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Veto pen sharpened, Governor rejects four bills on abortion, taxes, public assistance, campaign finance

Governor Andy Beshear sharpened his veto pen on Friday and said no to four bills: a sweeping pro-life bill, an income-tax reducing bill, a bill flawed by reduction of campaign finance reporting, and a bill related to toughening public assistance access.

Beshear cited reasons for his actions in his veto messages.

Lawmakers return to Frankfort next week, April 13 and 14, where they will consider overriding any of the governor’s vetoes, and the Republican super-majority in the legislature has the votes to accomplish overrides.

House Bill 3, sweeping pro-life bill

Beshear vetoed a sweeping pro-life bill, calling it “likely unconstitutional.”

House Bill 3 addresses the disposal of fetal remains, the regulation of abortion pill dispensation, judicial bypass. and parental consent for abortion on minors, abortion complications, and abortion incidence reporting in the Commonwealth.
Beshear said in his veto message similar laws in Texas and Louisiana were struck down by the Supreme Court.

Governor Beshear

“House Bill 3 requires physicians performing nonsurgical procedures to maintain hospital admitting privileges in geographical proximity to the location where the procedure is performed,” Beshear said. “The Supreme Court has ruled such requirements unconstitutional as it makes it impossible for women, including a child who is a victim of rape or incest, to obtain a procedure in certain areas of the state.”

Beshear condemned the bill’s lack of exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

“Rape and incest are violent crimes,” he said. “Victims of these crimes should have options, not be further scarred through a process that exposes them to more harm from their rapists or that treats them like offenders themselves.”

Kentucky abortion law currently has provisions for victims of rape and incest.

Beshear also said HB 3 would “require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to, among other things, create three new full-time positions, build an electronic database to store and track a certification and complaint program and establish additional reporting requirements at an estimated initial cost of close to $1 million” without appropriating any funds to implement the changes.

The emergency clause in HB 3 fails to provide the Cabinet with resources or time to make the transition, he said.

Dr. Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, expressed disappointment in the governor’s veto decision.

“By vetoing HB 3 our governor has declared to all Kentuckians that he would rather have the support of the pro-abortion lobby than defend the life of the unborn,” Gray said.

Opponents of House Bill 3 have said if the measure becomes law it would eliminate access to abortion in Kentucky.

Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, called it a “sad day for the least among us in Kentucky.”

David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation, found the veto “deeply troubling. . .HB 3 simply protects the health and safety of both the mother and her preborn child.

ACLU of Kentucky Policy Strategist Jackie McGranahan applauded Beshear’s veto.

“This legislation was designed to push a safe and effective method of abortion care out of reach, shame and ostracize patients, and make the process of seeking and providing abortion care so difficult that patients may forgo care and providers may be forced to close their doors,” she said.

Jennifer M. Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, also called the bill unconstitutional in praised the veto “because it would effectively ban abortion in the Commonwealth, HB 3 . . .is unconstitutional, anti-science, and against the wishes of the majority of Kentuckians who want access to safe and legal abortion.”

The ACLU issued a statement in support of the veto, saying the “poorly written bill inserts politics into medicine, aggressively sidelines science in healthcare, and threatens the wellbeing of Kentuckians.”

Read the governor’s veto message here. Read the full text of House Bill 3 here.

House Bill 8, reducing income tax

This is legislation that would drop the state income tax by 1 percent and could even reduce it to zero eventually, if certain benchmarks on state revenue are reached.

Sponsored by Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, the bill reduces the state income tax rate from 5% to 4%, on Jan. 1, 2023. Further reductions are possible based on so-called “triggers,” which are dependent on increases in state revenue.

To offset the reductions, sales tax would be added to dozens of products and services that are not currently taxed, though groceries and pharmaceuticals would continue to be tax-exempt.

Beshear’s veto message stated, “It imposes new taxes that weaken public safety, harm vital industries, undermine economic development incentives, and threaten Kentucky’s future economic security.”

He also complained about the process used to enact the 208-page bill.

