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December 30, 2019 4:07pm

What you need to know for the 2020 legislative sessions in Frankfort & Indy

With the new year just around the corner, Kentucky and Indiana lawmakers will be heading back to their respective state capitals for the 2020 legislative sessions. 2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in politics and public policy. More than ever, it will be critical for business and civic leaders from the greater Louisville region to be as fully engaged as possible with Frankfort and Indianapolis. Start out the new year by getting up to speed on everything you need to know about the 2020 Kentucky and Indiana legislative sessions—and don’t forget to read GLI’s 2020 State Legislative Agenda

#KYGA20: Kentucky General Assembly 2020 Session

Key Dates

  • January 7: Session begins
  • January 10: Filing deadline for the primary election on May 19, 2020
    • All 100 members of the House of Representatives
    • Half of the Senate 
  • February 11: GLI’s Advocacy Day in Frankfort (keep an eye out for more information on this event!)
  • April 2: Projected start for the 10-day veto recess in which the General Assembly gives the governor time to veto bills and retains the ability to override his veto when they reconvene for the final days of session
  • April 15: Sine Die (last day of session)

Partisan Breakdown

  • House of Representatives
    • Democrats: 37
    • Republicans: 61
    • Vacancies: 2
  • Senate
    • Democrats: 9
    • Republicans: 28
    • Vacancies: 1 (Note: Republican Mike Nemes recently won election to Senate District 38.)

Major Issues

  • 2020-2022 Budget: The 2020 session is a 60-day session, much of which legislators will devote to crafting a biennial budget. The 2020-2022 budget is expected to be difficult. Analysts have projected a shortfall in the ballpark of about $1 billion over the next two years. Legislators will need to address the shortfall as well as a host of other needs such as pensions, Medicaid funding, and education.  
  • Education: As with previous sessions, education will be a major focal point in 2020. Key education topics will likely include expanded access to early childhood education, a tuition tax credit program, a salary increase for teachers, and additional funding for K-12 and higher education.
  • Infrastructure Funding: Along with crafting a biennial budget, lawmakers will need to establish a road plan in 2020 for highway and other infrastructure projects. In addition, a proposal to modernize infrastructure funding will likely be up for consideration. This will include an increase to the state gas tax and other transportation-related fees as well as reforms to how the General Assembly allocates gas tax revenues to localities. 
  • Tax Reform: The General Assembly may continue down the path of incremental tax reform in 2020 by building on the pro-growth changes to the tax code it implemented in 2018 and 2019. But other major tax issues are on the horizon as well, such as reforms to city and county government taxation and authorizing and taxing sports wagering.
  • Criminal Justice Reform: Discussions on how to move forward with reforming Kentucky’s criminal justice system and reducing incarceration and recidivism rates will likely continue in 2020. Top issues in this arena will include expungement, probation and parole procedures, and reforms to the Commonwealth’s cash-bail system.

What else do I need to know? 

  • Politics: After three years of a Republican trifecta – GOP control of both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office – 2020 ushers in a return to divided government. Kentucky has a new Democratic governor, while Republicans retain supermajorities in the House and Senate. Though divided government is a familiar theme in Kentucky politics, the dynamics of the legislature and Governor Andy Beshear’s administration remain unknown. Important to keep in mind: the Kentucky governor’s office holds numerous powers that shape policy in the state – through appointments and executive orders, for example – but the Commonwealth is also a majority veto state, meaning the General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities, need a simple majority to overturn a gubernatorial veto. 
  • Elections: 2020 will conclude a three-year cycle of elections in Kentucky (2018, 2019, and 2020) with all 100 seats in the House and half the Senate up for election. One major change this year is a moved-up filing deadline for the primary election. The filing deadline previously fell on the last Tuesday of January, which tended to delay major activity in the legislature as lawmakers waited to see if they would face a primary challenger in the Spring. Because of legislation passed in 2019, the filing deadline will be the first Friday following the first Monday in January (January 10, 2020). This could have the effect of a more active January than previous even-year sessions. 

#INLEG20: Indiana Legislature 2020 Session

Key Dates

  • January 6: Session begins
  • February 7: Filing deadline for the primary election on May 5, 2020
    • All 100 members of the House of Representatives
    • Half of the Senate 
  • March 11: Anticipated Sine Die (last day of session)
  • March 14: Last day for Sine Die 

Partisan Breakdown

  • House of Representatives
    • Democrats: 33
    • Republicans: 67
  • Senate
    • Democrats: 10
    • Republicans:40

Major Issues

  • Indiana’s legislative cycle runs opposite to Kentucky’s, with long budget sessions in odd years and short sessions in even years. This means that while Kentucky lawmakers will be crafting a biennial budget in 2020, Hoosier lawmakers will be more focused (though not entirely) on non-budgetary items. Major issues are expected to include education (for example, teacher compensation), healthcare, marijuana-related legislation, and public safety. Governor Eric Holcomb announced his legislative priorities for the 2020 session earlier in December. Among his top initiatives is support for legislation outlining reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. GLI championed pregnant workers legislation in Kentucky in 2019 and will be working actively to pass similar legislation in Indiana in 2020. 

What else do I need to know?

  • Legislative Leadership Change: 2020 will mark the end of Representative Brian Bosma’s tenure as House Speaker. Speaker Bosma has held the position since 2011 and previously served as Speaker from 2004 to 2006. He announced his retirement in November. He will serve through the end of the 2020 session. In December, it was announced that the majority caucus had selected Representative Todd Huston of Fishers to succeed Bosma at the end of the 2020 session. 
  • Elections: Indiana will hold elections for the General Assembly and the Governor’s office in 2020. Governor Eric Holcomb will be running for a second term. In 2016, he won election by six points. Republicans have held the Indiana governorship since 2005.