2019 General Assembly

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Thursday is the last day of the Kentucky General Assembly, with decisions still looming on several high-profile bills. But if you wanted to show up at the Kentucky State Capitol and protest, you’ll be turned away.  


According to an emergency regulation put in place by the Bevin administration in January, any person or group wanting to protest at the capitol needs to submit an application ten days in advance.

But the rules regarding capitol access are different for lobbyists.


Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort for the final day of this year’s legislative session on Thursday and will have to decide whether to override vetoes made by Gov. Matt Bevin and pass any bills at the last minute.

Bevin has already signed dozens of bills into law this legislative session, including a handful of anti-abortion measures, a yet-to-be funded school safety bill and changes to the tax code that reduce state revenue by about $105 million per year.

ACLU Seeks To Block Fetal Heartbeat Measure In Kentucky

Mar 18, 2019
ONA News Agency/Wikimedia Commons

Abortion-rights defenders opened a new legal fight against Kentucky on Friday to try to block one of the country’s most restrictive abortion measures, which would mostly ban the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Hours after Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature passed the so-called fetal heartbeat bill, the American Civil Liberties Union was back in federal court in Louisville to challenge the measure. The legislation won final passage late Thursday and was sent to the state’s anti-abortion governor, Republican Matt Bevin, who signed it Friday.

J. Tyler Franklin

With time expiring on the business-end of this year’s legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers sent a flurry of bills to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk on Thursday night.

Bevin now has 10 days — excluding Sundays — to veto bills or sign them into law. Legislators will return for one final day on March 28 to consider overriding vetoes or passing any last-minute measures.

Bevin has not been shy about using his veto powers in recent years, but the Republican-led legislature has overridden his rejections in many cases over the last two years.

Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky legislature has passed a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sending the measure to Gov. Matt Bevin to be signed into law.

Within minutes of the bill’s passage on Thursday night, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it would sue to block it.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, earlier than many people are aware that they’re pregnant.

Kentucky Rooftop Solar Bill Heads To Governor

Mar 15, 2019
Erica Peterson

Kentucky lawmakers have placed the future of rooftop solar in the hands of state regulators, changing how homeowners and small businesses receive compensation for the excess power they produce.

Late Thursday night, House representatives stripped Senate Bill 100 of protections favored by the state’s rooftop solar industry before adopting it in a 55 to 36 vote. The measure now moves to the governor’s office for a signature.

Rooftop solar installers and advocates say the measure will slow the growth of solar in the state and give large utilities the upper hand in cornering the market on solar energy production.


The Kentucky legislature has voted to expand the state’s law that allows people to clear some Class D felonies from their records after a five-year waiting period.

Under current law, people who have been convicted of one of 61 Class D felonies can have their criminal records cleared once they complete their sentences, wait five years and pay a $500 fee.

Senate Bill 57 expands the policy to other non-violent, non-sexual Class D felonies and lowers the fee to $250.

Liz Schlemmer

State Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis is asking for the names of teachers who have called in sick to protest education bills at the legislature.

The Kentucky Department of Education has requested the attendance records of teachers in 10 school districts: Bath, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Fayette, Jefferson, Letcher, Madison, Marion and Oldham.

The Department is also asking for the names and dates school employees have called in sick, with documentation from a doctor’s office and information about each school district’s attendance policy. School districts must submit the information by the close of the business day on Monday, March 18.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says he will likely sign off on a tax bill that reduces state revenue by about $105 million per year. The changes are mostly due to an adjustment in the way local banks get taxed by the state, but also include several other tax breaks.

Following a news conference Thursday announcing a $238 million expansion at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Bevin said the “odds are pretty high” that he would sign the tax bill.

“I will commit to that once I actually have it on my desk, but we know it has a fiscal cost of about a $100 million,” Bevin said.


The Kentucky Senate has voted to ban doctors from performing abortions if they believe the person seeking the procedure wants it because of the fetus’ race, sex or disability. The measure now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin for final approval.

Within minutes of the bill’s passage, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it would sue to block it.

Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Kentucky, said the bill would interfere with a person’s right to decide whether to end a pregnancy.


Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have proposed revising the state’s tax code, cutting $105 million in state revenue largely by changing how local banks get taxed.

The move comes as Kentucky struggles with a massive pension debt that requires the state to put record amounts of money into the pension systems and as the state consistently has trouble generating enough tax revenue to pay for expenses.

House Speaker David Osborne, a Republican from Prospect, said that the local bank tax break will be expensive, but worth it.

creative commons

A bill that would ban the use of tobacco products on public school grounds across the state is making a last-minute bid in the Kentucky legislature after being stalled for weeks.

House Bill 11 would ban students, employees and volunteers from using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, on school property or during school events.

Rep. Kim Moser, a Republican from Taylor Mill and sponsor of the bill, said that school districts can vote to “opt out” of the ban.

Kentucky Could Make Worst Funded Pension Plan Even Worse

Mar 13, 2019
J. Tyler Franklin

Over the next three decades, Kentucky owes roughly 35,000 state workers more than $15 billion in pension benefits. But it has a little more than $2 billion to make those payments.

That's less than 13 percent of what's needed, making it one of the worst-funded public pension plans in the country.

Wednesday, state lawmakers will likely vote to make it worse.

The legislation would let about 118 quasi-governmental entities — including public health departments, domestic violence shelters and public universities — leave the struggling pension system while paying less than what they owe. Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel, the bill's chief sponsor, said he expects all of them to take the deal.

Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill that would once again allow employers to force employees to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

Kentucky is currently the only state in the country that doesn’t allow employers to impose the agreements, which require employees to settle disputes privately instead of suing in court.

Rep. Angie Hatton, a Democrat from Whitesburg, said that the bill erodes the constitutional rights of employees.

Bill Seeking to Bypass Frankfort Judges Stalls in Committee

Mar 12, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

A bill aimed at redirecting big legal cases away from a circuit judge who has drawn the ire of Republican leaders is on "life support" after a Kentucky House committee refused to consider the measure Tuesday, the Senate's top leader acknowledged.

Senate President Robert Stivers said lingering concerns made it uncertain whether the bill could clear the Judiciary Committee and pass the GOP-dominated House. As a result, the committee skipped over the bill with just a handful of days left in this year's legislative session.