Special Session Ends: General Assembly Checks Governor While Missing Opportunities

September 10, 2021

Kentucky’s special legislative session, meant to address Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, concluded shortly before midnight last night.

We are thankful the Kentucky General Assembly took ownership of the COVID-19 response, which is where the Kentucky Supreme Court said the decision-making power belongs, and made the difficult decisions that are part of serving as our elected representatives.

The Republican majority, explaining a desire to shift emergency powers away from the Governor and toward local governments that are more accountable to constituents, struck down the statewide mask mandate for public schools that the Kentucky Board of Education issued in August and banned any type of statewide mask mandate for Kentuckians until mid-2023.

Governor Beshear vetoed portions of the bills, but the vetoes were overridden and the laws will go into effect.

In keeping with The Family Foundation’s core principles of engaging in public policy that protects religious liberty and parental rights, we informed you about a number of floor amendments filed during the special session that touched on those principles and members of The Family Foundation team were at the Capitol yesterday closely monitoring the debates.

While we understand the constraints of an emergency session and desire to limit its length to save taxpayers money, we are disappointed that the floor amendments addressing important topics of religious liberty and parental rights were not considered. We believe their consideration could have resulted in improved legislation.

We are grateful to Sen. Matt Castlen, Sen. Adrienne Southworth, Sen. Stephen West, Rep. Felicia Rabourn, Rep. Shane Baker, and Rep. Savannah Maddox for filing floor amendments on these important topics.

Emphasizing the importance of addressing vaccine mandates and religious exemptions, President Biden effectively issued a nationwide vaccine mandate last night. He is ordering all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment or require weekly testing.

This development is deeply concerning and will have far-reaching consequences for religious freedom, conscience rights, and for the rights of families to make their own health decision. This abusive act only further underscores how important it is for Kentucky to act to protect its citizens in the upcoming legislative session in January.