FRANKFORT (KT) – State lawmakers returned home for a 10-day recess and will return to Frankfort March 29-30 for the final two days of the 2021 General Assembly.
Those final two days are reserved for the chambers to vote on any vetoes issued by the governor. However, they can still take up any legislation they wish, so any bills and resolutions still pending are not officially dead until the chambers adjourn for good, on March 30, probably around 11:59 pm.
Of measures introduced this year, there are only two pro-life bills receiving final action from lawmakers.
One is Senate Bill 9, often referred to as the “Born Alive” bill.
“Whether it’s an abortion that didn’t work, or a premature birth, or whatever the circumstance might be, if a child is born alive, it must be given medical care consistent with whatever its needs are,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton. “This doesn’t change the standard of care, it doesn’t establish what that care must be, because medical professionals need to make that decision where they are at that moment, under the circumstances.”
When governors receive a bill from the General Assembly, they can sign it, veto it or let it become law without a signature. Although Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a similar measure in 2020, which could not be overridden since lawmakers had adjourned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year Beshear took the third option, allowing it to become law without his signature.
SB 9 contained an emergency clause, so instead of taking effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn, it became effective as soon as it became law.
Lawmakers also approved House Bill 2, which allows the attorney general to investigate and seek civil and criminal penalties for violations of Kentucky abortion laws, instead of requiring him to wait for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make a request.
HB 2 was vetoed by Beshear, but both the House and Senate overrode the veto by substantial margins. Since it also contained an emergency clause, it took effect immediately following the override votes.
A third pro-life measure is two steps away from final action.
House Bill 91 is a proposed constitutional amendment that simply states: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
It easily passed the House and has had two of the three required readings in the Senate but is still in the State and Local Government Committee, which needs to approve it before it can reach the Senate floor.