Sunday, December 12, 2021
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
The 22nd Senate District seat, previously held by the late Tom Buford, includes Garrard, Jessamine, Mercer, and Washington counties and part of Fayette County. Dr. Donald Douglas (R), Senator-elect, is the lead medical doctor at the Tony Delk IMAC Regeneration Center. Senator-elect Douglas won the district with approximately 72% of the vote.
The 51st House District seat, previously held by the late Bam Carney, includes all of Taylor and Adair Counties. Representative-elect Michael "Sarge" Pollock (R) is an insurance advisor. He won the district with approximately 74% of the vote.
The 89th House District seat, previously held by Robert Goforth, includes all of Jackson County and parts of Laurel and Madison Counties. Representative-elect Timmy Truett (R) is the principal of McKee Elementary School and owner of Truett's Pumpkin Patch in Jackson County. He won the district with 72% of the vote.
With Republicans holding all three seats, there are no changes to the makeup of either chamber. The Senate maintains a 30-8 Republican majority and the House maintains a 75-25 Republican majority.
All 100 State House seats and half of the State Senate Seats will be on the ballot in 2022. We'll have more information on next year's elections and the impact of redistricting in future updates.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Special Session - Sine Die Update
The General Assembly completed their work tonight for the 2021 Special Legislative Session and have adjourned Sine Die. But not before sending the Governor four bills, two of which he signed and two that he vetoed. Subsequently, the General Assembly voted to override those vetoes bringing all four bills into law.
Thus, this third and final day of the 2021 Special Session was, as expected, busy and chaotic. As anticipated, the General Assembly used procedural strategy to shorten the normal 5-days required to pass a bill down to three days speeding up the session. Ultimately, the following proposals became law:
EDUCATION: Senate Bill 1/House Bill 1 received much debate in both the House and the Senate. These bills nullify regulations mandating masks by the KY Department of Education and provide instruction flexibility to school districts. Some legislators felt the bill did not go far enough in giving flexibility to schools, while others felt it went too far by allowing for mask mandates on the local level. Several amendments to try and both broaden and shrink the parameters of the bill were filed, but ultimately none were adopted. Senate Bill 1, was the vehicle passed by the Senate 28-8 and the House 70-25. Vetoed by Governor & Overridden by Senate 22-6 & House 69-24 - September 9
HEALTHCARE: Senate Bill 2/House Bill 2 were also hotly contested. These identical bills do away with emergency regulations filed by the administration related to masking and provide assistance to healthcare organizations for testing and treating COVID. None of the floor amendments, many of which could have impacted employer's rights, were not adopted. Senate Bill 2 was the vehicle passed by the Senate 26-10 and the House 69-24. Vetoed by Governor & Overridden by Senate 23-5 & House 69-22 - September 9
APPROPRIATIONS: Senate Bill 3/House Bill 3 appropriates $69 million in ARPA funding to relieve pressures in healthcare, long term care, and education systems. They also provide more funding for COVID testing, monoclonal antibody treatment, and "test and stay" COVID testing for schools. One of the least controversial measures during this special session, the Senate bill passed without amendments in the Senate 36-0 and the House 84-8. Signed by Governor - September 9
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES (Senate Bill 5/House Bill 5): These bills appropriate $410 million from the budget reserve trust fund to finance KEDFA forgivable loans and training grants for companies investing more than $2 billion in Kentucky. The language allows the state to provide incentives on the front end, to compete with states that are able to provide cash incentives. According to legislators there have been discussions involving specific companies for this incentive, but any company investing over $2 billion would qualify. Senate Bill 5 passed without amendment in the Senate 30-3 and the House 91-2. Signed by Governor - September 9
EMERGENCY ORDERS: House Joint Resolution 1, likely the most important piece of legislation to come from the special session, passed the General Assembly and was sent to the governor for his signature on Tuesday, the first day of the special session. HJR 1 extends many of the Governor's COVID executive orders through January 15. HJR includes the extension of liability protections for employers, passed earlier this year as SB 5. Other issues addressed include the extension of a state of emergency order for Nicholas County due to flooding. Signed by Governor - Tuesday, September 7
Also considered today, but not receiving final passage was Senate Joint Resolution 3 sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, which recognized a positive COVID-19 antibody test as equivalent to having been vaccinated against COVID-19. The resolution was filed on Tuesday and passed from committee and the full Senate by a vote of 26-10, but was never acted upon in the House.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Special Session Update - Day 2
The second day of the special legislative session began with the Senate and the House briefly gaveling in before adjourning for the day. Today's action focused on committee meetings as the General Assembly moved bills quickly through the legislative process. The General Assembly hopes to conclude their business tomorrow, recessing for the veto period while Governor Beshear considers any vetoes.
