The Kentucky House of Representatives has formed a committee to consider a petition to impeach Gov. Andy Beshear.
Speaker of the House David Osborne, R-Prospect, said under law the House doesn't have a choice but to take action after receiving the petition, which includes multiple allegations that the governor violated both the Kentucky Constitution and the U.S. Constitution in a series of executive orders responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have to take it seriously," Osborne said during a Saturday press conference. "This is a serious issue, regardless of whether anything comes of it or not."
Osborne said he hadn't read the petition yet and didn't know if the accusations were serious, but "for someone to propose undoing an election of a state executive ... it's a very, very serious accusation."
Crystal Staley, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said the action is "silly and completely unjustified."
"The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled every step the Governor has taken is legal. But more concerning, this is the type of dangerous, angry rhetoric and disinformation that led to Wednesday's attack on the U.S. Capitol and our very democracy," Staley said. "People are watching and listening. Everyone has a duty to be responsible."
Jacob Clark of Grayson County, Tony Wheatley of Mercer County, Randall Daniel of Bullitt County and Andrew Cooperrider of Fayette County outlined eight allegations in their petition, saying Beshear "violated the rights of Kentuckians."
The petition referenced multiple steps the governor took in response to the coronavirus pandemic after declaring a state of emergency in March, including ordering nonessential businesses to close to in-person traffic, instituting a travel ban, ordering churches to close to in-person services and expanding voting procedures to allow mail-in voting during the 2020 elections.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in November it was within Beshear's authority to issue those executive orders in an emergency after Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined challengers who said Beshear had overstepped in his actions meant to stem the spread of the virus.
Osborne said the petition doesn't require the House to vote.
"It just requires the committee act, and the committee's action can be to do nothing."