On the first floor of the Capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear has been holding daily press conferences urging the public to practice social distancing, avoid large crowds and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has already claimed the lives of two Kentuckians. He has declared a state of emergency; issued an executive order banning all social gatherings — including church services; ceased all in-person dining at restaurants and bars; and temporarily closed schools, senior centers, daycares, salons, gyms, bingo halls and all state government buildings — including the Capitol.
Up in the second floor, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton took the historic step of signing an emergency order that virtually shut down the state’s court system until April 10.
All the while up on the third floor in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers, it’s been ho-hum business as usual with lawmakers lackadaisically moving through the legislative session.
“We believe that the General Assembly has a responsibility to the people of Kentucky and our membership is committed to fulfilling that obligation," House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said in a statement earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Beshear responded. “We’re here in a state of emergency where we are trying to protect the health of the people out there. I’m not playing the Republican or Democrat game, I’m not doing the back and forth.”
Finally, after days filled with mixed messages from top state officials Osborne and Stivers announced Thursday that the legislature will adjorn for one week and reconvene next Thursday — at which time it will work on an abbreviated schedule to finish work on the budget and other priorities. According to the plan, lawmakers will then return later in April to take up any gubernatorial vetoes.
We believe it is about time that all three branches of government in the Capitol — executive, judicial and legislative — get on the same page in response to the coronavirus pandemic. How do our elected leaders expect us to practice what they preach when they aren’t doing the same?