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Gov. Beshear: Legislature Now ‘Owns’ Pandemic Following Special Session

Stephanie Wolf

When Gov. Andy Beshear called a special legislative session on COVID-19, he clearly outlined goals to fight the pandemic in Kentucky. 

Some of those items passed, including an extension of the state of emergency. But as predicted, masking was a point of contention — and in the end, the Republican-led legislature passed a bill reversing the Kentucky Department of Education’s mask mandate.

“The legislature owns this pandemic moving forward,” Beshear said at a Friday press conference, during which he relayed his frustration with state lawmakers.

Senate Bill 1 places the onus on individual school districts and their superintendents to decide whether masks are required in classrooms.

“The masking decision that the general assembly made was wrong, and it was also a punt,” said Beshear, adding that he had been willing to make the calls and take the hits, but the legislature and state Supreme Court took that ability away from him.

Now, he said, the legislature has chosen to “push the decision to others.”

The governor attempted to line-item veto parts of the bill that reversed the mask mandate, but the veto was easily overridden.

Beshear has yet to announce any plans to further challenge the bill.

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