On March 26, the Kentucky General Assembly approved a measure which will now head to Gov. Andy Beshear's desk to be signed into law, taking several measures to assist in the response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The measure, Senate Bill 150, takes several actions, including giving legislative support to actions Beshear has already taken, such as in the area of unemployment insurance, as well as giving flexibility in areas such as license renewals and other government business.
According to a statement from the House Democratic leadership office, the bill gives state officials more authority to expand unemployment eligibility during the state of emergency, including granting it to those who might otherwise not be eligible or who have not lost their jobs but have seen a significant reduction in hours as a result of COVID-19 closures. The legislation also gives businesses more leniency when acquiring or renewing needed licenses.
Also under the bill, the statement said, healthcare providers will have more authority to use telehealth technology, and they will be given more legal immunity when providing care in good faith. The same leniency will extend to businesses that retrofit their production lines to produce needed emergency health equipment.
In another main provision, according to the Democratic statement, Senate Bill 150 also gives more flexibility for legislative bodies to meet in teleconference, and it allows restaurants to sell grocery staples like milk and bread as well as deliver alcohol, as long as they are authorized to sell it and it is packaged and delivered properly where allowed.
In a joint statement, House Democratic leaders Joni Jenkins, Derrick Graham and Angie Hatton praised the bipartisan work that went into Senate Bill 150.
“This bill will go a long way toward giving more Kentuckians the help they need to get through this pandemic, and it also is a perfect example of what happens when both parties and both chambers work together on solutions,” they said. “Difficult choices lie ahead, but if we can continue down this bipartisan path, we are confident we will come through this crisis better than most if not all states.”
According to the statement, Beshear is expected to sign the measure into law.