Andy Beshear

Delta Variant Fueling Rise In Kentucky COVID-19 Cases

Jul 20, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cases of COVID-19 are again on the rise in Kentucky prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to issue a new round of recommendations to combat the spread of the Delta variant.  

New cases have nearly tripled in Kentucky since late June with 2,992 cases reported last week. The positivity rate, which in recent months dipped below 1%, is now at 5.48%. State health experts estimate more than half of all new cases are attributable to the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than the original virus. 

The Delta variant poses the greatest risk to unvaccinated Kentuckians, though higher case counts also encompass a higher number of “breakthrough cases,” where vaccinated people come down with the virus.

Public Health Commission Dr. Steven Stack said the more unvaccinated people in a population, the greater the risk is for everyone, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, to contract the virus. But the inverse is also true. As the number of vaccinations increased from March through June, the overall number of infections decreased.

Corrine Boyer

Kentuckians receiving unemployment benefits could be eligible for a $1,500 payment if they re-enter the workforce by the end of July.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the new back-to-work incentive at a press conference Thursday afternoon. Kentucky officials estimate roughly 60,000 residents are receiving $300 in weekly pandemic unemployment assistance on top of state unemployment benefits. The state is setting aside $22.5 million in federal CARES Act funding for the new program, which would cover the incentive payments for 15,000 participants.

Some critics have called for the end of the additional unemployment benefits. Beshear says doing so would harm Kentucky families and the economy.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican lawmakers clashed with officials from Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration during the first meeting of the legislature’s Unemployment Insurance Reform Task Force Tuesday.

Like much of the nation, Kentucky struggled to keep up with a massive influx of applications for unemployment benefits during the pandemic, leading to a backlog of benefitsfraudulent claims and a data breach.

Republicans have blamed Beshear for the problems and this year the GOP-led legislature created the task force to look for solutions to the state’s unemployment system.

Sen. Mike Nemes, a Republican from Louisville and co-chair of the panel, said the issue is important, but lawmakers aren’t trying to blame anyone.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday over the legislature’s attempt to limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers, a day before the governor scheduled coronavirus restrictions to expire.

The Republican-led legislature passed several laws undermining the Democratic governor’s emergency powers earlier this year—including a measure limiting executive orders to 30 days unless renewed by lawmakers and requiring him to seek approval from the attorney general in order to suspend statutes during states of emergency.

Amy Cubbage, Beshear’s general counsel, argued that since the Kentucky constitution makes the governor the “chief executive,” the governor’s emergency powers are protected.

Stephanie Wolf

On Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the legislature can limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers.

Beshear issued dozens of executive orders throughout the coronavirus pandemic, limiting crowd sizes, requiring people to wear masks and imposing curfews at bars and restaurants.

But Republican lawmakers passed several bills earlier this year attempting to undermine the Democratic governor’s ability to respond to states of emergency on his own.

Beshear sued and Franklin Circuit Court agreed to block those measures. After an appeal from Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the challenge will now be tested before the state’s highest court.

Kentucky Ending COVID-19 Restrictions June 11

May 14, 2021
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Kentucky will end the remaining COVID-19 restrictions beginning June 11, Gov. Andy Beshear said on Friday. 

On that date, the state will eliminate the mask mandate in most circumstances and restore all venues and events to 100% capacity limits. The additional month allows the opportunity for children ages 12-15 and others who have not yet been vaccinated to receive a shot before restrictions end, Beshear said.  

“Our war has been long. Our casualties have been heartbreaking, but victory is in sight and the end is near,” Beshear said. He later added, “let’s be clear, a return to full capacity could raise the risk of exposure to those not vaccinated, but the solution is to get your vaccine.”

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance is reinstating work search requirements for residents seeking unemployment benefits.

The state waived work search requirements at the beginning of the pandemic to make the benefits process easier for out-of-work Kentuckians. Starting May 9, however, claimants will have to prove they are actively seeking employment to receive benefits.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said claimants will have to report at least one attempt to find work per week.

“You are allowed a reasonable period of time to find work that is comparable in pay and skill level to your most recent employment,” Cubbage said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear is challenging a new law that shifts control over the State Fair Board from his office to Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

House Bill 518, which became law last month, removes the Democratic governor’s power to appoint the chair of the fair board and gives Quarles power to appoint nine of the 14 voting members on the board.

