Kentucky Senate

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has given its approval to a measure which seeks to move the election of statewide constitutional officers to even numbered years.  

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation calling for a Constitutional amendment concerning victims’ rights. Kentucky’s version of Marcy’s Law passed the senate in 2016, but failed to make it to the House floor.

A major proponent of legislative steps to reduce smoking in Kentucky believes a dollar increase in the state’s cigarette tax faces an uphill climb.  But, Winchester lawmaker Ralph Alvarado says including such a hike in an overall tax reform measure would increase the chances of passage.

Stu Johnson

Public pension reforms and the adoption of a two year budget are among the weighty issues before Kentucky lawmakers in Frankfort in 2018.  But, the newly sworn-in Senate President Pro Tem says funding for state roads is also a big challenge.

Stu Johnson

In an extremely rare Saturday meeting of the Kentucky General Assembly, legislators took final action on abortion and labor-related bills.  Both the House and Senate voted to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require an ultrasound prior to any abortion. 

During debate on the ultrasound measure, Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas said some Kentucky children face extreme trauma every day.  “We see children that are unattended.  We see children who will suffer. We see children who are harmed and permanently damaged.”

State Budget Impasse Remains an Issue

Apr 4, 2016

Kentucky lawmakers are deadlocked on a state budget but have to come up with a compromise by April 15th—the last day the state constitution allows them to meet.  If the stalemate continues, state government could be partially shut down. 

Leaders of the Democratic-led House refuse to accept cuts to K-12 and higher education proposed by Senate Republicans and Gov. Matt Bevin. GOP leaders say the cuts are necessary to put more money into the state’s ailing pension system.

Natural hair braiders in Kentucky would be exempt from cosmetology licensing under a bill given unanimous senate approval Friday.  Louisville Representative Perry Clark told his colleagues that the practice represents 5,000 years of deep African cultural heritage.  He says it’s an economic fairness issue.  “They really want to apply for a business license, pay the taxes, and really start making some money doing their hair braiding," said Clark.  "It’s an economic freedom bill."

Ky. Motorcycle Group Lends Support to Auto Cycles Bill

Mar 18, 2016

Members of Kentucky’s motorcycle community are seeking legislative clarification regarding auto cycles in the areas of licensing, insurance, and sales.  So far, the three-wheeled vehicle with an inside cab hasn’t shown up on many Kentucky roads, but, they are expected to increase in number. 

Ky. Senate Vote to Eliminate State Mine Inspections

Mar 18, 2016


State inspections of Kentucky’s underground mines would be eliminated under a bill approved by the state senate on Thursday. Supporters say the measure reduces duplication of federal mine assessments.

2016 Version of Charter School Legislation Passes Ky. Senate

Mar 17, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The Kentucky Senate has again put its stamp of approval on charter school legislation.  However, this session’s bill is different from past proposals.

The public charter school measure calls for pilot programs in Louisville and Lexington over the next five years.  Another change came through a floor amendment offered by Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas.  “What my senate floor amendment does is say, Okay, let’s have charters," Thomas said.  "Let’s bring them to the table.  But, let the local school board do it and also let’s not charge them fees."

Ky. Senate Acts to Define Bullying in Schools

Mar 10, 2016

Kentucky lawmakers are working to establish a standardized definition for bullying within public schools.  Legislation to add an official definition to each school’s code of conduct cleared the full senate 30 to 6 on Wednesday. Paducah Senator Danny Carroll says the measure would not create a new criminal offense.  “Bullying means an unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated,” explained Carroll.

Ky. Senate Passes Bill to Restrict Abortion Clinics

Mar 10, 2016

New facilities in Kentucky seeking to perform abortions would be required to obtain from the state a ‘certificate of need’ under legislation approved Wednesday in the republican-led senate.  The measure also requires facilities to have a doctor on site with hospital admitting privileges within 50 miles of the clinic.  Republican Senator Albert Robinson of London brought the bill to the senate floor.  “Currently abortion clinics are not required to go through this process, which means that there is little oversight of their operations," Robinson said.


The so-called school calendar bill is on its way to the Kentucky House.  The compromise measure won widespread support Tuesday in the state senate.

Ky. Republicans Assess Trump's Popularity

Mar 7, 2016

Republican legislators in Kentucky are citing various reasons for Donald Trump’s front-runner status in the race for the party’s nomination for president. Trump won both the Kentucky republican caucus and the Louisiana primary on Saturday.  

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Juveniles sending nude images of themselves or others via computer or smart phone could be charged with a misdemeanor under a bill passed in the Kentucky Senate Thursday.  Currently, such an act is a felony, which bill proponents say judges are hesitant to enforce.  Hopkinsville Senator Whitney Westerfield believes the lesser charge still sends a message.  “This allows them to have a criminal penalty and face consequences, but hopefully use it as a learning exercise and not carry a felony conviction, much less sex offender registry, for the rest of their lives,” said Westerfield.

