The Kentucky Constitution authorizes the General Assembly to convene in odd numbered years for thirty (30) days and requires the session to end no later than March 30. The standard calendar for odd numbered years is for the legislature to meet for 4 days during the first week in January and then recess for several weeks to handle the administrative work required after the prior year’s general election where new members of the House and Senate were elected.
As I mentioned in a previous update, this year was unique in that due to the ramifications of the rash of executive orders issued during the ongoing pandemic, we met for eight (8) days in Part 1 of the session rather than the normal four (4). The Governor vetoed six (6) of the seven (7) bills that were passed during Part 1 while allowing one (1) to become law without his signature. The legislature is a co-equal branch of government and each member is duty bound to exercise its obligations to represent his or her constituents. With that in mind, I voted to override all of his vetoes and the General Assembly did in fact override all of them.
Senate Bill 9 mandates that healthcare providers give medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life-sustaining medical care and treatment to all born-alive infants even if born alive after a failed abortion. This is the bill that the Governor allowed to become law without signing.
It is not a surprise, but within minutes of our vote to override his vetoes, the Governor filed suit challenging three (3) of the bills; House Bill 1 and Senate Bills 1 and 2. Unsurprising, yes, but nevertheless very disappointing.
House Bill 1 provides direction to help businesses, schools, nonprofits, and other organizations remain safely open throughout the rest of this pandemic and gives employers some relief in making their unemployment insurance payments. The measure also includes a provision that ensures visitation opportunities for those in long-term care and children in state custody.
Senate Bill 1 balances the need for Kentucky to act quickly in an emergency by ensuring that a governor does not overstep his or her authority and attempt to legislate through executive orders.
Senate Bill 2 prevents the executive branch, including unelected appointees, from using the regulatory process to make laws.
To date, the Governor has not filed suit against House Bills 2, 3, or 5.
House Bill 2 gives the Attorney General authority to regulate abortion.
House Bill 3 allows Kentuckians who file suit against state government or a state elected official to do so in the county of their residence.
House Bill 5 requires executive branch reorganizations and board reorganizations to be approved by the General Assembly
In other action, the full House considered House Bill 10 (HB-10) and House Bill 258 (HB-258). HB-10 provides certain liability protections from a lawsuit by someone who claims to have contracted Covid-19 at a business if that business has implemented Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that were in existence at the time of the alleged incident.
HB-10 also provides qualified immunity from prosecution for a public school official’s decision to open or close a school due to the uncertain environment created by COVID-19. I voted Yes and HB-10 has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.
As has been noted numerous times in the past , Kentucky’s public sector pensions and the associated funding are in serious trouble and the General Assembly has been grappling with the issues for a number of years. In an effort aimed at beginning to address a portion of it, a working group of Representatives was formed to take a look at new teacher pensions. This group met at least monthly since the end of the General Assembly’s 2020 session and solicited input from all appropriate teacher organizations. HB-258 is the result of those meetings.
HB-258 is a plan for new Teachers Retirement System (TRS) members entering the system on or after January 1, 2022. It provides new members with a hybrid plan that includes a traditional defined benefit plan, known as the foundational benefit, and a smaller savings account, known as the supplemental benefit. Both would be managed by the TRS. The plan has a minimum retirement age of 55 with incentives to work longer and retire later. The plan is designed to provide a 70% income replacement at age 55 with 30 years of service which is similar to the current TRS plan. I voted Yes, HB-258 passed the full House and has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.
As always, thank you for reading my updates and thank you for contacting me with your concerns and thoughtful suggestions. It is a privilege to represent you in the Kentucky House of Representatives and your input helps me make decisions that best represent the views of the Fourth District. I may be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 800- 372- 7181, directly at 502- 564- 8100, by visiting the Kentucky Legislature Home page at legislature.ky.gov and clicking on the Legislature button and then the contact a member link, or by mail to the Capitol Annex — Frankfort, KY 40601.