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Kentucky Supreme Court rules in Gov. Beshear's favor

By Crystal Staley/Sebastian Kitchen

Frankfort, KY - Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday announced that the Kentucky Supreme Court has kept in place all executive orders related to the fight against COVID-19, including the mask order, until the court can hear full arguments from the Beshear administration and the attorney general's office and issue a final ruling.

"As many of you are aware, the attorney general had filed a motion to try to void every single order that had been put out to fight this pandemic," the Governor said. "That would mean every single set of rules that keep people safe, but that also means workers' compensation for our first responders when they've gotten quarantined because they've gotten the virus or been exposed to the virus. It was also almost every bit of flexibility we've been able to offer to our schools during this pandemic."

Early this morning, a Boone Circuit Court Judge was expected to sign an injunction nullifying many of Gov. Beshear's executive orders on COVID-19. The attorney general challenged the orders put in place to protect Kentucky lives, keep Kentucky from losing more than $10 billion in the economy and to help schools safely reopen this fall.

In an order issued this afternoon by unanimous decision, the Supreme Court stated, "Given the need for a clear and consistent statewide public health policy and recognizing that the Kentucky legislature has expressly given the Governor broad executive powers in a public health emergency, the court orders a stay of all orders of injunctive relief until such time as the various orders are properly before the court with a full record of any evidence and pleadings considered by the lower courts."

Gov. Beshear commended the Supreme Court's decision.

"Up until an hour ago, we faced a horribly uncertain future where a request had been made to have zero rules, the Wild West," he said. "No requirements to wear a mask even though Alabama and Colorado have both done it in the last couple of days. Without requiring businesses to do the cleaning that would make sure that you don't catch COVID-19. Without the requirement to even wash or sanitize your hands. It threatened all of the extra support that we've given to our first responders and it would be devastate our school systems."

Yesterday, the Governor reminded Kentuckians that in addition to seeking to invalidate the executive orders that keep us safe from COVID-19, the attorney general is also targeting other measures the Beshear administration has put in place to help during this global pandemic. The attorney general's actions include trying to void:

  • Healthy at Work requirements;
  • expanded NTI days for public schools, which give them the flexibility to cease in-person classes while continuing virtual instruction;
  • expanded workers' compensation eligibility for workers - including first responders, active military and grocery store employees - who are ordered to quarantine as a result of exposure; and
  • a measure that waives copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance.
If signed and allowed, the circuit court judge's injunction would have severely limited the governor's ability to protect Kentuckians from COVID-19, undoubtedly causing more people to suffer from a debilitating, preventable illness and killing many of our friends, family members and neighbors unnecessarily.

It would have threatened to overwhelm our hospitals, which risks the lives not just of COVID-19 patients and medical professionals, but the lives of anyone seeking care at a hospital for any reason.

The injunction would have increased the economic pain of our most vulnerable families and hindered the state's efforts to make COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing free to all Kentuckians.

It also would have forced public schools into an impossible choice - to stay open unsafely, or to cease all instruction - because the order would have:

  • limited schools to just 10 NTI days;
  • limited school employees to just three emergency leave days;
  • removed funding for any school that is not holding in-person classes;
In addition, the injunction would have called into question the diplomas and early graduation certificates issued to many students at the end of the 2019-20 school year, because it would void the temporary suspension of the civics test graduation requirement and end of course examinations for early graduates.

"I'm not excited because that is or could be perceived a win, I'm relieved. I'm relieved because I've sat up the last two nights not sleeping, worried about how many people would die if we didn't have any types of rules in place," Gov. Beshear said. "I've stayed up the last two nights not sleeping, wondering how many of our first responders would show up if we didn't have the authority to help them when they're down or get hurt. I've stayed up the last two nights wondering what our school districts could do and could they make a real decision or would they be so financially strapped that they'd be forced to make one."

This story was posted on 2020-07-18 02:54:17
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