Reigniting old debate, Republicans in Kentucky will return essential services to churches under bill passed

After Governor Andy Beshear froze large gatherings, including church services, a litany of heated debates ensued.

Elements of those debates are still floating around the General Assembly, as can be seen from House Bill 43a piece of legislation which has been passed by both houses and which would prevent a “governmental entity” from banning operations or religious gatherings during a state of emergency to a greater extent than those imposed on essential services “vital to the health and welfare of the public.”

The bill passed the Senate 30 to 7 and is now heading to the governor’s office. Republican lawmakers have a supermajority in both houses and can override a governor’s veto.

The bill would also prevent the government from taking “discriminatory” action against a religious organization, which would include changing tax structures, imposing fines, or reducing grants, loans, contracts or benefits. similar.

During debate on the bill, Sen Robby Mills, a Republican from Henderson, said church services are an important part of mental health.

“It feeds our soul, helps us mentally, and places a purpose within us to be better and to love others better,” Mills said.

Senator Karen Berg, a Democrat from Louisville, voted against.

When explaining her no, she said the bill would sue the state.

“I might add that I too am extremely religious, and somehow my congregation was able to maintain online services with in-person communication with congregations in need throughout this pandemic with very little disruption to our congregation, so it’s doable,” Berg said.

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Michelle J. Kelley