2019 General Assembly

Trust for Life

Kentucky has one of the nation’s fastest-growing organ donor registries, but a change in driver’s license rules could hamper that growth. 

Most organ donors register when they receive or renew their driver’s license.  When Kentucky begins rolling out new standard licenses and voluntary travel IDs in March, drivers 21 years and older have the option of renewing their licenses every four or eight years. 

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Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have formed a new group tasked with reviewing and analyzing the state’s pension systems, which are underfunded and have been the subject of controversial reform attempts in recent years.

The move comes after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the legislature’s last effort to address the pension issue by weakening retirement benefits for some current and most future state workers.

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A Republican-dominated board of Kentucky lawmakers investigating an Owensboro Democrat's election by a one-vote margin has obtained 17 unopened absentee ballots from the local county clerk's office.

Republican DJ Johnson lost to Democrat Jim Glenn by one vote in the November election for the 13th District House seat in Daviess County. Johnson has asked the Republican-dominated House of Representatives for a recount. His lawyers have focused on 17 absentee ballots that were not counted for various reasons.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky legislature are advancing an abortion restriction that opponents worry could upend the landmark Roe v. Wade court ruling that legalized abortion more than four decades ago.

Senate Bill 9 would make it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which takes place as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

The bill will likely be challenged in court because it undercuts longstanding rulings on abortion rights.

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A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers has proposed a medical marijuana bill that would allow people to buy the drug from licensed dispensaries if a doctor recommends it.

Medical marijuana legislation has been discussed in recent years, but has never gained enough momentum to pass the preliminary stages of the Kentucky legislature.

Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville and one of the bill’s sponsors, said that a majority of the 100-member House support the bill.

Ryland Barton

As this year’s legislative session gets under way, one seat in Kentucky’s 100-member House of Representatives is still in question.

Former Republican Rep. DJ Johnson lost re-election to represent House District 13 by one vote in November to Jim Glenn, a Democrat who previously held the seat between 2007 and 2016.

But Johnson has requested a recount of the election, a process whereby the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will ultimately determine the outcome.

J. Tyler Franklin

During the upcoming Kentucky General Assembly, lawmakers will consider taking up a variety of proposals like a new attempt to change state worker pension benefits, funding for charter schools and limiting citizens’ right to sue other individuals and businesses.

Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office for the third year in a row, meaning they won’t need any help from Democrats to pass bills or constitutional amendments if they can stay united.

Rae Hodges

Sports gaming has been a hot topic since a Supreme Court decision last year allowed states to legalize gambling on sports such as football and basketball.

Now, Kentucky lawmakers are being asked to support legislation allowing regulated sports betting in the commonwealth.

Democratic State Senator Julian Carroll of Franklin County has pre-filed a bill to create a Kentucky Gaming Commission to oversee the new industry. Carroll says creating rules would allow the state to start collecting revenue which could go towards education and retirement funds.

Jody Richards: Reflections of a Kentucky Statesman

Jan 3, 2019
LRC Public Affairs

When Legislators convene the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly on Jan. 8, one prominent Democrat will be absent.  After more than 40 years of service to the Commonwealth, Representative Jody Richards begins his retirement.  The former House Speaker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate says there are many challenges facing lawmakers, but one issue is critical.

"The most important issue facing the Commonwealth always is education  - elementary, secondary, and higher - that’s the main function of state government," Richards said. "We spend somewhere around 55 percent of the state budget on education, so to me that is such an important part of state government.”


LRC Public Information

Louisville Democratic Rep. Attica Scott has filed a pair of bills for the upcoming legislative session that would eliminate the sales tax on menstrual products and baby supplies.

The proposed exemptions would remove the 6 percent sales tax on tampons, panty liners and other menstrual products as well as diapers, breast pumps and baby bottles.

Scott said the proposals would help poor Kentuckians by eliminating a tax on essential items.

A Kentucky policy institute is pushing state lawmakers to address criminal justice reform during the next legislative session. The left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy hopes to see movement on a bail reform bill pre-filed for Kentucky’s 2019 legislative session.

The bill would overhaul how the state imposes monetary bail. Under the measure sponsored by eastern Kentucky Republican Representative John Blanton, a court would assess whether a defendant is at risk of failing to appear in court or is a danger to the public before imposing a cash bail.

Lisa Autry

A new class of state lawmakers is headed to Frankfort for the 2019 Kentucky General Assembly. 

Democrat Patti Minter is among 36 freshmen legislators who will be sworn into office on January 8.  She expects the 30-day session to be dominated by pension reform after the state Supreme Court struck down a law that passed in this year’s legislature. 

Minter says she was shocked by Governor Matt Bevin calling a special session this month that didn’t produce a new pension law.

"The idea that the governor would spend $132,000 of the taxpyers' money just to try to shovel through a bill that had been declared unconstitutional, because he doesn't think he can pass it during the general session, that's just subversion of democracy," stated Minter.

Minter who won an election for the 20th District House seat that represents part of Warren County.  The seat belongs to retiring State Representative and former House Speaker Jody Richards.  In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Dr. Minter looked ahead to her new term.


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A Kentucky state lawmaker has pre-filed a bill for the 2019 legislative session that would require racial and ethnic impact statements when the commonwealth considers new criminal justice or safety laws.

Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal’s bill would require the Legislative Research Commission to compile reports to discover what unintended consequences a bill could have on the state’s minority communities.

The Louisville Democrat likened the idea of racial and ethnic impact statements to fiscal statements, which explore the financial impact of proposed laws.

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The nation’s largest professional sports organizations are registering in Kentucky for the first time following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

The high court in May ruled that a federal gambling statute violated the U.S. Constitution and cleared the way for individual states to decide on sports betting. 

The National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the PGA Tour have all registered to lobby during the 2019 General Assembly.

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