2021 Special Session Convenes
September 7, 2021: Today marked the first day of the 2021 Special Session, which convened at the call of Governor Andy Beshear. The first legislative action we undertook as a body was the passage of House Joint Resolution 1, which has generated a myriad of questions from constituents and citizens across the Commonwealth. I voted “no” on this bill for one simple reason: I do not agree with extending the state of emergency or prolonging emergency measures any longer. We have been grappling with COVID since 2019, and we will soon be approaching 2022. I voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 77 last session (which extended select executive orders and administrative regulations for 90 days while ending all executive orders that infringed upon liberty), because it was reasonable and necessary to make a transition at that time. That time has elapsed, and I do not believe that the Commonwealth of Kentucky should be under a state of emergency or subject to emergency measures. Moreover, 24 other states have allowed their emergency orders to expire. It is time to wean our great state off federal funding, and it is time to rebuild our economy by getting Kentuckians back to work.
Nevertheless, I want to provide a comprehensive breakdown of what HJR 1 does and does not do. I do not take issue with some of these items conceptually, in fact I would likely support the deregulatory measures as a matter of permanent policy if they were offered outside of extending the state of emergency.
What HJR 1 does not do:
-Does not allow Governor Beshear to declare a new emergency on the same or similar facts
-Does not allow Governor Beshear to issue new or renewed mandates such as the ban on religious services, economic shutdowns, or mask mandates
What HJR 1 does:
-Extends SB 5 liability coverage for Kentucky’s businesses, in relation to COVID
-Secures current or future federal funding, including reimbursements, related to COVID
-Relaxes regulations on pharmacies
-Waives health insurance costs for COVID-19 screening, testing, and immunization
-Allows retired first responders to return to work during an emergency
-Allows retired state employees to return to work during an emergency
-Prohibits price gouging
-Allows unemployment benefits for employees who contracted COVID while at work
-Requires state agencies to encourage social distancing, provide and conduct services by mail, internet, phone, and/or video conferencing
-Extends licenses, credentials, or certificates that require in-person appearances for or education for renewal
-Extends deadlines for statutory or regulatory reporting
-Extends deadlines of fees, taxes, and assessments, and waives late payment penalties incurred
-Suspends statute to allow APRNs to prescribe legend drugs and controlled substances
-Allows pharmacists to conduct COVID testing
-Extends the state of emergency that was issued for a flash flood in Nicholas County (I hate that this measure was not taken up separately, as I wholeheartedly support providing assistance for the folks in Carlisle who are suffering from the aftermath of a natural disaster)
When I first received word that the legislature was heading into a special session, I made a commitment to my constituents and the citizens of the Commonwealth: I will not vote in favor of any new or renewed mandates. I will not support any effort to shut down schools, and I will continue fighting against mandatory vaccination, universal masking, and every other form of government overreach. I will remain consistent in the position that I have held since March of 2020 when COVID restrictions first began, and I will fight to get Kentucky back on the path to prosperity.