General Assembly Meeting Time Cut Short Due To Virus Pandemic
The 2020 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly has adjourned sine die.
This week, the legislature continued to work tirelessly to complete the people’s business in a timely, but healthy manner, meeting only 53 legislative days—seven days less per the Kentucky Constitution.
The House and Senate spent most of the last 24 hours of the session taking turns recessing to wait for the other to catch up on pending business. The tedious process of concurrence and veto overrides almost resembles a game of chess, but nonetheless essential to ensuring the integrity of the Commonwealth’s legislative process.
Early in the week week, both chambers voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2, legislation that will require voters to present photo ID. at the polls. It is important that we maintain the credibility of our elections. In recent years, we have had many races determined by single digit vote totals, therefore we should do what we can to ensure that our voter registration logs are up to date and voters are who they say they are. This bill helps solidify these concerns and helps maintain the integrity of Kentucky’s election process.
Under Senate Bill 2, voters have the option to provide any ID with their photo on it such as a student ID or employee ID. Not only does Senate Bill 2 include provisions for a free ID for those who do not have one, the bill also maintains the ability for a poll worker to verify they know a voter, and offers the option of voters who do not have an ID to sign an affidavit and submit a provisional ballot.
It is important to note that Senate Bill 2 will not become state law until ninety days after the end of the legislative session, so it will not be pertinent to the primary election currently scheduled in June, giving Kentucky voters enough time to obtain a photo ID should they not already have one. I was happy to support this legislation and see its final passage upon the veto override.
House Bill 387, amended to assist with coronavirus relief, allows the governor to declare it a “necessary government expense” to purchase protective gear for health workers and first responders. The bill also includes a provision to permit the governor to use unrestricted state funds, such as the rainy day fund, to pay for them.
Additional bills that the General Assembly approved include measures on the following topics:
Addiction treatment: Senate Bill 191 addresses certification and educational requirements for alcohol and drug counselors. The bill also directs Kentucky to establish guidelines employers can use to develop programs to help more individuals struggling with substance use disorders while maintaining employment.
Taxes: Senate Bill 5 will require library boards, and other so-called special-purpose governmental entities, to get approval from a county fiscal court or city council before increasing taxes.
Marsy’s Law: Senate Bill 15 would enshrine certain rights for crime victims in the state constitution. Those would include the right to be notified of all court proceedings, reasonable protection from the accused, timely notice of a release or escape, and the right to full restitution.
Terms of constitutional offices: House Bill 405 proposes a constitutional amendment that would increase the term of office for commonwealth's attorneys from six years to eight years beginning in 2030 and increase the term of office for district judges from four years to eight years beginning in 2022. It would also increase the experience requirement to be a district judge from two years to eight years.
Kentucky voters will decide on the proposed constitutional amendments this November.
The 2020 Regular Session was certainly unique. I will be sending a more detailed wrap-up of legislation passed in the coming weeks. Thank you for your support, criticisms, questions, and comments throughout this session. Your involvement is truly appreciated.
It’s great to be home, reunited with family. I hope to see you out and about in the coming year. Take care and God bless.
If you have any questions or comments, 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.