Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Before adjourning tonight the legislature brought final passage to several bills, most notably:
HB 563 - School Choice - Creates education opportunity accounts that can be used to pay for a list of academic expenses including out of district tuition and private school tuition as well as creating a tax credit for charitable contributions into these accounts
HB 320 - Broadband - A measure to appropriate $250 million of federal funding for broadband deployment and to allow electric distribution cooperatives to capitalize broadband deployment was passed unanimously through the House and Senate after a Senate committee substitute was adopted.
HB 413 - Unemployment Insurance - Legislation to freeze the employer tax rate, suspend the employer surcharge, and other changes that will address increasing employer costs due to COVID-19.
HB 249 - The "revenue" bill that moves alongside the budget that contains several tax administration and compliance changes along with tax policy changes.
HB 126 - A bill to increase Kentucky's felony theft threshold to update for inflation and provide some minimal criminal justice reform
HB 372 - Legislation that provides a sales and use tax exemption for data centers passed with an amendment that allows for a remote worker tax credit.
HB 405 - A supplemental appropriations bill that contains KSP salary changes, AG staffing increases, a $2 increase in Childcare Assistance Program amongst others.
Please note that many bills that were passed with changes tonight have not yet been made publicly available. We will review and update you in our weekly report later this week.
Monday, January 4, 2021
2021 Session Preview
The Kentucky General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, for its odd-year, thirty-day, short session, and is currently scheduled to meet four legislative days until January 8 when it will recess before reconvening on February 2 for the remaining 26 legislative days. Sine die adjournment is currently scheduled for March 30.
While it is customary for the first four legislative days of the short session to be chiefly focused on organizational matters such as the formal election of leaders in each chamber and designation of committee chairs and committee assignments, 2021 may be an exception. It is possible that legislation can move during the first week as happened in 2017. If legislation is considered during the first week, the legislature would need to meet at least until Saturday, the 9th of January for a bill or bills to pass both chambers and could extend into the following week.
Leadership & Partisan Makeup
The partisan makeup of both the House and Senate remain overwhelmingly Republican with the GOP holding supermajorities in both chambers. The November elections saw the Republican majority swell to 75-25 in the House and to 30 to 8 in the Senate.
Constitutional legislative leadership elections will not be formalized until each chamber takes floor action on the first day of the session, however these elections took place in Majority caucus action in December when the following leaders were elected:
Senate President Robert Stivers
Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
House Speaker David Osborne
House Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade
The election of partisan officers by the respective Majority and Minority caucus in each chamber has also been completed and is as follows:
Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer
Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams
Majority Whip Mike Wilson
Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey
Minority Caucus Chair Reggie Thomas
Minority Whip Dennis Parrett
Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy
Majority Caucus Chair Susan Miles
Majority Whip Chad McCoy
Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins
Minority Caucus Chair Derrick Graham
Minority Whip Angie Hatton
Committee rosters have not been officially announced yet and won't be formalized until the session begins next week. An unofficial copy of the House committee rosters is available HERE. Committee Chairs have been announced in the House & Senate, here are the changes from last session:
Sen. Robby Mills - State & Local Government
Sen. Wil Schroder - Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor
Sen. C.B. Embry - Veterans & Military Affairs
Rep. Jason Petrie - Appropriations & Revenue
Rep. Ed Massey - Judiciary
Rep. Kim King - Tourism & Recreation
Given the overwhelming Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and a Democratic governor, vigorous debate is expected as both parties promote their priorities. As is mentioned below, legislative efforts to limit the Governor's authority could set the tone for how the legislature and Governor will work together during this session.
The Governor is the only Democrat voice in statewide offices and Democrats will be challenged to remain relevant in the 2021 debate. Governor Beshear will deliver a State of the Commonwealth address on January 6 at 7pm, when he will outline his priorities and budget proposal. However, given the GOP supermajorities, they will be able to largely craft their own agenda and budget.
While there are certainly worse problems to have, the magnitude of the GOP's success may prove to be a somewhat mixed blessing as leadership seeks to keep the large caucus contented and avoid factionalism. Moreover, the 2023 gubernatorial election is just over the horizon with a deep bench of prospective Republican candidates who will be positioning themselves for a run for the nomination.
The 2020 session of the General Assembly ended under extraordinary circumstances and unprecedented processes with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. The 2021 session will begin and operate under extraordinary circumstances and unusual processes as the pandemic continues.
