- Associated Press - Monday, December 9, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - In a rousing farewell to people working in his administration, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said Monday that they helped put Kentucky on an upward trajectory as he prepared to hand over power to his Democratic successor, Andy Beshear.

Bevin received a long ovation from administration employees who lined a Capitol hallway as the outgoing governor walked to his office. Tears welled up in some eyes, and Bevin shook hands and hugged people who had worked to carry out his policies. They all gathered in the Rotunda, where Bevin said they had set a “new standard for how government should operate” in his single term.

The outgoing governor pointed to their efforts to cut bureaucracy, revamp the criminal justice system, improve health outcomes for Kentuckians and increase adoptions and foster care.

“You all have made it different, better, bright, more optimistic than we have ever felt in our lifetimes,” Bevin said of the state’s outlook.

The former Army officer gave his staff a salute as he walked to his office.

Beshear, who defeated Bevin in last month’s close election, takes office Tuesday.

Bevin, whose term was marked by a series of court battles with his adversaries, picked up a legal victory on his final day in office. The U.S. Supreme Court left in place a Kentucky law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before abortions.

Bevin is an outspoken abortion opponent. During his term, he signed a series of measures passed by the GOP-led legislature that put limits and conditions on abortion, including the 2017 ultrasound law. Those laws have triggered several legal challenges.

Enforcement of the ultrasound law had been on hold pending the legal challenge but will begin shortly, said Bevin’s general counsel, Steve Pitt.

“We have fought from the beginning on things that matter,” Bevin told reporters when asked about the high court’s refusal to review the ultrasound case. “We have fought for the sanctity of human life. We fought for the dignity of taxpayers. We fought for the educational opportunity of kids in our inner cities who have been failed. We have fought at every turn to help people have better life, better opportunity.”

Bevin, who came to politics from the business world, again offered no specifics about his future plans.

“There’s a hundred things that I or any one of us could pursue if we wanted to,” he said. “And so I look forward to figuring out which, or how many of the 100 next things on my list I get to do next. So we’ll see.”

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