It’s one of several measures passed by the GOP-led legislature this year shifting the governor’s powers to state offices currently controlled by Republicans.

Beshear argues that the law violates the state constitution by giving appointing authority to Quarles, who he says “does not have the supreme executive powers of the Commonwealth, and does not have the constitutional duty to ensure the laws are faithfully executed.”

Kentucky Supreme Court To Hear Coronavirus-Related Cases

Apr 18, 2021
Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky’s Supreme Court has agreed to take up the Democratic governor’s challenge of Republican-backed laws aimed at limiting his authority to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GOP-led legislature passed the measures over Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes. The governor immediately filed a lawsuit. The new laws curbing his executive powers were temporarily blocked by Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.

The Supreme Court says it will extend its review to a second pandemic-related case at the same time. Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. says the review will be expedited. The court will hear arguments June 10 in both cases.

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Gov. Andy Beshear said he would lift several capacity restrictions currently in place across the state once 2.5 million Kentuckians get at least a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. He said that represents about 70% of Kentucky residents currently eligible to get a vaccine.

As of Sunday, about 1.5 million Kentuckians had gotten at least a first shot. Beshear said it could take four to six weeks to reach the threshold he announced on Monday.

“We’re boosting capacity across the state. There are now clinics in every single community,” Beshear said. “No matter where you live, you can likely get a shot of hope in the next week, all you gotta do is get online or pick up the phone and sign up.”

Beshear Signs Law Limiting No-Knock Warrants

Apr 9, 2021
Governor's Communications Office

Bills limiting no-knock warrants, increasing support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and investing in west Louisville became law in Kentucky on Friday.

Gov. Andy Beshear signed the three bills at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, in front of an audience that included Tamika Palmer. Her daughter, Breonna Taylor, was shot and killed last year by Louisville police who were authorized to raid her apartment by a no-knock warrant.

Palmer wiped tears from her eyes and stood behind Beshear as he signed Senate Bill 4. The measure puts limitations on no-knock warrants, but falls short of the all-out ban on such warrants that protesters and some lawmakers preferred. No-knock warrants were already banned in Louisville last summer as protesters demanded accountability for Taylor’s killing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

New cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky have plateaued following 12 weeks of declining cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday. 

Infections are on the rise around the country, particularly in parts of the midwest including Michigan and South Dakota, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The seven-day average of new cases in Kentucky also increased slightly last week while test positivity rates, a leading indicator of where infection rates are headed, have remained fairly steady over the last three weeks, Beshear said. 

At the same time, Kentucky is continuing to see a growing number of infections related to a more transmissible variant of the virus known as B.1.1.7, which health experts say is likely to become the dominant version of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Stephanie Wolf

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear praised the Republican-led legislature for funding broadband, water and school construction projects with Kentucky’s share of the federal coronavirus relief package, saying it would create jobs and boost the state’s economy.

Lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion of stimulus money during this year’s legislative session—nearly half the total amount Kentucky state government will get from the federal package.

Beshear estimated the effort would create about 14,500 jobs and that legislators were off to a “good start.”

“It’s one of the first times we’ve been able to work together that closely, and I think it’s going to be good for everybody,” Beshear said.

Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky lawmakers voted to override most of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes on the second-to-last day in this year’s legislative session, securing the passage of several conservative laws and shifting power from the governor to Republican officeholders.

Beshear vetoed all or part of 27 bills during the 10-day veto period that ended last weekend.

But Republican legislators easily overrode Beshear’s actions, doubling down on bills weakening open records laws, limiting worker safety rules and barring Beshear from spending federal coronavirus aid.

They also overrode Beshear’s vetoes of the state budget bill: zeroing out funding for the Commission on Women, freezing new mine safety inspector positions and giving Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, not the governor, final say on lawsuits over the budget.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear issued several line-item vetoes to the budget and revenue bills on Friday, rejecting language that blocks him from spending funds from Kentucky’s share of the recent coronavirus-relief package.

Beshear also vetoed parts of the budget zeroing out funding for the Commission on Women, freezing new mine safety inspector positions and requiring the state treasurer to approve travel on the state aircraft.

The Republican-led legislature will likely override Beshear’s vetoes when lawmakers return for the final two days of this year’s session on Monday and Tuesday.

In his veto message about the executive branch budget bill, Beshear wrote that by requiring legislative approval to spend relief money, lawmakers were hindering the state’s ability to recover from the pandemic.

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