State Rep. Rachel Roberts, D- Newport, voted against the bill saying she didn’t see how it made peop

(The Center Square) - Republicans in the Kentucky legislature are wasting no time in trying to exert some control over the COVID-19 restrictions Gov. Andy Beshear has put in place. On Thursday, both the state House and Senate passed bills that seek to curtail the Democratic governor’s control.

House Bill 1, which allows businesses or schools to remain open under certain conditions, passed that chamber by a 70-25 vote. Senate Bill 2, which would place limits on certain orders, passed by a 31-6 margin.

On Friday, both bills were approved by committees within the opposite chambers, setting them up for quick votes on the floors.

HB1, sponsored by state Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, would allow any business or school to remain open if they can develop operational procedures based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and offer explanations on how they will keep customers, students and employees safe.

“Since the first executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 6 of last year, Kentuckians have been subject to arbitrary and crippling restrictions which have led to unimaginable losses for working Kentuckians, their children’s education and livelihoods,” Rowland said in a statement Thursday. “This measure will give the reassurance that our businesses, especially retail and restaurant, that there will be no future shutdowns due to COVID-19.”

State Rep. Rachel Roberts, D- Newport, voted against the bill saying she didn’t see how it made people safer.

On Wednesday “we reported the highest number of new cases in our state,” she said on

the floor. “I fear this bill could actually speed up the threat of COVID-19 and make our workers less safe."

Roberts, who owns a yoga studio, said CDC guidelines do not always match the state’s requirements. In some cases the state is stricter. For example, the CDC says fitness facilities like her business should consider requiring cloth facemasks while the state mandates their use.

Three Republicans joined 22 Democrats in opposing the bill, although state Rep. Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, tweeted that she opposed the bill because of the CDC language.

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