2016 Kentucky General Assembly

Stu Johnson

Senate consideration of the state budget Tuesday concluded with the measure passing generally along party lines with Democrats voting against the bill and Republicans for the spending plan. The floor debate which preceded the vote featured an often-heard refrain in Frankfort. 

Platooning Trucks Measure Heads to House Floor

Mar 13, 2018

Legislation to allow for commercial truck platooning along Kentucky interstates continues to move on down the general assembly ‘bill highway’.  The Senate measure prompted questions from members of the House Transportation Committee Tuesday.

The technology allows semi-trucks to be connected electronically and travel in close proximity to each other.  Pike County Representative Chris Harris asked about platooning in high traffic areas. “This seems a little bit dangerous, particularly when you are talking about in congested areas,” said Harris.

House Panel Approves State Terrorism Measure

Feb 22, 2018

Legislation to create a terrorism definition in Kentucky law continues to move through the general assembly.  Members of the House Judiciary Committee easily approved the measure Wednesday.

Bill sponsor, Senator Max Wise, was asked if such a definition didn’t already exist in federal law. “There’s not a universal of terrorism.  Every single agency defines terrorism by what they think is best for them, for prosecution purposes.”

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

State lawmakers have once again called off budget negotiations, hoping to hammer out a compromise on Thursday.

Lawmakers met in small groups privately on Wednesday afternoon, but they provided no indication that they were any closer to an agreement by the end of the day.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, offered no details of which parts of the budget lawmakers still couldn’t agree on.

Kentucky Budget Negotiations Coming Down to the Wire

Mar 30, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL

Lawmakers are still trying to produce a compromise budget to delineate $22 billion in state spending over the next two years.

Leaders from the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate have spent much of the last week trying to come up with a final version of the budget.

Partisan squabbling and disagreements over how to fix the state’s ailing pension systems and whether to cut higher education spending have complicated negotiations at the closure of the legislative session.


Kentuckians who have committed certain felony offenses would be able to clear their records under a bill that passed the state Senate Tuesday. The bill’s passage marked a milestone for the Senate, which has largely ignored the issue for more than a decade.

The new policy would apply to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Hopkinsville, shepherded the bill through the Senate.


Kentucky’s higher education institutions would compete for a portion of their state funding under the Senate’s budget proposal, which will be fully unveiled later this week.

The competition would be based on degrees produced, graduation rates, retention rates and closing “achievement gaps” among low-income students and underrepresented minorities.

“Whoever’s excelling deserves to be rewarded,” said Sen. David Givens, a Greensburg Republican and main architect of the policy, which he said would go into effect in 2018.

Administrative Office of the Courts

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton outlined a series of grim consequences if the state House’s proposed budget cuts to the Judicial Branch are approved, including laying off 600 people and trimming programs that keep people out of jail.

“I’m done with being cool and calm and collected. The hair that I have left is on fire,” Minton said to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

The state House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that would create a new class of criminal punishment called “gross misdemeanor.”

Included in the new category would be three crimes that are currently Class D felonies: flagrant non-support (not paying child support), second degree forgery and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Budget Race Begins

Mar 18, 2016
Sean Cannon / WFPL

This week in Kentucky politics, the House of Representatives finally presented its version of the state budget, restoring some spending cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill that would let some people clear felonies from their records.

And the Senate approved a measure that would allow business owners to deny services based on their religious beliefs.

All that and more during this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. Click on the player above to listen. 


Kentuckians with certain Class D felonies would be able to clear their criminal records under a bill that the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved on Thursday.

The legislation would create a process whereby people with Class D felonies could file to have their judgments vacated five years after completing their sentences.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

After four special elections for vacant state House of Representatives seats on Tuesday, the chamber is still controlled by Democrats.

Despite months of Democratic hand wringing, the party easily won elections in the districts around Hopkinsville, Georgetown and South Shore in Eastern Kentucky.

Republicans won the special election in Danville in Central Kentucky.


The outcome of four special elections in Kentucky on Tuesday could change the political control of the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South run by Democrats.

If Republicans win all four elections, they would tie the political makeup of the chamber, where Democrats hold 50 seats and Republicans 46. Democrats have held a majority in the House since 1921.


This week in Kentucky politics, the controversy over abortion services in Louisville intensified after the Bevin Administration sued a Planned Parenthood branch.

Meanwhile, a bill to create different marriage licenses for heterosexual and homosexual couples advanced in the General Assembly. And the Bevin Administration released new details of how the Kynect health insurance exchange will be replaced.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Clash of the Governors

Feb 12, 2016
Kentucky LRC

This week in Kentucky politics, former Gov. Steve Beshear returned to confront current Gov. Matt Bevin over health care, lawmakers took another crack at the local option sales tax and, once again, anti-abortion legislation maneuvered its way through the General Assembly.


As part of his proposed budget cuts, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin exempted what he considered to be key government services. Not protected: The government agencies charged with holding him and his administration accountable.

Associated Press

It was quick, albeit unorthodox, when Kentucky's governor signed into law an abortion bill as soon as a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him.

The first bill signed by Gov. Matt Bevin since taking office updates the state's informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.

The bill gives patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.

Gary Burke / Flickr

State legislators are once again being called upon to allow casino gambling in Kentucky as a way to pump revenue into the ailing pension systems for public employees.

Expanded gaming has been pushed during legislative sessions for years as an answer to Kentucky’s financial woes, but it’s never gotten enough traction to pass.

That doesn’t mean the supporters will stop pushing. On Tuesday, Greater Louisville Inc. announced its support for a bill proposed by two Louisville state senators. In a news release, GLI noted that Kentucky loses tax revenue each year to casinos in bordering states.

“These are dollars that could be going toward our state deficit and our significant pension obligations,” GLI President Kent Oyler said in the news release.


State House Democrats say they likely will not approve $650 million worth of state spending cuts as outlined in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's budget proposal.

The resistance sets up a budget battle one month ahead of four special elections that could shift the balance of power in the legislature.


The “informed consent” abortion bill is heading to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.

The state Senate concurred on Monday with the House’s version of the legislation, which would require women seeking an abortion to meet with a doctor 24 hours in advance of the procedure in person or over live video.

The bill, which passed the Senate 33-5, would be Bevin’s first signed into law.

Making Kentucky’s public colleges and universities more accountable, efficient and effective is the aim of a proposal being championed in the General Assembly this year by Senate Republicans. Tom Martin talked with Bob King, President of the Council on Postsecondary Education about proposed “Performance-Based Funding.”


This week, state lawmakers began considering controversial bills, while Gov. Matt Bevin fulfilled big campaign promises on health care and the racial makeup of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

In this edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled, we consider Week 2 of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session. Here’s a breakdown of the goings on in Frankfort.



Legislative Research Commission

A legislative committee on Wednesday passed a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure.

Since 2001, women seeking an abortion have been able to have the so-called “informed consent” meeting over the phone.

The 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly begins on January 5th.  Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dave Adkisson joined Tom Martin for a look at the business organization’s top priorities for the 2016 session.

Kentucky Approach to Lawmaking One of Many

Jan 5, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Kentucky lawmakers aren’t the only officials heading to their state capital this month.  There are distinct differences in general assemblies from state to state.