Kentucky governor signs coronavirus-relief bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Legislation offering relief to workers and employers suffering economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic was signed by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday.

The bill was put on the fast track by lawmakers last week as the Bluegrass State deals with rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths linked to the illness.

The Democratic governor thanked the Republican-led legislature for its quick action. The legislation reinforces many of the emergency actions already taken by his administration, Beshear said.

The relief bill comes amid a dramatically shrinking economy as businesses statewide are closed or scale back operations and tens of thousands more Kentuckians file for unemployment benefits.

The virus-relief bill has several layers to it but it includes putting relaxed access to unemployment insurance into law. It waives the seven-day waiting period for Kentucky residents to access unemployment benefits. It also extends benefits to the self-employed and others normally ineligible for assistance. And it allows workers cut back to part-time status to draw a partial benefit.

The bill also allows state licensing, renewal and application fees and administrative requirements to be waived for people or businesses. It also prevents a business owner's unemployment insurance rate from being impacted by layoffs due to the virus.