school or classroom level is something that is going to be considered,” Beshear said. “I think there’s additional consideration to be made, whether it’s additional NTI days, or maybe something a little more limited and structured such as remote instruction and virtual instruction.”Throughout the pandemic, Republican lawmakers watched from the sidelines as Beshear waged an aggressive response that included statewide mask mandates and strict limits on gatherings. Republicans criticized the governor for what they viewed as overly broad and stringent restrictions on Kentuckians. The governor lifted most of his virus-related restrictions in June.Beshear said it will be up to the general assembly to decide if measures are to be statewide or targeted to areas of high impact. Gov. Beshear is optimistic about the special session as he says that he believes everyone is working hard to get in, get out and have a good discussion. “I hope we can have a constructive, if we can, low-drama experience next week where we try to do the work and get as close to agreement as we can,” said Beshear as he concluded.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Saturday that he’s calling the Republican-led legislature into a special session to shape pandemic policies as Kentucky struggles with a record surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“Nearly everyday we set records in the number of Kentuckians hospitalized in the ICU or needing an ventilator just to breathe,” said Beshear.

The governor signed the official call for the return of lawmakers to the state Capitol during his press conference, calling them to meet Tuesday starting at 10 a.m. This will mark a dramatic power shift in coronavirus-related policymaking following a recent court ruling.

Key GOP lawmakers have signaled their preference for policies favoring local decision-making over statewide mandates in response to the virus escalation fueled by the fast-spreading delta variant.

Beshear wielded sole authority to call lawmakers into a special session and to set the agenda. But GOP supermajorities in both chambers will decide what measures ultimately pass.

“In previous surges, the governor, me, was empowered to act, to do what is necessary to stop the spike, flatten the curve, to save lives, but the recent state Supreme Court decision has changed that,” said Beshear. “Now, that burden will fall in large part on the general assembly. They have to carry much of that weight to confront unpopular choices and to make decisions that balance many things, including the lives and possible deaths of our citizens.”

Various emergency measures issued by Beshear are set to expire as a result of the landmark court decision. Lawmakers will decide whether to extend, alter or discontinue each emergency order, and they are expected to put their own stamp on the state’s response to COVID-19.

The state Supreme Court recently shifted those virus-related decisions to the legislature. The court cleared the way for new laws to limit the governor’s emergency powers, which he used to impose virus restrictions. The justices said a lower court wrongly blocked the GOP-backed measures.

Gov. Beshear said that as soon as the court decision was handed down, he began having conversations with Congressional leadership about measures the legislative body can take. He said information was exchanged and potential legislation was even drafted.

With measures set in place slated to evaporate on Sept. 10 when the declared state of emergency is scheduled to end, Beshear said that the general assembly will be asked to extend the state of emergency to Jan. 15, review the governor’s emergency powers.

“It will ask them review executive orders and agency and cabinet orders,” said Beshear. “It will determine my ability to require masking in certain situations depending where the pandemic goes and how bad any area is.”

The general assembly will also be asked to appropriate funding to further the fight against the virus and provide schools with flexibility. Also, funds will need to be looked at to provide for worker’s compensation for frontline workers if they come down with COVID-19, recognizing pulling in doctors and nurses that couldn’t practice in Kentucky, senior citizens being allowed refills extensions, “belt and suspenders foundational things” as Beshear referred to them.

Beshear did allow that even though the state is already overrun with COVID-19, if the general assembly will not provide the authority in general for him to act as he sees fit, then perhaps a threshold could be set where if rates can be kept in the green or yellow categories then mandates would go out of effect. Then, if rates surged into the orange or red categories again the mandates would go back into effect.

He also spoke about how the general assembly will need to address education.

“NTI, I think there are number of things on the table, flexibility in using NTI days not on just the district level, because you have got to have the entire district out to use NTI, moving that down to the school or classroom level is something that is going to be considered,” Beshear said. “I think there’s additional consideration to be made, whether it’s additional NTI days, or maybe something a little more limited and structured such as remote instruction and virtual instruction.”

Throughout the pandemic, Republican lawmakers watched from the sidelines as Beshear waged an aggressive response that included statewide mask mandates and strict limits on gatherings. Republicans criticized the governor for what they viewed as overly broad and stringent restrictions on Kentuckians. The governor lifted most of his virus-related restrictions in June.

Beshear said it will be up to the general assembly to decide if measures are to be statewide or targeted to areas of high impact.

Gov. Beshear is optimistic about the special session as he says that he believes everyone is working hard to get in, get out and have a good discussion.

“I hope we can have a constructive, if we can, low-drama experience next week where we try to do the work and get as close to agreement as we can,” said Beshear as he concluded.

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