A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky lawmakers have 170 bills waiting as General Assembly convenes in Frankfort

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Kentucky General Assembly convenes Tuesday at noon in their chambers at the State Capitol for a 30-legislative day session.

While shoring up the state’s public pension systems, adjustments to last year’s tax reform legislation and school safety are among legislative leaders’ top priorities, around 170 bills have already been prepared for filing when the 2019 session begins.

A proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Meredith, R- Leitchfield, would abolish the office of lieutenant governor and place the Senate President and House Speaker in the line of succession, should a Governor be unable to serve.

Lawmakers in both chambers get to work Tuesday at noon for the 2019 General Assembly, a 30-day session. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

If approved by voters, this would take effect for the 2023 election. The lieutenant governor presided over the State Senate until a constitutional amendment adopted in 1992 eliminated that duty, leaving little in the way of responsibilities.

Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, who is also a retired Kentucky State Police major, has a bail reform measure that would eliminate financial bail, except to ensure a defendant will appear in court. It would also require a detention hearing for anyone who is considered to be a danger to the public, if released.

Legislative term limits is the topic of a proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Dean Schamore, D-Hardinsburg. While it would increase terms of House members from two to four years, and from four to six years in the Senate, they could only serve 12 consecutive years.

In an effort to get more young people involved in the election process, Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, has proposed a constitutional amendment to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be able to vote in state and local elections. They would not be able to participate in federal elections for President, as well as U.S. House and Senate races.

The automatic restoration of voting rights after completing sentences of non-violent felony convictions is being proposed by two Democratic representatives, George Brown, Jr. of Lexington and Charles Booker of Louisville. Those found guilty of sex offenses, election bribery, or crimes that resulted in the intentional death of another, would have to have their rights restored by a pardon from the governor.

Republican Reps. Kevin Bratcher of Louisville and Jim DuPlessis of Elizabethtown are proposing animal rights legislation. One bill would provide for an animal abuse offender registry and increase the penalty for the second or subsequent convictions of cruelty to animals in the second degree a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Another would provide civil immunity for anyone who caused damage to a vehicle while breaking in to rescue a dog or cat they believe is in imminent danger of death. Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, is proposing similar legislation is his chamber.

If you’re tired of caller ID being “spoofed” on your phone by telemarketers, Bratcher is the primary sponsor of a bill that would ban misrepresentation of names or telephone numbers on the caller ID display. The penalty would include a $3,000 fine for conviction of a second or subsequent offense.

The first four days of the session, Jan. 8 to Jan. 11, will focus on organizational work, such as electing legislative leaders, adopting rules of procedure and organizing committees. The introduction and consideration of legislation can also begin during this time.

The second part of the session begins on Feb. 5 with final adjournment scheduled for March 29.

Legislators will not meet in session on Feb. 18 in observance of Presidents’ Day. The House and Senate will also not convene on March 8 or 11.

The veto recess – the period of time when lawmakers commonly return to their home districts while the governor considers the possibility of issuing vetoes – begins on March 14. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on March 28 and 29 for the final two days of the session.

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