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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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2 laws restricting Kentucky governor’s power challenged in court

Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Andy Beshear previously vetoed the pair of laws but was overridden by the Republican majority in the state’s General Assembly.

FRANKLIN, Ky. (CN) — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is challenging a pair of laws passed by the state’s General Assembly which he claims unlawfully restrict his executive powers.

The 42-page lawsuit was filed Friday and takes aim at two laws known as House Bill 248 and House Bill 388, claiming that the laws violate the separation of powers of Kentucky’s Constitution and strip away authorities reserved for the state’s governor.

“HB 248 and HB 388 are affronts to numerous provisions of the Kentucky Constitution, including the cornerstone separation of powers provisions that form the basis of our tri-partite form of government,” the lawsuit states.

The key challenged a provision of HB 248 that prevents the governor and any statewide official except the attorney general from using public funds to support a challenge to the constitutionality of any law or resolution passed by the state’s General Assembly.

“This is a blatant attempt by the General Assembly to shield unconstitutional laws it passes from judicial review, barring access to courts in violation of Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution, and invading on the Executive and Judicial Branches of the state government in violation of the strict separation of powers in Sections 27, 28, and 29 of the Kentucky Constitution,” wrote Beshear in his veto letter.

HB 388, on the other hand, restricts the financial powers of the governor by shifting the final approval over personal service contracts, tax incentive agreements and memoranda agreements entered by the executive branch to a state body known as the Government Contract Review Committee.

The GCRC is comprised of members appointed the state’s President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives. According to the lawsuit, the new law allows the committee to decide if a contract entered into by the executive branch should be modified or canceled and allows for no statutory mechanism to appeal the committee’s decision to the state’s treasurer. 

“The General Assembly passes many laws that must be carried out by contractual agreements, and the Governor executes his constitutional duty by exercising his administrative power to contract through his appointed Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet,” Beshear wrote in his veto latter. “Because House Bill 388 places the power of the Governor and his designees to enter into such contracts under the control of the GCRC and the Treasurer, it is unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit seeks an expedited review of the laws and asks the court to find both laws unconstitutional.

“By reason of the actions and violations described above, Plaintiffs are entitled to relief in the form of a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction and permanent injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing or operating pursuant to HB 248 and HB 388,” the lawsuit states.

Beshear has often been at odds with the Republican controlled General Assembly, who in addition to overriding his veto of the laws included in the lawsuit, also tossed aside vetoes on a law that limits abortion access in Kentucky and a ban on transgender girls and women from being able to participate on women’s sports teams starting in sixth grade up through college.

Beshear has not responded to a request for comment.

Categories / Government, Law, Politics, Regional

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