Access by the public to the Capitol Annex and the Capitol will be severely restricted and limited to those testifying on legislation or by appointments with legislators. It is expected that committee meetings will continue to take place virtually and that the logistics of those virtual hearings will shorten the amount of time that committees will be able to meet. This will likely impact the amount of legislation that can be considered and further we anticipate that the volume and the flow of legislation to be restricted by leadership in each chamber. The Senate has gone as far as removing a chamber rule that forces bills to be referred to committees.
Floor action will also be impacted by COVID restrictions this session. In the House, it is expected that many members will watch floor proceedings from their offices and vote remotely. The Senate plans to meet in Chamber but with modifications to enable social distancing.
The pandemic will also shape many of the issues that will be the focus of legislators' attention in 2021.
First and foremost is the adoption of a budget for FY 2022, since the 2020 General Assembly deferred a biennial budget because of the economic uncertainty of the times. Revenue estimates for the current fiscal year and Fiscal Year 2022 are more positive than anticipated with an estimated surplus in the General Fund of $126M in FY 21 and $53M in FY 22. The Road Fund also includes better than expected projections with a surplus of $34M and $16M, respectively.
When Governor Beshear introduces his proposed budget on the 6th, it will be much earlier than in a normal budget session. This is because the General Assembly has only thirty days to complete this work, and the process is being expedited.
COVID Related Priority Issues
The Legislature is likely to consider the following COVID related issues:
- Executive Authority - Majority parties in both Chambers have indicated that they will pass limitations on a Governor's authority during times of emergency. Bills have been prefiled in the House and Senate, but efforts are underway on consensus legislation that could be acted on very quickly, potentially during the first week.
- Education - The effects of the pandemic on schools in increased expenses and the effects of long-term closure with reliance on virtual learning will be considered.
- Liability Relief – Legislators plan to enact limitations on civil liability resulting from Covid 19 litigation. Leaders have said over the past several months that providing liability relief to employers, churches, schools and healthcare facilities is a priority.
- Unemployment Insurance – Efforts will be made to look at changes to limit rate increases on employers and stabilize the trust fund.
- Broadband - The pandemic has highlighted the need for better broadband connectivity particularly in rural areas. This may be an area where there is less partisan strife as leaders in both parties and the Governor have discussed the need for investment in broadband.
Other issues will come from unfinished business from the 2020 session. Infrastructure needs and the consideration of an increase in revenue in the Road Fund have been before the legislature for several sessions and will be discussed again in the 2021 session. Various aspects of criminal justice reform and substance abuse treatment have been the subject of interim study and will be before the General Assembly along with law enforcement reforms. Other issues that could be addressed in this short session include telehealth reforms, the Kentucky Supreme Court decision on historical horse racing, and workforce issues.
You can access lists of prefiled bills by subject area via links below:
The Legislative Calendar for the 2021 session is available online, but here are a few dates to keep in mind under the current calendar:
January 5 - Session Convenes
January 5-8 - Part I. Organizational Session - Swearing in of new members, formally electing leadership, naming committee chairs, and setting committee rosters
January 11-February 1 - Recess - Some committees will meet, but they don't normally take any action
February 2 – Part II, Regular Session Convenes
February- 5 - Last day for Bill requests
February 12 - Last Day for new Senate bills
February 16 - Last Day for new House bills
March 15 & 16 – Concurrence Days
March 17 -30 -- Veto Recess
March 30 - Final Legislative Day and Sine Die Adjournment.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Below is a summary of the results, as of this evening. It is important to note that due to the additional absentee balloting procedures put in place for this election, official results may be delayed for several days. So the results we are sharing are based on unofficial results available as of this writing.
KY Election Results
Republicans had overwhelming victories this evening in Kentucky. President Trump carried the state and US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell easily defeated challenger Amy McGrath. Republicans also had a big night in state legislative races reaching a record number in the House and Senate Majorities. Support at the top of the ticket clearly carried down the ballot and impacted state legislative races.
State Senate 19 of the 38 seats were up this cycle - New Margin: 30-8 in favor of GOP. Senate Republicans appear to have picked up 2 seats as of this writing. The Turner vs Turner battle has Democrat incumbent and member of the minority leadership team, Sen. Johnny Ray Turner down 2000 votes with 96% of the vote counted.
