PRNNWS-04-15-20 BECHLER COLUMN_MUG

Lynn Bechler

We were in session Tuesday and will possibly be in session Wednesday to consider overriding bills Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed and possibly pass a few more bills. So far, the governor has vetoed five bills. After today, we won’t go back in session until January 2021 unless the governor calls a special session before then.

As I write this, Easter is behind us and Passover is almost complete. It certainly is a different religious season than most of us have ever experienced. From drive-in services to live streaming services we are celebrating in ways that I never would have imagined.

The governor has news conferences almost daily and issues new executive orders almost as frequently. I understand that we are suffering through a crisis — both from a health standpoint and a government-induced standpoint — and steps need to be taken to mitigate the crisis. The governor has the authority to act in unusual ways during an emergency, and I believe that is reasonable and necessary.

I am concerned, though, that some of the governor’s executive orders are unreasonable, or at the very least illogical. If management at a hardware store can be trusted to keep those in the store safe, why can’t a pastor be trusted to keep parishioners safe? It seems to me that six-foot social distancing can be in place at both church and hardware stores.

What makes something essential? Why can a medical doctor touch a patient but a chiropractic can’t? Gloves, face masks, and other personal protection equipment could be used by both. Why can’t hospitals be allowed to admit patients other than those diagnosed with COVID-19? Hospitals have empty beds and are laying off staff because there isn’t enough work to do. The medical profession is full of smart people; I am sure different admitting procedures coupled with safe and separate wings could be set up to handle both.

How is it that all abortions are considered an essential service but treating someone with a severe headache without a high fever is not? If hotels in other parts of the country can be converted to a hospital, couldn’t an abortion clinic in Kentucky that already has medical equipment be converted to treat other patients? From March 1 through Easter Sunday, there have been 97 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Kentucky while there have been 522 abortions.

While a CEO of a corporation has the authority to make decisions for that corporation, the CEO can be directed by a board to take or not take certain action. In much the same manner, once the current crisis is behind us, I believe it is imperative that the General Assembly take a look at what powers the governor should have and what limitations should be placed on that power. The liberty we have as free people cannot be taken away from us arbitrarily.

Our economy is in serious trouble and a poor economy leads to high unemployment. High unemployment leads to poverty. Poverty leads to poor health. Poor health leads to death. If we are trying to reduce death, we must open our economy soon or at the very least begin to open it. Not doing so will inevitably make our current crisis much worse.

On another subject, 2020 is a census year as required by the U.S. Constitution and it is another victim of the COVID-19 crisis. Field operations of the Census Bureau have been halted and if you are like me, you haven’t received a Census form in the mail. The questionnaire may be completed at my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. You won’t be asked about income, education level, political party, or Social Security number and your answers will not effect the status of any benefit you might receive.

The Census is used to determine the number of U.S. Congress members each state is entitled to have. It also determines the geographic districts for each state senator and representative. As we know all too well, we send many of our dollars in the form of taxes to the federal government and the Census is used to determine how some of that money is returned to be used in the commonwealth.

Lynn Bechler is a Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing District 4, which includes Caldwell, Christian, Crittenden and Livingston counties.