Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear will help lead a bipartisan task force of governors guiding economic recovery efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Governors Association named Beshear as a co-chair of its Economic Recovery and Revitalization task force, along with South Carolina Republican Gov. Henry McMaster.

The announcement comes as Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature is trying to strip Beshear of some powers, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and boost their own.

But Beshear has defended his handling of the crisis, and said in a statement on Wednesday that the rest of the country can learn from Kentucky’s approach.

“Here in Kentucky, we have worked to protect our economy and to prime it for success in the coming post-COVID era. I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned, studying lessons others have to offer and exploring new ways to keep America’s workforce and businesses thriving,” Beshear said.

The task force will guide states on issues dealing with energy, environment, infrastructure, land management, state stabilization and taxes on the state and federal level, according to Beshear.

Beshear points to polling that shows a large majority of Kentuckians support his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including restrictions on businesses, in-person school closures and limits on crowd sizes.

But Republican leaders of the legislature have been frustrated that state law gives the governor great power to handle states of emergency, largely without going through the 138-member legislature.

They argue that last year’s election boosting Republican ranks to all-time highs in the General Assembly — 75 out of 100 seats in the state House and 30 out of 38 seats in the Senate — was a mandate for them to tweak some of the governor’s powers.

The push has even led lawmakers to take the unprecedented step of forming a committee to consider an impeachment petition against Beshear filed by four citizens earlier this month.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.