Kentucky Governor Declares Emergency Over High Gas Prices | Kentucky News
By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Governor Andy Beshear took action Thursday to combat any signs of rising prices at the pump, casting it as a consumer protection measure amid sky-high gasoline prices that weigh on Kentuckians’ budgets.
The Democratic governor signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to gasoline prices hovering around $5 a gallon. His action activated Kentucky’s price gouging laws.
Through her action, Kentucky consumers can report suspected pump price hikes to the office of state Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Beshear said “every little bit helps” in trying to offer relief to consumers reeling from soaring fuel prices. He acknowledged that a governor’s options are limited to deal with global economic turmoil.
Cameron responded by urging Kentuckians to alert his office to any signs of rising prices.
But the burning question reflected the political tension between the Democratic governor and the Republican attorney general who wants his job.
Beshear wrote to Cameron in early June asking if the subject of gas prices warranted an investigation.
In a recent response, Cameron blamed Democratic President Joe Biden’s energy policies for rising fuel prices in the country. Cameron accused Biden of pursuing an “extreme ‘green’ agenda.”
Cameron told Beshear that issuing a state of emergency would provide “little – if any – additional relief” to Kentuckians. But he is committed to fully enforcing predatory pricing laws.
Beshear offered a public response during its weekly press conference on Thursday.
“I firmly believe that even minimal relief is better than no relief,” the governor said.
Cameron’s letter said his office was already monitoring gasoline prices in Kentucky and that 263 complaints had been filed with his office since the start of 2022.
That’s the kind of compromise Kentuckians can expect as the political banter heats up ahead of the 2023 statewide election in Bluegrass State. Cameron is among several candidates for the GOP nomination for governor next year, when Beshear seeks a second term.
The governor has taken other steps to try to offer relief to Kentucky residents battered by rising prices.
Beshear recently took action to freeze Kentucky’s gasoline tax, preventing a 2-cent-per-gallon increase that would have taken effect July 1. This measure is expected to save Kentuckians about $35.4 million. In February, the governor took executive action to provide relief to Kentucky taxpayers impacted by pandemic-related increases to their vehicle property tax bills.
Beshear touts the state’s economic development gains during his tenure. He landed the two largest economic development projects ever undertaken by the state – the two battery factories.
The governor said Thursday that Kentucky’s unemployment rate has fallen to historic lows in consecutive months. And the state has the fewest number of residents collecting unemployment benefits since 2000, he said.
Republican House Speaker David Osborne later said the unemployment rates show that the “workers and jobs-friendly policies” enacted by the state’s GOP-dominated legislature are working.
“This announcement is not the result of press conference promises or ceremonial actions, but rather the hard work, tough decision-making and forward-thinking leadership of lawmakers who know first-hand just how important the Excessive government pressure is hurting the people of Kentucky,” Osborne said. .
State GOP spokesman Sean Southard, meanwhile, pointed to an aluminum producer’s decision to temporarily idle its smelter in Hawesville, Ky., due to soaring energy costs.
“Governor Beshear likes to say that Kentucky’s economy is on fire, and thanks to the Biden-Beshear program, nothing could be truer,” Southard said in a statement.
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