The Kentucky General Assembly will resume the 2019 Legislative session Tuesday, Feb. 5 with the task of vetting hundreds of bills dealing with complex issues.
As I reported in early January, we got off to a rapid pace by approving five bills in four days.
Meanwhile at the other end of the Capitol, the House dealt with the debate over who won the election for the 13th district seat. Jim Glenn, an Owensboro Democrat, was declared the winner by one vote over D.J. Johnson, an Owensboro Republican. Glenn had held the seat from 2006 to 2017. Johnson held it for the last two years. On the first day of session, Glenn took his seat in the chambers. However, House Republicans, who maintain that they have the final authority to decide the results of the contested election, called for an investigation into the November election. House Democrats protested that the majority party could be maneuvering to change the outcome of the election or to steal the election and said that such action would set a bad precedent.
Republicans in the House have a 61-39 majority. Before adjourning, nine names were drawn from all 100 House members to form an election contest board to examine the results of the election and report its findings to the House. During the recess, the election contest board met and it was decided that the ballot boxes will be reopened, and a recount of the votes will take place.
Also during the break, several Senate and House members were hard at work as part of the Public Pensions Working Group, created by the co-chairs of the Legislative Research Commission. The bi-partisan group, of which I am a part, has been meeting every Tuesday and Thursday. Its charge is to review and analyze the state’s public pension systems and bring a recommendation to the General Assembly. Public input is encouraged and can be shared by e-mailing, Public.Pensions@lrc.ky.gov. The group has been listening to stakeholders and looking at the situation from different angles.
Following the school shooting at Marshall County High School, I was selected to be part of a 16-member, bi-partisan School Safety Working Group. During the interim, we traveled around the state and heard from the public, school officials, teachers and students, law enforcement, mental health officials, and others to determine how we could make our schools as safe as possible. Naturally, funding will play a significant role in the effectiveness of any action we take and we will deal with that during the 2020 budget session. This session, we will look at Senate Bill 1 – the School Safety and Resiliency Act. The bill will:
•improve training for school resource officers,
•provide more resource officers and mental health professionals,
•require training and response to active shooter situations,
•criminalize hoaxes and threats to school and make this behavior a crime (second-degree terroristic threatening),
•provide suicide prevention awareness information to students,
•provide suicide prevention training for staff, and
•create a statewide school security marshal to enforce school safety law and make annual school safety reports.
School safety will be a priority this session. And, we will most likely fix parts of the tax bill that was rushed through by Republican leaders last year. After the passage of the tax measure in 2018, nonprofit charities found they have to charge a sales tax on fund-raising events. I anticipate we will have a bill to change that. Though it is not a budget year, we might even vote on a way to pay for charter schools. However, I do not anticipate comprehensive tax reform.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law last year that opened the door for states to regulate and tax sports wagering, this issue has garnered support from both parties and may come up for a vote. Another topic that is generating interest is bail reform. The current system punishes the poor by keeping them in jail and their incarceration costs local governments millions. Criminal justice reform, medical marijuana, minimal wage, kinship care funding, and increasing the gas tax are a few more topics to keep your eye on during the session.
This is just a preview of some of the issues we may vet. There will be many other bills to come before us in committee and on the floor in the remaining 26 days.
You can follow along with the legislative action, review bill summaries, amendments and resolutions or keep up with committee meeting schedules and agendas at, lrc.ky.gov.
You can also leave feedback on issues for any legislator by calling, 800-372-7181, or get a bill status update at, 866-840-2835, or you can e-mail me at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Prepared by LRC Staff)