2021 General Assembly

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear has allowed the so-called “born alive” abortion bill to become law without his signature.

Senate Bill 9 will require doctors to provide life-saving care if a baby survives an abortion attempt, making it a felony if doctors refuse to.

Such situations are exceedingly rare and supporters haven’t documented any cases in Kentucky.

Kentucky law dictates that bills become law if a governor doesn’t sign or veto them within ten days of passage from the legislature.

During an interview Friday morning, Beshear said that he’s not endorsing the bill and emphasized that it seeks to prevent “something that never happens.”

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill that attempts to change the venue for lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of a law, executive order or state agency action.

The Republican-led legislature passed House Bill 3 earlier this month. The measure seeks to move those cases out of Franklin Circuit Court, where some Republicans say they aren’t treated fairly, and instead allow the lawsuits to be heard in the judicial district where a plaintiff lives.

In his veto message, Beshear wrote that the bill would create significant costs for state and local governments defending themselves from the lawsuits.

“House Bill 3 is the annual attempt to remove cases from Franklin Circuit Court because of legislative dissatisfaction with the duly elected judges and their rulings,” Beshear wrote.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a continuation budget as they head into a three-week long break during this year’s legislative session, though the spending plan will likely change.

The budget bill continues state spending at current levels, but legislators say it’s a “placeholder” and ultimately the final budget will be hammered out in the coming months.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Latonia and chair of the budget committee, said the unusual process is due to the shorter-than-usual legislative session.

“This is merely a continuation, but with the time constraints upon us, it’s important to go ahead and work ourselves to what we believe to be a free conference committee,” McDaniel said.

Ryland Barton

Eight people have filed an impeachment petition against Republican state Rep. Robert Goforth, who was indicted for assault charges last year after he allegedly attempted to hogtie and strangle his wife with an ethernet cord.

Goforth represents the 89th House district, which includes Jackson County and parts of Laurel and Madison counties. He was easily reelected last year despite the charges.

The petition, filed by eight of Goforth’s constituents in Madison County, says he should be impeached for “breach of public trust, felonious acts of violence upon women, abuse of office and state property, and other misfeasance and malfeasance.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature want to change which judges hear lawsuits against state officials and agencies.

Currently those lawsuits are heard in Franklin Circuit Court, headquartered in Frankfort, but under House Bill 3 they would be heard in circuit courts located around the state.

The measure passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and can now be considered by the full Senate.

During the hearing, Sen. Phillip Wheeler, a Republican from Pikeville, said the bill would make it easier for people in far corners of the state to follow up on legal challenges.

“When an individual is aggrieved by the state, many times they have far less resources than the state to be required to journey long distances. It’s a great burden to go to Franklin County on many occasions,” Wheeler said.

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The Kentucky House of Representatives quickly advanced budget bills on Monday that continue state spending at current levels.  The bills do not include Gov. Andy Beshear’s initiatives like state employee raises and relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is intended to speed up the budget writing process. Once the bills pass each chamber, the Republican-led House and Senate will begin a conference committee where they can hammer out the final budget in a small group.

Rep. Jason Petrie, a Republican from Elkton and chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said the budget bills that moved forward are largely the same as the ones that passed last year, with only small adjustments like debt service.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s Republican House Speaker David Osborne says a committee will be formed to determine whether Gov. Andy Beshear should be impeached, after four citizens submitted a petition asking for it.

Though the House can receive impeachment petitions at any time, the creation of an official impeachment committee is unusual, said Frankfort attorney Anna Whites.

Whites worked for former Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo. She said during Stumbo’s tenure, impeachment petitions would be sent to the Judiciary or Rules Committee for review, and then in most cases, “they would be determined not to be worth moving forward on.”

“I think it is unusual to immediately appoint a committee to review it prior to letting Judiciary or Rules have a first look at it, since they have experience in this,” Whites said.

Ryland Barton

 

The Kentucky legislature passed several bills on to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk on Saturday, including measures tweaking the governor’s powers during the coronavirus pandemic and limiting abortions.