    A compromise school calendar bill, partly aimed at assisting Kentucky’s tourism industry, is picking up steam in the state senate.  The bill that earned committee approval Thursday offers flexibility for local school districts.

Ky. Senate Bill Aims to Stay Ahead of Biological Pharmaceuticals

Mar 3, 2016

    The Kentucky Senate Wednesday overwhelmingly approved legislation in preparation for an expected increase in the use of biologically similar medications.  The bill’s sponsor says these medicines can substantially save on costs when treating certain diseases.

More and more medications for specific ailments are biological products made from living organisms.  Bio-similar drugs, which are much cheaper, are being produced as interchangeable medicines. 

Winchester Senator, Doctor Ralph Alvarado says about 20 to 40 of those medications are in the pipeline.

Kentucky lawmakers are seeking to make adjustments in election related requirements.  Senate Bill 169 would put into statute a court ruling prohibiting electioneering 100 feet from a polling place.  For many years, the limit was 300 feet.  Bill Sponsor Albert Robinson says the measure also deals with privacy issues.  “Redact the social security number on the voting cards, there is no need of that and instead of having different copies of paper you don’t have to have in the statutory required copies that are no longer needed.  Takes that out,” said Robinson.


Some juvenile court proceedings would be open to the public under a bill approved by the Kentucky Senate Friday.  The issue has been before state lawmakers before.

The measure, approved 29-6, establishes pilot programs in three yet to be determine judicial districts.  Louisville Senator Julie Raque-Adams says cases related to dependency, neglect, abuse, or determination of parental rights could be made public.  “Opening up that process and making sure that these children are protected by our workers is a very important thing to have happen,” said Raque-Adams.

Doctor/Physician Assistant Legislation Moves Forward

Feb 17, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Legislation to change the working relationship between medical doctors and physician assistants is moving through the Kentucky General Assembly.  It comes after work by several health care interests.


Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Actress Jennifer Garner spent the day in Frankfort on Tuesday. Garner is artist ambassador for ‘Save the Children,’ an international non-profit that promotes children’s rights and supports them through education and relief supplies.  It Kentucky affiliation began 80 years ago in Harlan County.  Garner visited the Capitol to ask state lawmakers to preserve funding for the organization’s efforts in the commonwealth.

Senate Republicans Continue to Refine Priority Education Bill

Feb 8, 2016

Kentucky Senate Republicans are still at work on their priority bill and it could be a few weeks before the measure is sent the floor.  Senate Bill 1 would create a new review structure for state education standards and student testing.  Senate President Robert Stivers says the legislation is undergoing further review.  “We’re still talking through it and working through it because it is an important policy change, but not only that but it is a big policy change,” said Stivers.

Kentucky Senate Passes Religious Freedom Bill

Feb 5, 2016

The Kentucky Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the so called ‘religious freedom’ bill.  Among other things, the measure would allow students in Kentucky elementary and secondary schools, as well as universities, to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in class assignments.  Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas cast an Aye vote Thursday.  “We ought to have freely as a society here in Kentucky the ability to express our religious opinions in schools, on the sports fields, in plays and whatever,” said Thomas.

Prohibition on Sale of Fetal Body Parts Passes Kentucky Senate

Jan 28, 2016


A measure to prohibit the sale of fetal body parts in Kentucky easily won approval Wednesday in the state Senate.  The sale of fetal body parts is already prohibited by federal law.

Kentucky Senate Adopts ‘Look-Back’ DUI Bill

Jan 21, 2016


The Kentucky Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation to double the period of time allowable to determine penalties for habitual drunk drivers. 

Kentucky Lawmakers May Again Discuss Capital Punishment

Jan 12, 2016

    Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky is once again before state lawmakers.  It’s unlikely the measure will be heard in the republican controlled senate.

This isn’t the first time veteran Louisville Senator Gerald Neal has filed legislation to do away with the state’s death penalty. And Neal says he’s waited as long as seven years to clear a bill in the general assembly.  “This is one of those kinds of bills cause it has a cultural base to it and change in this area is gonna be difficult,”  Neal said.

Senate Session Moving Slower Than 2015

Jan 12, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The pace in the Kentucky Senate during the 2016 session of the state general assembly is quite different from that of last year. During 2015’s 30 day session, senate republicans moved some of their priority measures during the first week.  Senate President Robert Stivers says it’s possible, but not likely, bills could make it to the floor by weeks’ end.  “We’re not under the time constraints that we were last year with the 30 day session.  We have a 60 day session this year, so we don’t feel pushed to move bills quickly,” said Stivers.


Kentucky senate members are expected to consider a joint resolution pertaining to concealed carry regulations in Virginia.  The matter looks to have strong bipartisan support in the 38 member chamber.

Kentucky Senate Adopts Comprehensive Heroin Legislation

Jan 8, 2015

The Kentucky Senate has adopted far reaching legislation to tackle the state's heroin-related problems.  It's unusual to see action on the floor of the first week of the so-called short session.  Among other things, the bill calls for allowing first responders access to a drug designed to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.