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January 13, 2020 4:38pm

KYGA20: First week wrap-up

The 2020 session of the Kentucky General Assembly got underway last week on January 7th. This is a 60-day session where legislators will consider and act on the biennial state budget. There were no committee meetings during the week. Legislative activity was confined to the House and Senate Chambers with the filing of bills and referral of bills to committees. By week’s end, 325 bills had been filed with 241 having been introduced in the House and 84 in the Senate.

Legislative Activity

The Chambers generally designate their priorities for the session by the assignment of a low bill number. Based on this tradition the Senate’s priorities for 2020 are:

  • Senate Bill 1 Sen. D. Carroll and others. SB 1 would prohibit universities and other public agencies from adopting any immigration “sanctuary” policies.
  • Senate Bill 2 Sen. R. Mills and others. SB 2 would require voters to produce a photo ID in most instances prior to casting their ballot.
  • Senate Bill 3 Sen. C. McDaniel and others. SB 3 proposes to amend the Constitution to move elections of state law officers to even numbered years, beginning in 2028.
  • Senate Bill 4 Sen. J. Higdon and others. SB 4 proposes to cut back on the authority of the Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet and to establish a Kentucky Transportation Board to determine the state road plan and Transportation priorities.
  • Senate Bill 5 Sen. R. Alvarado and others. SB 5 is a bill that would require any special purpose governmental entity (special district) to submit proposes for increases for taxes or fees to the legislative body of the city or county in which it is located.

Each of the Senate’s priority bills was taken from the committee to which it had been assigned this week and given a reading, effectively readying these bills for quick action next week. We are expecting Senate Bills 6-10, additional priorities for the Senate, to be filed on Monday.

The House has yet to file and designate its priorities for the session.

The Chambers also took several other steps of a housekeeping nature during the week, including adopting their rules for the session. The House took the significant step of doing away with the consent calendar, a procedure for adopting a number of (usually) non-controversial bills as a group without debating or voting on them individually on the floor. The elimination of the consent calendar was explained as a step toward further transparency in the legislative process. This step may, however, create a logjam, particularly late in the session, when dozens of bills used to be adopted as a group by consent. The new House rules try to offset this by a change to the rule on explanation of votes during debate, dropping the time limit for explanation from 3 to 2 minutes.

In other housekeeping measures, the chambers made some shifts in members’ committee assignments to account for changes in membership due to resignations and special elections.

House President Pro Tem David Meade was designated by the Majority Caucus to act in the role of Majority Floor Leader in the absence of Rep. John “Bam” Carney, who fell ill last month and remains hospitalized.

State of the Commonwealth and Budget Address

In other developments this week, the dates for two significant addresses were announced: Governor Andy Beshear will speak to Joint Sessions of the General Assembly with his State of the Commonwealth speech on January 14 and a budget address on January 28. These are always significant session milestones that will be especially meaningful this year as the new Democrat governor goes before Republican supermajorities of each chamber to outline his policy and spending priorities.

Candidate Filing Deadline

Another important session milestone, the deadline for filing for office for legislative races, was passed on January 10, which is several weeks earlier than in past sessions due to a statute change. We will have further analysis of upcoming races at a later date, but here’s a first look at the candidate filings:

Senate

With one-half of the 38 members subject to re-election:

  • Eight Senators are unopposed (4 Rs & 4 Ds) including Stivers, McGarvey, and the Republican running for Humphries seat.
  • 3 Open Seats: 2 Ds & 1 R – Sen. Clark, Sen. Humphries, and Sen. Carroll
  • 2 Senators with a primary: Girdler & Robinson

House

With all 100 members of the House subject to re-election:

  • 28 House races are unopposed (16 Rs & 12 Ds)
  • 15 open seats (5 Rs & 10 Ds)
    • R seats open: Elkins, Rothenberger, Hoover, Turner, Stewart
    • D seats open: Rand, Stone, Meyer, Booker, Graviss, Keene, Sims, Howard, Adkins, Harris
  • 13 Representatives with a primary (4 Ds & 9 Rs):
    • 4 Democrats: Burch, C.Miller, Kulkarni, Westrom
    • 9 Republicans: Rudy, Webber, Lee, McCoy, Upchurch, Osborne, Brenda, Yates, R.Huff

The full list of candidate filings can be viewed HERE.

Legislative Calendar 

The Legislative Calendar for the session is available online, but here are a few dates to keep in mind under the current calendar:

  • February 21 – Last Day for Bill Requests
  • March 2  – Last Day to File House Bills
  • March 3 – Last Day to File Senate Bills
  • March 31 & April 1 – Concurrence Days
  • April 2 to 13  – Veto Recess
  • April 14 & 15 – Two Final Legislative Days with Sine Die Adjournment scheduled for April 15