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KING: Legislature leaves Frankfort, ends session

The 2020 General Assembly has adjourned sine die.

You may have heard that term used in the past few days. It is a Latin term meaning “without day.”

If a meeting ends with no set day to get back together, it is adjourned sine die.

There is a date set for the General Assembly to return for the 2021 regular session but that will be on Jan. 5, 2021.

As I left my home earlier in the week and traveled to Frankfort for our two last days of the 2020 regular session, I reflected on just how irregular the session truly was. 

In the weeks since the first case of COVID was diagnosed, I worked with other members of the General Assembly to pass legislation that provides the tools our state needs at this time.

Senate Bill 177 gives our schools more flexibility and support in reaching our children, helping employers and small businesses, and helping Kentuckians who have lost jobs or had their hours cut because of COVID. 

SB 150 expands unemployment insurance benefits for employees and prevents businesses from having their unemployment insurance rates negatively affected if they have to lay off or cut hours due to COVID. This bill also gives some flexibility and cuts red tape for medical providers, the courts and our farmers.

HB 387 gave Gov. Andy Beshear the authority to use restricted funds to purchase personal protective equipment (face masks, medical gowns, gloves) for health care workers.

HR 135 creates a legislative task force to consider ways to improve emergency preparedness.

Though we tried to have as minimal a footprint as possible, members of the Kentucky House of Representatives continued these final days of session to do the work of the people of this great commonwealth.

That is why you sent me to Frankfort.

We are obligated by the state constitution to pass a budget and respond to any vetoes enacted by the governor.

Just as we did on April 1, we were able to vote from anywhere on the Capitol grounds. Doing so limited the number of individuals on the House floor while still ensuring we could cast votes on your behalf.

We also had plenty of work to do on top of overriding many of the governor’s budget vetoes.

This state, much like the rest of the nation, is hurting. We have to have a safe and solid plan to return to some sense of “normalcy” once this crisis has abated.

I put quotations around “normalcy” because we will not, as a society, be able to go back fully to the way things were before COVID-19 became a clear and present danger to America and the world.

Though it unfortunately did not pass through the Senate, the House version of SB 136 was a measured, gradual way forward that takes us from focusing on what is essential to deciding what can be done safely.

We have to be every bit as successful in recovery as we have been in dealing with the spread.

This legislature has a proven record of building the economy, and until now, our state has experienced record economic growth, new jobs and investment.

We can get there again, but we need to work together to do it. 

The House version of SB 136 provides the beginning framework for safely putting Kentucky back in business and helping Kentuckians rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

The bill would have required licensing and regulatory agencies and organizations to develop guidelines for health care facilities, occupations and businesses to open and operate safely once Kentucky is past what public health officials consider the critical point of the COVID spread.

It allowed for chiropractic care to be considered essential and increased much-needed mental health services for Kentucky schoolchildren.

It exempted those who come to Kentucky to assist with COVID-19 and other emergencies and disasters from the state income tax.

We were proud of these measures, but unfortunately we were not able to pass it through the full legislature on these last days. 

I also voted proudly to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2, which is the first step in Secretary of State Michael Adams’ plan to make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

This bill would require that voters present a state-issued photo ID to cast their ballot.

At a time when you have to present some form of ID for a good deal of what we do in society, there is no reason not have an ID you can present to vote. When you have to present ID to be tested for COVID-19, I think most reasonable people could infer the same should apply to our constitutional right to vote.

All Americans and all Kentuckians have the right to have their voices heard, but they have the right to have their voices heard once every election.

There are voter rolls in some precincts in this state that have more registered voters than residents.

Something seems a bit off about that to me and it should to you as well.

The House also approved SB 9, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

This pro-life legislation has several sections that define how our state abortion clinics will operate. However, the core of this bill mandates that any baby born alive after a botched abortion will receive proper medical care. Health care workers will be required to provide life-saving medical attention to newborns born under this circumstance.

I believe it is our duty as elected officials to take every step possible to ensure all babies are protected. The bill gives these babies the same protections under the law as any other person in the commonwealth.

Any provider who willfully withholds care from an infant born from a failed abortion could be charged with a felony.

The second important tenet of this legislation removes power from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and gives our state’s attorney general the authority to oversee abortion clinics to ensure they are acting legally under regulations.

It only makes sense that publicly elected officials, and not government bureaucrats, would have the power to regulate an industry that is responsible for the loss of thousands of babies each year.

I feel confident our current pro-life attorney general will succeed with this responsibility.

Finally, and perhaps most timely given our current pandemic, this bill dictates that abortions are elective, non-essential medical procedures. 

The attorney general reasoned that elective medical procedures require the use of PPE, or personal protective equipment, which is needed to fight the outbreak. However, the governor has refused to deem abortions as elective procedures, not only saving lives but also freeing up valuable personal protective equipment to be used in COVID-19.

This stance is not only contradictory but extremely disturbing and troubling. We should be taking every step to preserve scarce medical equipment and not wasting it on the destruction of innocent lives.

The governor and the abortion clinics cannot have it both ways. They cannot halt elective procedures that will ease pain and improve the health of patients, while still using PPE to perform harmful abortions.

Every day, medical personnel are furloughed because of a lack of resources because the stoppage of medical procedures. It’s disingenuous for the governor to allow abortions to continue while our hard-working medical professionals are dealing with forced layoffs.

I was proud to join my colleagues in addressing these discrepancies through SB 9. Everyone must be held to the same standard, and this bill does exactly that.

This General Assembly has been called one of the most pro-life bodies that the state has ever seen, and I am proud we continued this trend up until the very end of this session.

These are such strange times.

At a time when our state prepares for the worst, we pray for the best. We have hope in a God that will see us through these trying times. That is why we were here these last few days of the 2020 regular session.

We know your pain because we are Kentuckians too. We are where you are. We see you and we hear you.

And through us, you are heard throughout the state as well.    

Members of the General Assembly, though not in session, will continue to help move Kentucky forward through this crisis.

I can continue to be reached through the toll-free message line.

If you have any comments or questions, call 1-800-372-7181. You can follow me on Twitter by searching @KimberlyKingGOP or contact me via email at Kim.King@lrc.ky.gov.

You can also keep track through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov.