Beshear veto

(Kentucky Today/Tom Latek)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed 14 bills passed by the General Assembly before they left Frankfort for their ten-day veto recess, and which they can override when they return for the final two days of the 2023 regular session on March 29.

While his veto on Senate Bill 150 is reported in another story, one bill that could affect where civil lawsuits involving the state are heard was also vetoed.

SB 126 would allow parties to seek a change of venue with the circuit court where the suit was filed. The Supreme Court Clerk would then draw a county at random where the case would be transferred, without any kind of hearing.

In his veto message, Beshear called it, “an unconstitutional power grab by the General Assembly to control Kentucky judges, and force Kentuckians to challenge the constitutionality of governmental acts in places where they do not live and in courts they did not choose. SB 126 violates the separation of powers in the Constitution, creates an arbitrary process for selecting the venues of civil actions and blocks Kentuckians’ access to courts.”

SB 107, another high profile measure he vetoed, would require the Kentucky Education Commissioner to be confirmed by the Senate and be limited to a four-year term, although he or she could be reappointed.

In his veto message, Beshear said this would politicize the process and add an unnecessary bureaucratic obstacle to hiring and keeping the Commissioner. 

“The Commissioner of Education must by law have the professional qualifications the Kentucky Board of Education decides are appropriate for the office, and the Board selects the Commissioner after going through a national search for candidates.”    

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, the sponsor of SB 107, responded.

“The Governor would like to keep as much control as possible over the Kentucky Department of Education to continue indoctrinating students and causing gender confusion rather than caring for their ability to read, write and learn arithmetic. Given the Governor’s and current commissioner’s abysmal failure regarding Kentucky students’ learning outcomes, we must ensure legislative oversight and confirmation of the next education commissioner.”

While the Governor has ten days (excluding Sundays) to decide whether he will sign or veto legislation, there is also a third option: to take no action and allow the bill to become law without his signature.

That’s what happened with SB 4, which would require the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, to approve any plans by power companies to close fossil-fuel electric generating plants. The utility would have to prove the closure would not reduce the amount of generating capacity and that ratepayers would not have to pay costs for shuttering the plant, among other provisions.

When lawmakers return to Frankfort on March 29 for the final two days of the 2023 session, they can override any vetoes by a majority vote in each chamber. This differs from Congress, where a 2/3 majority is required by both the House and Senate to override a Presidential veto.