Legislation that would significantly change the format of future sessions of the General Assembly is moving in the Kentucky Senate. The measure, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, would shorten the session by a third over a two year period. He also says it could save the state seven million dollars each year.
In odd-numbered years, lawmakers would meet for five days in January with the possibility of ten more days. In even numbered years, the 138 legislators would gather for 45 days. Stivers believes this falls more in line with what state founders intended, telling his colleagues, "This is something that I believe returns us back to what the framers of our constitution believed us to be, a citizen legislature.”
Stivers says the bill would allow for scheduling creativity and would not impede the governor from calling lawmakers into special session.
Although they gave unanimous support, some members of the committee expressed concerns. Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas said more work needs to be done, not less, adding "retrenchment is probably not called for at this time."
Under Stivers' proposal, lawmakers could come back for another ten days in odd-numbered years. In even-numbered years, members would be in Frankfort for five days in January and, starting in February, another 40. Minority Floor Leader R.J. Palmer has some concerns. "And I do have a concern about 40 days. I mean, we're sitting at day 44 I believe today and we'll get the budget today, right. Well, under this calendar, potentially we'd already be out of time. We'd be into the extended period," said Palmer.
Still, Palmer voted for the bill saying there is some merit to the idea. More than one lawmaker admitted the current calendar can be a deterrent to attracting new candidates to run for the House or Senate