Op-Ed: Emergency Actions in Frankfort Show Government at Its Best
The following op-ed is written by State Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport)
I returned to Frankfort on Thursday with one purpose in mind--to pass legislation that will help the people of Kentucky through these difficult times. I was honored to have been selected as the only Democratic member from the Kentucky House of Representative to serve on the conference committee that drafted the House and Senate language for Senate Bill 150. This important legislation declared an emergency and addressed healthcare along with small business and employment issues. I am proud to say that after a long day of work, SB 150 passed both House and Senate with unanimous support. It was an example of government at it’s best, both parties working together in the best interests of the citizens.
SB 150 reinforces a series of emergency actions taken by Governor Andy Beshear, that offers flexibility and protections for our frontline healthcare providers, it includes provisions to speed up the unemployment filing process and offers flexibility for small businesses. By removing some of the government red tape during this emergency, small business owners and entrepreneurs will be able to bring products to the market in order to sustain their businesses during this restricted time period.
A key provision of the bill deals with unemployment and allows employees who have had their hours cut back or partially laid off, the ability to make a partial unemployment insurance claim to help cover some of those lost wages. It also exempts permitted restaurants from regulations prohibiting the retail sale of food items. Business license renewals and application fees will be waived until 30 days after the Governor calls off the state of emergency.
On the healthcare side, the bill removes restrictions for medical providers to allow them more flexibility with respect to telehealth and video appointments, providing them more authority to use telehealth technology, and they will be given more legal immunity when providing care in good faith. The same leniency will extend to businesses that retrofit their production lines to produce needed emergency health equipment.This measure not only includes physicians, but physical and occupational therapists and mental health providers can provide services through telephone or video chat.
I have served in the General Assembly in the House for less than a month, but what I experienced on Thursday, working with members of the House and Senate, of both political parties, was good government, it was what we were brought here to do.
Photo: Roberts sworn in earlier this year (provided)