Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear signed eight bills on Tuesday, including measures that create tougher penalties for child predators, ban the solitary confinement of pregnant inmates, and ease pension payments for quasi-state agencies like rape crisis centers and health departments.

Beshear also vetoed five bills, including one that would restrict out-of-state open records requests and another taking food assistance away from noncustodial parents who are behind on child support.

Beshear said the bills he rejected aren’t in the “public’s interest or would violate the Constitution.”

Legislators are currently on a 10-day break during the legislative session while Beshear considers vetoing or signing bills that have passed so far this year.

Republicans control at least 75% of seats in both legislative chambers and can easily override Beshear’s vetoes during the final two days of the session on March 29 and 30

On Monday, Beshear vetoed five bills that would curtail his powers, including one that would strip his authority to fill U.S. Senate vacancies.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne said that Beshear “has no intention of working with anyone who may differ in opinion.”

“It is clear he plans to continue dictating inconsistent and arbitrary policies from behind a desk in the Capitol. The executive branch is just one of our state’s three branches of government, and each possesses a specific responsibility and corresponding authority,” Osborne wrote in a statement.

Earlier this year, Beshear rejected several bills that would strip his emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature overrode those vetoes, but a court has blocked parts of the measures while a lawsuit against them proceeds.

Here are the bills Beshear signed on Tuesday:

Senate Bill 66, strengthening background checks of workers at youth camps.

Senate Bill 64, boosting penalties for online child predators.

House Bill 472, lengthening the statute of limitations for sexual abuse offenses against children from five to 10 years

House Bill 7, creating a panel that would establish “recovery ready” standards for Kentucky communities to boost their drug abuse prevention and treatment efforts.

House Bill 273, exempting photos and videos of death, rape or abuse from Kentucky’s Open Records Act.

Senate Bill 84, banning solitary confinement for pregnant inmates in Kentucky prisons.

Here are the bills Beshear vetoed on Tuesday: 

House Bill 475, blocking Kentucky’s Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission from having safety regulations that are more strict than federal regulations.

Senate Bill 65, taking food assistance away from noncustodial parents if they fall behind on child support. Beshear called it a “cruel bill” that takes food benefits away from children.

House Bill 312, restricting out-of-state records requests and allowing the legislature to have final authority on whether to release its own records.

House Bill 272, allowing water districts to charge 10% late fees despite the state’s moratorium on late fees during the pandemic.

Senate Bill 105, creating procedures to establish responsibility for abandoned and blighted properties.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.