“House Bill 8 was revealed to many members of the General Assembly mere hours before it was passed. As a result, the people of Kentucky and their elected representatives were deprived of the opportunity to review and weigh in on the bill. Passing such legislation without public scrutiny ensures that only lobbyists and special interest groups can have their voices heard.”

Beshear also noted a situation that occurred in Kansas.

“The then-Governor of Kansas promised that similar tax cuts passed in 2012 would be a ‘shot of adrenaline into the heart of Kansas’ economy.’ The opposite was true, and five years later, Kansas had to roll back those tax cuts when its economy performed worse than the national average and the state could not provide essential public services.”

After the veto, the Republican Party of Kentucky issued a statement:

“With the highest inflation rate since 1982, Kentucky Republicans led the charge in cutting the income tax rate to deliver relief to Kentucky workers and families. Andy Beshear vetoed that relief,” RPK spokesperson Sean Southard said. “At a time when Kentuckians are facing historic inflation and the state coffers are brimming with money, Andy Beshear believes your money belongs to him. Kentucky Republicans believe your money belongs to you.”

Read the full bill here.

Senate Bill 216, election audits, campaign finance

Beshear vetoed legislation that would increase the number of counties subject to post-election audits by the Attorney General’s office, but would also reduce the number of campaign finance reports in non-election years.

In his veto message, the governor did not speak against the provision raising the post-election audits from six to 12 counties but instead concentrated on the campaign finance aspect.

“I am vetoing Senate Bill 216 because it reduces transparency in our elections,” he said. “Senate Bill 216 requires candidates for legislative office to file only annual campaign finance reports in years they are not running for reelection. Candidate financial reports are what provide transparency to the people of Kentucky who elect these officials. Without quarterly reports, candidates will be able to draft bills and serve on interim legislative committees, while receiving donations in secret.

“Studies have shown that legislators prioritize the interests of their donors, and more money is flowing into political races than ever before. As a result, it is more important than ever to maintain transparency and accountability in our elections.”

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, who worked with the Democratic governor on changes for the 2020 elections to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, issued a statement saying he was disappointed in the action.

“This measure doubles the number of counties subject to post-election audit; moves up to January 1, 2024, full transition to universal paper ballots statewide; and places voting machines under video surveillance during non-voting hours of election periods. These are nonpartisan, common-sense reforms that will improve our election process, as well as public confidence in that process.

“Just yesterday, the governor noted, rightly, that election policy ought to be made in a bipartisan fashion. Well, every single Democratic senator voted for this bill, along with 27 Republicans. More House Democrats voted for it than against it as well. If the governor will not be part of bipartisan policy-making, he at least ought not to obstruct it. Following his rejection of this bipartisan agreement, I hope all of these legislators will vote in bipartisan fashion to override his unfortunate veto.”

HB 7 – public assistance benefits

House Bill 7 is a bill relating to welfare and family services. It imposes new restrictions on public benefits that proponents say would weed out those who take advantage of the system and opponents say complicates the system. The bill would establish an oversight and advisory committee and a job placement assistance program.

Gov. Beshear vetoes four bills. (File photo)

Beshear said in his veto message that the bill “will hurt Kentuckians by threatening access to healthcare and making it harder for those in need to access crucial benefits. . .the bill will hurt families, seniors, children and those with disabilities and it will disproportionately affect the regions of the Commonwealth that lack access to health care, food, child care, and other assistance Kentuckians depend on..”

He said no appropriation was provided to allow the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to carry out its obligations.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky opposed the bill, saying “HB7 would institute several measures that would make it harder for Kentuckians to get and keep food assistance and health care coverage largely by creating added paperwork requirements. Such requirements also place a significant burden on administrators within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services who would be responsible for processing and validating the paperwork.”

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy estimated nearly 200,000 people could lose Medicaid coverage, and tens of thousands of Kentuckians could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits under HB 7.

Read the Governor’s veto message here.

Kentucky Today, NKyTribune Staff

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  1. Richard Hoffman says:

    Richard, Perhaps the governor realizes that he shouldn’t impose his religious beliefs and “morals” on everyone who may not hold the same view. If only all “religious” people would do that, it would be a more peaceful and loving world.

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