Kentucky Political News Headlines

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

KY Legislative Update -- Day 51

Day 51 -- As Expected

The Kentucky General Assembly convened today for the purposes of finalizing action on the "budget" and the various affiliated bills. As was expected they did just that taking action on the bills below and only these bills, all of which are budget related:

HB 352 - The $11 billion Executive Branch budget for the Commonwealth, as was previously announced the Conference Committee, and now enacted version of HB 352, is a one year only budget appropriating monies solely for FY 2021. (FCCR/Enacted)
HB 351 - The statutorily mandated "revenue" bill that is required to pass alongside the budget to provide funding for HB 352. 
HB 353 - The Transportation Cabinet budget
HB 354 - The Biennial Highway Construction budget
HB 355 - The Legislative Branch budget
HB 356 - The Judicial Branch budget
HJR 66 - This is the document containing the projects for the four out years of the 6 year Road Plan.
SB 249 - A pension related bill that extended the freeze on local government and quasi-government entity employer contributions rates and extended other quasi-governmental entity pension reforms like opt-outs. This was necessary to pass as it impacted the funding in the budget.
HB 308 - This is the annual claims bill, that appropriates monies  to satisfy any claims against the state.

Social Distancing
In a first for the House, members were asked not to be present in Chambers and were allowed to vote via paper ballot, which they photographed and sent via text message to a designated member of House Leadership who recorded verbally the member's vote on the floor. Members were provided access to the budget documents electronically and the proceedings were live streamed, so that they could follow along in their legislative offices, homes, or even in their cars in the Capitol parking lot in a couple of instances. This was unique and spoke to the impact COVID-19 is having on the 2020 General Assembly session in more ways than just passing a 1-year budget, which hasn't been done in Regular Session in recent memory. The Senate did have their members spaced out and practiced social distancing, but did not adopt the remote voting procedures of the House.

Looking Ahead
With the budget behind them, legislative leaders now have to decide when they will return for the session's remaining days and whether they plan to address any gubernatorial vetoes and take action on the 20-30 bills that await action in the chambers at that time. When the House and Senate adjourned today for the veto recess they did so until April 13. This is a departure from the current legislative calendar that had legislators returning April 14 & 15 for the session's final two days. It is our understanding the legislature may use all three days April 13-15 for legislative action, but may cut that short if they can proceed quickly through the remaining bills.

As to their agenda when they return, legislative leaders made remarks on the floor and to members of the media that they intend to finish their business and preserve their right to override any vetoes when they return later this month.