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March 26, 2020 7:38pm

Kentucky General Assembly announces agreement on COVID-19 relief legislation

The Kentucky General Assembly announced an agreement between the House and Senate on a COVID-19 relief bill this evening. Last week, a House committee added language to Senate Bill 150 that would modify several state laws and regulations throughout the duration of the state of emergency declared by Governor Andy Beshear on  March 6, 2020. Lawmakers made adjustments to the bill since then and unveiled the full package today.

In explaining the bill on the Senate floor today, Senator Ralph Alvarado noted that several elements of the legislation were critical to clarifying the legal authority of the Governor and the Executive Branch in a time of emergency. The legislation also removes regulations, fees, and other burdens on businesses and establishes the some of the legal framework necessary for Kentucky to leverage expected federal funding.

Both chambers passed Senate Bill 150 with overwhelming bipartisan support, sending the legislation to the Governor for signature. The bill will go into effect immediately after the Governor signs it.

GLI has been in strong support of this legislation and led a grassroots effort urging lawmakers in Frankfort to take action.

What the bill does:

  • Fees and Regulations: Authorizes the Governor to waive certain fees and administrative requirements for businesses impacted by the pandemic, including licensing fees, renewal fees, application fees as well as the submission of forms, applications, and other administrative obligations as identified by the Governor.
  • Unemployment:
    • Authorizes the Governor to make changes to Kentucky’s unemployment insurance rules, including waiving wait periods and job-seeking requirements and extending benefits to self-employed individuals and other individuals traditionally ineligible for unemployment benefits.
    • Allows for modifications to rules related to the wage criteria used to determine if an individual is eligible for benefits, opens up benefits to individuals whose hours have been reduced, expands maximum annual benefits, and addresses reserve ratios for small businesses.
  • Taxation: Requires Kentucky to conform to any changes to federal tax filing requirements throughout the duration of the pandemic and clarifies the ability of local taxing jurisdictions to adjust tax filing and payment deadlines. This section also waives penalties related to tax filings and payments.
  • Telehealth: Eases telehealth regulations, increases access to telehealth, and provides liability protections.
  • Business Operations:
    • Clarifies the ability of businesses to produce personal protective equipment and public health related equipment even if those products are not part of that business’s primary mission.
    • Allows food service establishments (such as restaurants) to sell “grocery staples” without having to obtain a permit.
    • Allows restaurants and other alcohol license holders to sell alcohol for take-out and delivery in conjunction with food sales.