Senator Discusses Four Bills, Governor's State Of Commonwealth Address
by Senator Steve Meredith:
The 60-day legislative session is moving right along here in Frankfort as the General Assembly begins to advance 2020 legislative priorities this week.
First, allow me to offer my congratulations to our newest colleague, Senator-elect Mike Nemes, who was elected with an overwhelming majority in the 38th Senate District, which encompasses Bullitt County and part of Jefferson County. I look forward to welcoming him to our caucus.
On Tuesday, Kentuckians and legislators from both sides of the aisle listened to Governor Beshear proposed policy goals and recommendations to the Kentucky General Assembly in his first State of the Commonwealth Address. The Governor also noted his legislative priorities for 2020, which included fully funding pension obligations, criminal justice reform, and plans to improve Kentucky public education, starting with a statewide teacher salary increase. As the legislature begins to prepare the biennial budget, Governor Beshear will also be delivering a budget address on January 28. Both of these addresses are customarily presented by the governor and serve as a beneficial element in our state’s separation of powers. We eagerly await to hear how the Governor plans to execute the ideas he has laid out.
Crafting a budget will not be an easy task. Demands placed on state government by our priorities, and other costs continue to outpace revenue growth. In the coming weeks, legislative branch staff and other resources will be utilized to help the General Assembly better determine a path forward for this year’s budgetary balancing act. Per the Kentucky Constitution, budget bills must start in the House. I will keep you informed as the Senate begins to deliberate budgetary matters in the coming weeks.
While the new administration formulates its agenda and presents it to the legislature, the majority leadership in the General Assembly is continuing to move forward with a legislative agenda supported by Kentucky voters. Committee meetings are now in full swing, as this past week legislators began discussing bills recently assigned to their respective committees.
Senate Bill 56 (SB 56) passed unanimously out of the Health & Welfare Committee on Wednesday during its first meeting of the 2020 Session. The committee heard student testimony as well as a presentation from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. SB 56 ensures Kentucky complies with federal minimum legal age for the sale of tobacco products and eliminates purchase, use, and imposes possession penalties for youth up to age 21. This encourages our youth to lead healthier lives.
Additionally, my bill, Senate Bill (SB 38) which deals respectful and dignified disposition of human remains for people deemed wards of our state also passed unanimously out of the Health & Welfare Committee. Without this legislation, the bodies of people under guardianship of our state can be held for days, and even weeks, before they can receive a proper burial.
The State Senate passed Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) on Thursday. This a great bill that proposes a constitutional amendment to the voters of Kentucky. If adopted, the amendment would move Kentucky’s statewide elections to even number years, in unison with Presidential elections. This would save the state $3.5 million dollars and counties $13 million dollars. It’s a fiscally responsible measure that will both alleviate voter fatigue, and increase voter engagement in the election of our state Constitutional Officers.
Senate Bill 11 (SB 11) also passed favorably on the Senate floor this week. SB 11 provides recourse for property owners to pursue legal action for intentional damages done to residential rental property. It would classify intentional or wanton destruction, defacement, or damage to such property as criminal mischief under Kentucky Law.
SB 3 and SB 11 will now head over to the House for consideration.
As we head into the third week of the 2020 Regular Session, your input is greatly appreciated. Kentuckians have many avenues to follow the General Assembly throughout the session, including seeing legislative action in person here in Frankfort, or viewing online at KET.org/legislature.
If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.