Kentucky General Assembly

Foster Care Review in Frankfort

Jan 15, 2018

A representative with an organization which advocates for at risk children and families says investing on “front end” care can help to reduce the number of foster children needing residential based services.

The pace of activity in the Kentucky senate so far in 2018 is not the same as a year ago.  The 38 member senate in the first week of 2017 approved seven bills including right to work and legislative pension transparency measures, plus legislation to require an ultrasound before an abortion.

For more than a decade, Kentucky’s largest business association has hosted a state legislative preview conference.  Tuesday’s event in Lexington covered most hot button items for the 2018 general assembly session.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson believes the budgetary challenges facing state lawmakers over the next three months could be the toughest in decades.

The veteran business leader says it could even outdistance the 2008 recession, because there will be no federal bailout support this time.

During the next month, Kentuckians are being asked to offer their thoughts on proposed academic standards for bible literacy courses taught in public high schools. 

The final standards are expected to be in place for elective classes to be offered during the next school year.

More than 50 attorneys have signed up to chair medical review panels as called for in a new state law. 

Actual panel hearings on medical malpractice complaints are still several weeks away.

Republicans running for the state legislature registered many wins in Tuesday’s election.  The victories put the GOP in solid control of both houses of the General Assembly.

Republicans needed to take four seats in the state House to get majority control.  By night's end, GOP candidates had secured well over a dozen new seats in the 100 member chamber. 

Ky. Expungement Law Takes Effect

Jul 15, 2016

Kentuckians with certain felony convictions can now begin the process of having such Class D offenses expunged.  July 15th marks the first effective day of the legislation approved by lawmakers earlier this year. 

Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan expects thousands to seek removal of non-violent felonies.  “Once they get rid of that one felony, they’re going to come out from under an economic death sentence and their going to have a chance to provide better for their families and be even better contributors to their community,” explained Monahan.

These Are The New State Laws That Go Into Effect This Month

Jul 4, 2016

Although the 2016 General Assembly ended back in April, its effects will be felt in mid-July, when a bevy of laws go into effect.

Most new laws are given a 90-day window for state agencies and other offices to prepare for their implementation. Here’s a rundown of some of the major laws that will take effect on July 15.

CPE Head Assessing State Budget Agreement Impact

Apr 14, 2016

The head of Kentucky’s Council on Post-secondary Education says the compromise state budget will have an effect on every college and university campus in the state.  Leaders from the House and Senate reached a compromise agreement early Thursday morning.  

With Budget Talks Near Deadline, Bevin Says No Special Session

Apr 12, 2016

If lawmakers fail to pass a state budget by the end of the legislative session on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin says he won’t call a special legislative session to give them more time.

If a two-year budget doesn’t pass by June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown. Nonetheless, Bevin is adamant that he won’t give lawmakers more time.

“I will not reward the inability to do the job that people were sent here for by paying them extra money,” Bevin said. “The job can get done. I believe the job will get done because the job should get done.”

Budget Negotiations Still in Play in Frankfort

Apr 11, 2016

Kentucky House and Senate leaders have announced they will resume budget talks Tuesday and have moved the final day of the legislative session to Friday. 

Ky. General Assembly Backs Additional 9-1-1 Funding

Apr 4, 2016


The Kentucky General Assembly has taken action to help localities across the Commonwealth maintain emergency 9-1-1 services.  It comes with increased costs for some cell phone users.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Members of the Kentucky House and Senate will not meet in session Wednesday, but budget negotiations will continue.  After talks came to a standstill this week, leaders from both chambers decided to work on the spending plan Wednesday and likely Thursday, and then call members back into session on Friday.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo was asked if this strategy would work.  “If it doesn’t work, it won’t be because we didn’t try,” Stumbo said.  “This is pretty normal in the closing days of a lot of sessions, there is a little bit of confusion.  We are working very desperately to get a budget,

Stumbo: Compromise on State Budget Unlikely

Mar 28, 2016


Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suggesting that the current general assembly session may end without passage of a state budget. House and Senate budget conferees met during a public session Monday afternoon. 

Stumbo says the prospects of reaching agreement on a spending plan are slim.   “Well, I thought this morning there was a glimmer of hope, but it seems that’s vanished in the afternoon session," Stumbo said. "So I think we’re still light years apart."

House, Senate Budget Negotiations Resume Monday

Mar 28, 2016

House and Senate conferees will go back to the table Monday to continue working toward a state budget agreement.  One of the remaining points of contention is funding for higher education. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said on Friday that it was difficult to predict what a compromise would look like.  “That’s why we have a conference committee and it would be premature for me to comment at this time as to where that’s gonna go,” said Thayer.

Bourbon, Beer, and Wine Bill Appears Headed for Final Passage

Mar 24, 2016

    A bill seeking to make many changes to Kentucky’s alcohol laws appears to be moving toward final passage.  It impacts bourbon, beer, and wine industries in communities across the state.

