Kentucky AG Criticizes Governor’s Handling of COVID Crisis
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has also talked about striking the right balance, but he has clashed with Cameron and the Republicans who control the legislature on where that threshold should be. Kentucky has had fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths than some of its neighboring states, which have taken a less aggressive approach, and Beshear said his tactics saved lives.
Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley rebuffed Cameron’s criticism on Friday, saying the governor had consulted widely with health officials – including those in the administration of former President Donald Trump.
The governor had “the courage and the backbone to make the tough decisions,” she said.
On another key issue, Cameron described a possible deal with several drug companies as a “game changer” in Kentucky’s battle against opioid addiction. Cameron also said he plans to get re-elected as the state’s chief law enforcement officer in 2023.
Cameron has led legal battles against Beshear’s use of his executive authority to impose restrictions in the event of a pandemic. Beshear won a round last year in the state Supreme Court.
Their latest showdown revolves around new state laws to restrict these executive powers.
Beshear filed a lawsuit challenging the measures, which resulted in a lower court ruling that temporarily blocked the laws. The lawsuit reached the state’s High Court, which heard arguments in June. Cameron’s criticism of Beshear’s handling of the coronavirus crisis echoed complaints from GOP lawmakers.
“What the governor has done is undertake a stand-alone strategy,” Cameron said Thursday. âWhich means that he did not consult the General Assembly. He certainly did not consult this office (of the GA) or others regarding decision making. “
Staley, the governor’s spokeswoman, responded on Friday that Beshear administration officials had made numerous appearances before lawmakers to testify about the virus.
âAt a time when we have already lost 7,300 Kentuckians to COVID-19 and the delta variant is increasing cases and hospitalizations at an alarming rate, the attorney general and other officials continue to play politics with the pandemic instead of working to protect our people, âshe said.
Beshear lifted virus-related restrictions on businesses and gatherings in June. The governor says Kentucky’s economy has rebounded and is booming.
One of the laws under judicial review would limit governor’s orders for emergencies to 30 days, unless extended by lawmakers. Under another measure, businesses and schools are expected to comply with either the governor’s COVID-19 guidelines or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They could follow the less restrictive standard.
The General Assembly said: ‘We understand that there is a health crisis, but what we want is a seat at the table so that we can reflect and represent the views of our constituents,’ Cameron said Thursday. “I respect and appreciate that they did this, and I think it was appropriate.”
Meanwhile, Cameron was optimistic about the impact of a possible $ 26 billion settlement with several drug companies, resulting from the nation’s opioid addiction crisis and overdoses. Kentucky’s share is said to be over $ 460 million and could be used for intervention, treatment and recovery services.
Cameron said his office is reviewing the proposed deal with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three drug distribution companies – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. Cameron said he was optimistic that the settlement would go ahead.
âThis is going to be a game-changer in many ways,â he said Thursday.
It comes as Kentucky’s opioid problems have worsened. A new report says fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky increased by nearly 50% last year. He highlighted the prevalence of fentanyl and the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as key factors.
The settlement money would support efforts to “break the cycles of addiction” with treatment and rehabilitation services that “put people back on their feet and help restore hope,” Cameron said.
Meanwhile, Cameron said he’s still wondering if he’ll run for re-election in 2023.
âI want to be deliberate in the thinking process,â he said. âThe conversation with my wife is essential in this kind of consideration. We just announced that we are having a baby boy. So, as far as what concerns us in terms of priorities, having a healthy pregnancy and spending time with our newborn baby is going to be the most important thing coming for us. “