Legislators Hit The Ground Running In First Two Weeks Of Session
by Representative Michael Lee Meredith:
Since adjourning the 2021 Regular Session, interim committees met, heard testimony, gathered information, and focused on how to use the knowledge and data gained to craft thoughtful, intentional policies to help address the challenges our state faces.
Because we did our homework, we are ready for this legislative session. When we gaveled in on January 4, we hit the ground running because we were well-prepared for the task. We acted on bills that redraw the state’s legislative, congressional, and supreme court districts. Redistricting is required by the United States and Kentucky constitutions to better represent trends in population after each census. The final product must meet constitutional and legal considerations, while ensuring that each person has equal representation.
Not one House district remains unchanged, but there were only minor adjustments to our district. The new 19th district will continue to contain all of Edmonson County and portions of northern and eastern Warren County.
Redistricting consumed a great deal of our time during the first week, but it is far from the only issue that received our attention. On Friday, we made the historic move of filing a House budget proposal before the Governor’s budget address. The Kentucky Constitution is clear that the budget must begin in the House of Representatives. However, lawmakers have traditionally waited weeks and used the Governor’s budget as a starting place. By filing our own proposal, we have an opportunity to start the process sooner and consider the Governor’s recommendations and work with our colleagues in the Senate. I am pleased that it shows a commitment to meeting our state’s needs without spending every dollar available to us, giving us the opportunity to look at moving forward on reforming our tax code to attract businesses and lower the tax burden on our citizens. Highlights include record funding for education, a continued commitment to the state’s budget reserve trust fund, and resources to provide pay increases for the Kentucky State Police, state employees, social workers, and educators. To be honest, I am impressed with the investments it makes as well as the restraint it showed with money that belongs to you as a taxpayer.
K-12 Education Funding
Health and Family Services
We also filed legislation during our first week, HB 5, aimed at addressing some of the needs generated by the deadly storms that destroyed so many homes and businesses in Kentucky. We acted swiftly on this and another measure during our second week to help those impacted by the December tornadoes in Kentucky. Not a single vote was cast against HB 5, which creates a fund and allocates $200 million towards education services, temporary housing, the rebuilding of public buildings, and the reimbursement of costs incurred by local governments and utilities for their response. While some of this funding may be reimbursed to the state through FEMA or insurance, these communities need access to resources immediately. This is the first step in what will no doubt be a long march towards rebuilding these communities. We also voted unanimously to approve HJR 29, which extends only the executive orders necessary to recovery and rebuilding efforts in the region.
In addition to our legislative work, I was also extremely pleased to see the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) halt the Biden administration’s attempt to mandate privately owned businesses require employees vaccinate. I appreciate the Court’s consideration of this issue. We should continue talking about how to best provide the tools that individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations need to address Covid just like all challenges they face.
As always, I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information, please visit the LRC website www.legislature.ky.gov.