The omnibus alcohol measure allows for increased production by small farm wineries and microbreweries, and aims to ease certain restrictions on the bourbon industry.  Union Senator John Schickel is the bill’s sponsor.  “Almost really in every category - the distilleries, small farm wineries, and craft breweries - everybody got something but nobody got everything they wanted,” said Schickel.

Concussion Legislation Appears Headed for Passage

Mar 22, 2016

New protocols for athletic coaches and referees regarding concussions is likely headed for final passage in the Kentucky legislature.  The Senate Education Committee gave unanimous support to the House bill Tuesday. 

Bill Cracking Down on Synthetic Drugs Moves On

Mar 17, 2016

Kentucky lawmakers are working to change punishment standards for the abuse of synthetic drugs.  Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved increased penalties for trafficking or possession of synthetics.  

Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield says two of the drugs discussed are not yet of concern in the commonwealth, but will likely be in the future," Westerfield said.  “And then we add those two other drugs, W-15 and W-18, which are profoundly potent compared to Fentanyl and compared to drugs that we are seeing here in Kentucky already.”

Early Voting Measure Emerges from Ky. House

Mar 15, 2016

Early voting legislation, a high priority of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, has won House approval.  The measure, after substantial debate, passed Monday by a 20-vote margin.  Frankfort Representative Derrick Graham supported the bill.  “Across the country, they’ve been doing this," Graham said.  

'And what they have seen is the voter participation has increased tremendously."

The bill would allow Kentuckians to cast ballots, without an excuse, at the county clerk’s office or other designated location at least 12 days before an election.  

Local Option Sales Tax Moves to Ky. Senate

Mar 14, 2016

Local option sales tax legislation won just enough House votes Friday to send the measure to the Kentucky Senate.  The constitutional amendment measure is a high priority of the Kentucky League of Cities.

It takes 60 votes in the House to pass a constitutional amendment bill.  The measure, which seeks to give local governments an avenue to establish up to a one percent sales tax, was approved 60 to 31. The levy would be used for specific projects and would not be a permanent tax.  

Local Option Sales Tax Measure Moves Out of Ky. Committee

Mar 8, 2016


A bill to amend the Kentucky Constitution to give local governments the option of temporarily raising sale taxes is headed to the full House.  

Ky. Conservation Group Lobbies For Fund Preservation

Mar 7, 2016

    Many state supported organizations are facing significant funding cuts as outlined in Governor Matt Bevin’s budget plan.  One such group made its case for funding preservation to lawmakers last week.

Legislation to set aside state funds to help with counseling compulsive and problem gamblers is headed to the Kentucky House floor.  Similar measures have been before state lawmakers 15 times previously. 

When originally filed in 2000, the funds for education, prevention, and counseling were to come from charitable gambling proceeds.  Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling’s Mike Stone says now the bill calls for general fund support.  “It’s all funds that we believe can come from instant racing dollars that are new to the state and additional funds of that nature,” said Stone.

A bill that would officially define ‘bullying’ within schools across Kentucky is headed for the House floor.  The measure, sponsored by Richmond Representative Rita Smart, emerged from the House Education Committee Tuesday.  Smart says in Madison County more and more children are being home schooled because of bullying.  “They used to have a few children in a home bound program because of a broken leg or infection, but now they have more because of anxiety and mental health issues, and it costs them," Smart said. "They have to have a teacher for those children.” 

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    A panel of college freshmen and high school seniors is urging Kentucky lawmakers to do more to assist low income students who have higher education aspirations.  Their testimony focused on two needs based scholarship programs.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News


A Kentucky House Committee has approved a measure that would increase penalties for the possession and trafficking of synthetic drugs. Proponents of the measure are hopeful it will curb the spread of a very trendy synthetic.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office would have shared jurisdiction with all state courts in human trafficking investigations and prosecutions under a bill approved in a House committee.  The measure easily emerged from the Judiciary Committee Wednesday.  Attorney General Andy Beshear says human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry worldwide, “Of the reports the Cabinet is getting right now and, mind you, it is vastly under-reported, only about ten percent of those cases are resulting in a criminal investigation.”

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The first day of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly brought with it the first citizen rally of the session.  Dubbed the ‘We are Kentuckians’ rally, the emphasis was on issues including racial equality, fairness, and clean air and water.  Ben Vivona attended the rally at the capitol rotunda. He held one corner of a large sign which read ‘people over profit.’   “It’s a human issue; everyone deserves to have a living wage,” Vivona said.  “If they’re working full time, they should be able to support themselves at the very least.”

Bill Would Make Churches a Safe Haven for Unwanted Newborns

Dec 29, 2015
Flickr/Creative Commons/Olaf Gradin

When the 2016 legislative session begins next month, state lawmakers will consider expanding the Kentucky Safe Infants Act to include churches. 

The state law currently allows parents to drop off unwanted newborns, three days old or less, at police and fire departments, and hospital emergency rooms without being criminally charged. 

State Representative Donna Mayfield of Winchester, who has pre-filed legislation, thinks parents would feel less culpable surrendering their children at churches.


A week from tomorrow lawmakers will converge on the State Capitol for the start of the 2016 general assembly session.  It will likely be a time to get a feel for new leadership.