We have summarized the bills below, but first a quick note on the political dynamics. The emotional undercurrents of the COVID issue are impacting the session as members are hearing from their constituents about masks, vaccines, and local control. Their constituents' vitriol has been reflected in votes and in speeches before committees and on the floor. It doesn't appear that there will be enough fissures to derail any of the bills, though it got close on House Bill 1 in the House Education Committee today.
EDUCATION (SB 1 & HB 1): The House & Senate Education Committee passed a modified version of the filed bills. Section 7 of the bill, which encouraged vaccine incentives in the school system, was completely removed. Changes were also made to Sections 10 and 11 regarding the Teacher Retirement System due to potential legal issues with the originally proposed language. The bill passed the Senate Committee easily, but the House Committee failed to pass the bill in its first attempt by one vote. The House committee reconvened this afternoon and the bill was passed by a 3-vote margin, though members still expressed concerns about the bill. The floor debate on these bills should be interesting as multiple amendments have been filed.
HEALTHCARE & HEALTHCARE FACILITIES (SB 2 & HB 2): Senate Bill 2 removes the ability to implement a statewide mask mandate, encourages public health, vaccine, and monoclonal antibody treatment campaigns on a local level, and outlines methods to allow visitors in long-term care facilities. Senate Bill 2 passed committee today but had some slightly different language on the monoclonal antibody treatment than House Bill 2, which passed the committee on Tuesday. Thus HB 2 was recommitted and will be before the House Health & Welfare Committee tomorrow morning. Senate Bill 2, along with its House counterpart House Bill 2, saw several amendments filed for consideration tomorrow that many consider to be threatening to employer rights. Specifically:
SFA 5 to SB2: Would make mandating a COVID-19 vaccine or proof of vaccine a violation of the Civil Rights Act
SFA 6 to SB2: Would prevent a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers; would set certain rules to ensure any "mandate" follows set steps for allowing broad exemptions from any vaccine.
SFA 7 to SB2: Any employer that receives state funds cannot mandate a COVID-19 vaccine.
ARPA APPROPRIATIONS (SB 3 & HB 3): The House & Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committees favorably considered Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 3 respectively today. These bills appropriate funding to battle COVID-19, especially in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and schools. No committee amendments were adopted, but floor amendments have been filed including House Floor Amendment 1 (HFA1) to HB 3 would prevent any employer that receives state resources from mandating a COVID-19 vaccine.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES (SB 5 & HB 5): These bills appropriate $350 million from the budget reserve trust fund to KEDFA to finance forgivable loans for companies investing more than $2 billion in Kentucky. The language allows the state to provide incentives on the front end, so Kentucky can compete with states that are able to provide cash incentives. The bills also include language to appropriate training funds to KCTCS for onsite employee training for companies locating in Kentucky above that $2B threshold, as well as other training grant opportunities. According to legislators there have been discussions involving specific companies for this incentive, but any company investing over the $2 billion mark would qualify. Both bills passed their respective committee unanimously.
LEGISLATOR COMPENSATION (SB 4 & HB 4): The Senate passed SB 4 out of committee yesterday; the House has yet to pass the bill out of its State Government Committee. The bill would prevent legislators from receiving legislative pay on necessary veto days during a special session. It is estimated to cost the Commonwealth $72,000 a day to hold a special session.
As we noted yesterday, two other bills were filed: Senate Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7. These bills are very similar to Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3, respectively. They are not expected to move forward at this point.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Special Session - Day 1 Update
The Kentucky General Assembly convened this morning for the first day of the special session. Governor Beshear and legislative leaders worked over the past few weeks to reach agreement on the agenda for the special session. It's expected that the session will conclude by week's end, as legislative leaders have indicated they hope to finish the business at hand on Thursday.
Both the House and the Senate filed the same legislation focusing on these issues. There is a procedural strategy behind this action - a bill is required to be given three readings in each chamber on separate days unless those readings are procedurally dispensed with. In order to avoid using the procedural process, the General Assembly believes simultaneously passing these identical bills through the legislative process at the same time in each chamber fulfills their duties in the legislative process and thus allowing them to conclude their business on Thursday.
House Joint Resolution 1 - Final Passage
The most noteworthy action today was the introduction and final passage of HJR 1, sponsored by Speaker Osborne. HJR 1 extends many of the Governor's COVID executive orders through January 15. HJR includes the extension of liability protections for employers, passed earlier this year as SB 5. Other issues addressed include the extension of a state of emergency order for Nicholas County due to flooding. Certain procedural rules were waived so that the resolution could pass both chambers and be delivered to the Governor's desk for consideration today. It is expected he will sign HJR 1 this evening.
Other Bill Introductions and Actions
EDUCATION: SB 1 & HB 1 - Nullifies regulations mandating masks by the KY Department of Education and provides instruction flexibility to school districts. SB 1 passed the Senate Education Committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills from members of both parties.
HEALTHCARE & FACILITIES: SB 2 & HB 2 - Does away with emergency regulations filed by the administration related to masking and provides assistance to healthcare organizations testing for and treating COVID. HB 2 passed the House Health and Family Services committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills.
