The 153rd regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly convened this week with more than 150 profiled bills awaiting consideration. With only 30 working days to accomplish so much, I’m proud to say the Kentucky Senate went right to work. We had a productive first week in Frankfort and leave in good spirits about what is to come this session.
This week, the Senate’s activity involved some procedural measures. We welcomed everyone back to Frankfort to swear in members and confirm the Senate Leadership. I was honored to be sworn in for another four-year-term and appreciate the support of so many who placed their faith and trust in me.
Following the tragic 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School, legislators formed the bipartisan School Safety Working Group for the purpose of developing a solution to better ensure the safety of our schools in Kentucky. Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act, sponsored by Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville), was drafted as a result of the findings of the working group. The Senate Majority is encouraged by the overwhelming support of this proposed legislation, and we look forward to continuing discussion with the House on how to address this critical issue.
The Senate was able to pass five bills out of chamber in the initial week of session. By the third day of the session, the first bill of the session was passed out of the chamber by a 31-4 vote. The measure, known as Senate Bill 5, is a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Constitution to move the elections of statewide constitutional offices to even-numbered years. Those would include the campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor of public accounts, attorney general, secretary of state, and commissioner of agriculture. Supporters said SB 5 would save about $15.5 million in taxpayer money, double voter turnout in down-ballot races, and simplify the election system by aligning Kentucky’s election cycle with presidential elections. Opponents say it’s an attempt to tie statewide candidates to national agendas. Even if the General Assembly passed SB 5 this session, the proposed constitutional amendment would not be placed on the ballot to be decided upon by the people until 2020. I spoke in favor of this bill and supported its passage.
Three bills were voted on Friday morning. Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) requires candidates to file all campaign finance reports electronically. This will allow quicker transparency of campaign donations. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson), relates to the reporting of prescriptions designed to induce an abortion. Information is currently gathered according to law as to the number of abortions that occur in Kentucky, but “chemical abortions” were not included. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Steve West (R-Paris), relates to the quality of teacher tribunal hearings by requiring the chair to be a trained attorney in teacher employment law. Lastly, we passed Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senator John Schickel (R-Union). This measure, also known as School Board Decision Making reform, redefines the minimum parent teacher representation on school councils and grants superintendents the ability to hire principals. I received support from multiple superintendents in favor of both Senate 3 and Senate Bill 8.
Due to a constitutional requirement, the General Assembly will adjourn for 3 weeks following the conclusion of the first part of session. The Senate will return to session on February 5. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss legislative issues in committee meetings.
Bill summaries, amendments, and resolutions, in addition to the next day’s committee meeting schedule and agendas, are updated daily on the Kentucky Legislature’s home page at www.lrc.ky.gov throughout the session, with final adjournment scheduled for March 29.