District 7 - Southworth (Open-Carroll)
District 29 - Johnnie Turner (R) leads Johnny Ray Turner (D - incumbent)*
Other New Faces
District 1 - Howell (R-Murray from Humphries)
District 21 - Storm (R-London from Robinson)
District 26 - Berg (D-Oldham from Harris in special election in June)
District 37 - Yates (D-Louisville from P.Clark)
State House - All 100 members were up this cycle - New Margin: Appears to be 75-25 in favor of GOP, but one race has incomplete results, so it could be as low as 74-26. Regardless, a big night for the House Republicans picking up 12 or 13 seats. It will be a big Freshman class with possibly 22 new members.
District 10 - Calloway(R) leads incumbent Schamore (D) by nearly 1000 votes with 94% of votes counted
District 11 - Dixon (Wiederstein)
District 13 - Johnson (Glenn)
District 22 - McPherson (Open-Stone)
District 39 - Lockett (Open-Meyer)
District 47 - Rabourn (Open-Rand)
District 48 - Fleming (Sorolis)
District 56 - Fister - (Open-Graviss)
District 70 - Lawrence - (Open-Sims)
District 91 - Wesley - (Open-Howard)
District 93 - Kirk-McCormick (Open-Harris)
District 96 - Flannery (Hinkle)
District 100 - Sharp - (Clark)
Other New Faces
District 5 - Imes (R-Murray Open-Elkins)
District 43 - Stevenson (D-Louisville Open Booker)
District 45 - Timoney - (R-Lexington Open Lee)
District 58 - Decker (R-Shelbyville Open Rothenburger)
District 71 - Bray (R-Mt.Vernon from Travis),
District 73 - Dotson (R-Winchester from Yates)
District 83 - Branscum (R-Jamestown from Hoover)
District 85 - Baker (R-Somerset from Turner)
District 86 - Smith (R-Corbin from Stewart)
In addition to Senator McConnell winning his 7th term in the U.S. Senate, all of Kentucky's incumbent U.S. House members were victorious.
1st District - Comer defeats Rhodes
2nd District - Guthrie defeats Linderman
3rd District - Yarmuth defeats Palazzo
4th District - Massie defeats Owensby
5th District - Rogers defeats Best
6th District - Barr defeats Hicks
State Supreme Court
There was one Supreme Court seat up for election in the 7th District in the Eastern part of the state. The incumbent was defeated in the primary, having come in 3rd in a three way race. Tonight Greenup County Circuit Judge Robert Conley appears to have defeated former State Rep. Chris Harris by a 55-45 vote margin with 93% of the votes counted.
There were two proposed amendments to Kentucky's Constitution on the ballot.
Constitutional Amendment #1 - Marsy's Law, which passed two years ago but was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court due to vague ballot language has been passed by the voters of Kentucky for the second time, following this evening's results.
Constitutional Amendment #2 - A ballot initiative to increase office terms for Kentucky's district judges as well as increase years of experience required for those judicial positions. Constitutional Amendment #2 was not approved by voters and failed.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Results from last Tuesday's primary election were released this afternoon. You will recall that results were delayed due to the decision to allow mail-in ballots, which were required to be postmarked by election day, because of precautions against COVID-19.
The Democratic primary for US Senate came down to the wire with Amy McGrath pulling out a victory over Rep. Charles Booker with 45.1% compared to Booker's 43%. McGrath will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.
State Legislative Elections
Additionally, there were a handful of close legislative races with unknown outcomes until final vote counts were submitted to the Board of Elections this afternoon. Several incumbent legislators were defeated and for the first time in roughly 10 years a Democrat won a seat which had been held by a Republican in the state Senate. Karen Berg defeated Bill Ferko in the special election called to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Ernie Harris. Other state legislative results of interest:
Incumbents Beaten in Primary
- Sen. Albert Robinson was beaten by Brandon Storm, an attorney from London, in a three way race. Storm faces Walter Trebolo in November.
- Rep. Travis Brenda lost by less than 100 votes to Josh Bray, a City Administrator. Bray has no opponent in November.
- Rep. Les Yates was beaten by Ryan Dotson, a local pastor in the GOP primary. Dotson faces Kenny Blair who won the Democrat primary.
New State Legislators & Re-Elected Legislators
These folks were elected to new terms in the General Assembly joining the 28 legislators unopposed this election cycle that don't have a general election opponent in November. *Incumbents in Italics
Incumbent Justice Sam Wright won't be returning to the Supreme Court in 2021, as he ran third in the primary for the 7th District Supreme Court seat, and only the top two vote getters move on to the general election in November. It will be Robert Conley vs Chris Harris in November.
Attached is an updated spreadsheet denoting House and Senate primary winners. More analysis to come in the days ahead.