State Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, discusses a bill before the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary during the third week of the 2016 General Assembly in Frankfort.
Although week three of the General Assembly was short due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the inclement weather Friday, the Kentucky Senate welcomed visitors who braved the snow in Frankfort and passed significant bills. Two of those bills were Senate Bill (SB) 10 and SB 45.
Senate Bill 10 would move statewide constitutional elections to even-numbered years. While I do not take amending the Kentucky Constitution lightly, I believe that this change would have many benefits and I supported the bill as one of its cosponsors. Changing the election cycle for constitutional officers would save the Commonwealth and its counties an estimated $20 million per election cycle. Also, it will greatly increase voter turnout. Historically in Kentucky voter turnout in odd-numbered years’ election cycles has been significant lower than elections on even-numbered years. This bill passed the Senate 28-9.
Also on Tuesday, we passed SB 45, which creates transparency in the legislative retirement system. Under SB 45, current or former legislators’ pension plans are subject to open records requests that the other pension accounts endure. I believe that members of the legislative body should be subject to the same transparency and held to the same standard as non-legislative pension holders. When I ran for office I argued that transparency was important for our pension systems and I was happy to vote for this bill. I am pleased to report that it passed the Senate with unanimous support.
When lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they will get their first glimpse of newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal late on Tuesday.
Despite Kentucky’s improving economy that is providing much needed revenue growth for state coffers, state economists forecast the increased financial contributions for both the Kentucky retirement system and the teachers’ retirement system are likely to eat up that revenue growth. When adding in the further increased costs to the state for its financial responsibility under the Medicaid-eligibility expansion under the Affordable Care Act, the economists predict an austere budget for the coming biennium.
After the governor’s address to the joint session, the budget recommendations will be converted to bill form and introduced in the House. The bills are referred to the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee where they may be amended. The bills must be passed in the committee before it can be reported to the full House.
Once the bills are passed out of committee, they are given three readings on the floor of the House and then the full House votes on them. Budget bills require approval by a majority of the members elected to each chamber. When the budget bills are passed by a majority of the members of the House, they are sent to the Senate where they follow the same procedure.
Typically, the budget bills passed by each chamber are different. The differences must be worked out in a conference committee of senators and representatives. Compromises agreed to by conference committee members are then subject once again to approval by a majority of both members of each chamber – all before the last day of the session on April 12.
Thank you for taking the time to read this legislative update. If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Wil.Schroder@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.