AARPA APPROPRIATION: SB 3 & HB 3 - Appropriates funding to relieve pressures in healthcare, long term care, and education systems. Provides more funding for COVID testing, monoclonal antibody treatment, and "test and stay" COVID testing for schools; it also reduces ARPA funding to the Unemployment Services beginning in FY 22. SB 3 will be heard tomorrow in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Multiple floor amendments were filed to both bills.
SB 6 - Very similar to SB 2, SB 6 provides healthcare-related COVID-19 measures including allowing all visitors in long-term care facilities, establishing COVID-19 antibody treatment centers, and creating incentives for vaccine promotion in healthcare settings
SB 7 - Very similar to SB 3, SB 7 appropriates funding to assist with COVID pressures throughout the healthcare, long term care, and education systems. It also cuts the appropriated ARPA funding to the Unemployment Services.
Tomorrow the Senate convenes at 9am and the House convenes at 10. Various House and Senate legislative committees will be meeting to continue moving the bills that were introduced today. You can watch all the legislative proceedings live on the KET-KY channel, or online on KET or the LRC's YouTube channel.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Interim Session Set to Begin
Legislators will return to Frankfort on June 1 as the Interim Session of the Kentucky General Assembly gets underway. A quick refresher on the Interim Session:
Committees meet jointly as House and Senate legislative committees combine to create the Interim Joint Committees.
These committees will meet monthly to discuss issues that will be considered during the next session and to receive updates on issues from the past session.
No votes are taken. The Interim is a time for taking testimony, studying issues, and forging compromises in advance of the next legislative session.
Schedule & Monitoring
The Legislative Research Commission published the Interim schedule for the remainder of the year and the full calendar can be found here. Access to the Capitol and Capitol Annex remains restricted, so the majority of these legislative meetings will be livestreamed on KET or the LRC's YouTube channel. We will be monitoring the meetings and providing updates on issues of interest.
The long-term impacts of COVID-19 will continue to dominate the policy discussion this summer. We expect legislative discussions around the impact on COVID to run the gambit from K-12 learning loss to the allocation of Kentucky's remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The focus of the 2022 Legislative Session will be the biennial budget for FY23 and FY24, but the redistricting of legislative seats based on the new census data will also play a major role in the tone of the 2022 Session. Due to the timing of the census data release and the reliance on that data to create the new legislative districts, the candidate filing deadline—usually the first week of January—could be impacted. We expect to learn more as that deadline nears.
Even with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across the state, the Legislative Research Commission is likely to continue enforcing restricted access into the Capitol Annex. This means in-person access to legislative committees will be limited to legislators and those testifying in committees, and all legislator visits must be scheduled and approved ahead of time to gain access to the building.
The Government Strategies team will continue providing you updates on items of interest discussed by the Interim committees, relevant political news, and general updates as the legislative focus shifts to preparing for the 2022 Session. Even with limited access to the Capitol and Annex, we anticipate a surge of activity as legislative activity and lobbying returns to normal.
We Are On Twitter
In addition to our regular email updates, we are excited to announce our new Twitter account to help us with real-time news distribution, sharing updates and happenings from our clients, and keeping up with all-things Kentucky Legislature. Follow us at @GovStrategiesKY and stay tuned as we develop this new communication outlet.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
JENA SCOTT JOINS GOVERNMENT STRATEGIES
Scott brings wide range of experience in communications, public policy, and political strategy
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 13, 2021) - Government Strategies today announced that Jena Scott has joined the firm to lead its client and external communications and provide support to the firm's direct lobbying and advocacy PR practices.
Government Strategies is a full-service government relations firm with decades of experience. The firm helps clients meet their government affairs goals by blending key relationships with tools such as advocacy communications, grassroots network development, association and coalition management, bill analysis and drafting. Government Strategies' business model focuses on merging these skills to develop long-term relationships with clients and provide winning results.
"We are absolutely thrilled to have Jena join Government Strategies," said Rachel Bayens, a Government Strategies partner. "She has significant and unique experience in communications and public policy strategy in Kentucky and will be an outstanding addition to our team."
Scott most recently served as the Communications Manager for the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers. She has a diverse professional background with a wide range of experience in communications, public policy, and political strategy. She previously held the Deputy Communications Director role for the Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus.
"I am honored to join the team at Government Strategies," said Scott. "Their commitment to results and tireless advocacy for their clients is unparalleled. I look forward to complimenting their client services with my knowledge of advocacy communications, the state legislative process, and the needs of Kentucky's largest industries."
Scott's focus will be on client communications, legislative activity, grassroots networking, and public relations.
Government Strategies was founded in 1999 and has directed the government relations strategy for some of Kentucky's largest corporations and most influential trade associations.
For more information about Government Strategies, please visit www.govplan.com.
Other members of Government Strategies pictured below:
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.