RPK Chairman Mac Brown

Guest Commentary: Incentives, Not Mandates, Are the Way to Beat COVID-19 For Good

By Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown

Far too often throughout this pandemic, vaccine distribution has become politicized while the total needs of Kentuckians were ignored. Gov. Andy Beshear chose to decree certain mandates and rely on a one-size-fits-all approach, instead of working with lawmakers and local leaders on appropriate COVID-19 responses that would better serve the individual needs (economic, educational and health) of communities around the state.

Recently, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Beshear and allowed laws passed by the General Assembly that limited executive overreach to go into effect. In the wake of this ruling, Republicans are stepping up and taking the lead to encourage Kentuckians as communities and individuals to come together and put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us for good.

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With the court's ruling against the Governor's approach, Senate President Robert Stivers (right) announced a series of initiatives designed to encourage and incentivize individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Not only do I applaud this approach, I am proud to join President Stivers in encouraging communities and individuals across the state to work together to put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror once and for all.

In his proposals, President Stivers demonstrates his leadership by creating partnerships in his home county to address the pandemic. In short, President Stivers is attacking the problem at the grassroots level. Partnering with business owners, teachers and coaches, church leaders and more, President Stivers is bringing people together to encourage individuals to make the choice to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It is one thing for the governor to stand at a podium and tell people to do something, and that is all well and good, but leaders working together with known and trusted voices in their own communities have the potential for a much stronger localized impact.

President Stivers pointed to Maryland, a state with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, and divided state government (a Republican governor and a Democrat legislature) where a grassroots approach has proven effective. In Maryland, their governor used incentives to inform and engage communities to create trust that helps individuals make the choice to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.

Incentives that reward businesses, communities and individuals have proven effective and Kentucky would do well to follow these examples as proposed by President Stivers. It is no secret that the virus knows no political party. After more than a year battling this virus, we have a chance to move beyond the political bickering that has far too often marked this pandemic. With the Governor now realizing he needs to work with the legislature, we can accomplish this important goal through bipartisanship and move beyond much of the petty political squabbling that has far too often marked the pandemic since its onset last spring.

People need to come together to defeat the virus, not divide into groups. This is why President Stivers' grassroots approach is so critical. We need our leaders to build trust in our communities, not use divisive rhetoric and mandates. COVID-19 has been with us for more than a year and a half. Mandates like executive orders clearly haven't gotten rid of the virus, and it is time for a different approach.

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