The rare weekend session capped off the first week of this year’s General Assembly, where Republican leaders rushed bills through the lawmaking process, waiving several rules that normally allow the public to review and comment.

Meanwhile armed protesters gathered outside the state Capitol, waving flags in support of President Donald Trump, and decrying Beshear’s restrictions during the pandemic.

In a statement on Twitter, Gov. Andy Beshear criticized the protest.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled his proposal for how the state should spend its money over the next year, calling on lawmakers to slightly increase education funding, overhaul the state’s unemployment system and provide direct payments to businesses and people struggling during the pandemic.

Beshear’s budget would also give $1,000 raises to teachers and 1% raises to other state employees.

Beshear proposed paying for the new spending by using more than $600 million in one-time funds, largely from federal CARES Act money.

But ultimately the final budget will be decided by Republicans in the legislature, who command veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate.

Beshear called on lawmakers to “put aside squabbling and petty partisanship.”

Stephanie Wolf

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow businesses and schools to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic as long as they follow federal guidelines, even if that goes against Gov. Andy Beshear’s orders.

House Bill 1 still needs to pass out of the state Senate before it can become law. The Republican-led legislature could easily override a veto by Beshear if he were to do so.

Rep. Steve Rudy, a Republican from Paducah, said that more businesses and schools should be open and criticized the governor’s approach.

“We just want to know as a policy making branch, why in the world he’s doing this. The CDC is the gold standard, the CDC says schools should be open,” Rudy said.

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The Republican-led Kentucky legislature is moving quickly with bills to alter the governor’s emergency powers, restrict abortions and allow businesses to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday was the first day of this year’s legislative session and Republicans made good on their promise to weaken Kentucky governors’ powers, both during states of emergency like the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Sen. Matt Castlen, a Republican from Maceo, is the sponsor of the Senate’s top-priority bill, Senate Bill 1. The measure would limit the governor’s emergency orders to 30 days unless the legislature votes to extend them.

Castlen said that it is no longer important for the governor to have as much independent power as he currently does.

Ryland Barton

Republican leaders of the Kentucky General Assembly say they will require lawmakers to wear masks during this year’s legislative session amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual session begins Tuesday and lasts until March 30.

On KET’s Kentucky Tonight, House Speaker David Osborne said that lawmakers will be required to wear masks when they are on the House Floor and when they’re in public places interacting with staff.

“Beyond that, if they are able to socially distance, if they are able to confine themselves to offices, then certainly we would relax those restrictions,” Osborne said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Access to the Kentucky Capitol will still be limited as lawmakers return to Frankfort today for this year’s legislative session during the coronavirus pandemic.

Only lawmakers, essential staff, reporters and “specifically approved individuals” have been allowed into the Capitol and Capitol Annex since the beginning of the pandemic.

Those who make it in are required to have their temperature taken at the door.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear restricted access to the Capitol in March as an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers will return to Frankfort on Tuesday for an unusual legislative session in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike most years when committee rooms and galleries can be packed with advocates, lobbyists and other interested parties, access to the Capitol will be limited, though many proceedings can still be accessed on KET’s website.

Legislators will be faced with weighty issues: they’ll need to pass a one-year budget amid uncertainties about how much money the state will bring in, respond to the coronavirus pandemic and Republican leaders say they want to strip Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of his power to respond to the pandemic.

Beshear has said he wants to find new revenue sources for the state during the economic crisis—including initiatives like sports betting and medical marijuana, which have gotten limited support in previous years.

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Now that the 2020 Census is complete, Kentucky will embark upon another round of redistricting, the process in which lawmakers draw new boundaries for the legislature and the state’s six congressional districts.

The process is often criticized as “gerrymandering” because politicians tend to draw districts that favor the majority party.

Critics from both parties have long proposed ways to reform the process, but haven’t had much success getting lawmakers to change the process.

Back in 2014, Democrats controlled the Kentucky House of Representatives, as they had every year since the 1920s.

 

  

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