Week One of the 2021 Legislative Sesson
Part 1 of the current legislative session was adjourned on Wednesday, January 13. A constitutionally required recess now takes place until February 2, when the General Assembly will convene for Part 2 of the session in odd-numbered years. Part 1 was extended for four days due to work on the budget. In an unusual precedent, the legislature did not pass a two year budget in 2020 due to the pandemic. After the governor’s recorded budget address last Thursday, bills were introduced in the House to approve a one year budget until 2022. HB 192 (executive branch budget), HB 193 (transportation budget), HB 194 (legislative branch budget), and HB 195 (judicial branch budget) were all passed by both chambers. However, the Senate had added some changes to the budgets, which were rejected by the House. Compromises will be agreed upon in committees when the legislature reconvenes in February. For information on the bills, as well as amendments and substitutions, go to legislature.ky.gov to view all bills. Most of the legislative budget is similar to the one passed in 2020.
SB 1 and SB 2 passed both chambers during Part 1. Both bills address executive orders and administrative regulations. The legislature has passed bills that allow the governor to make mandates lasting 30 days, and then mandates would expire. Both bills curtail the governor regulating political, religious, or social gatherings, and include the functions of schools, businesses, and non-profits for 30 days. After 30 days only the General Assembly can extend orders regulating quarantines. Both bills have been forwarded to the governor, where it is expected he will veto them. It is also expected that the General Assembly will override his veto when they reconvene in February with a super majority of Republicans in both chambers. These bills have emergency clauses, which would make them effective immediately, as soon as they are overridden, if that proceeds.
Included in the bills are provisions giving employers more time to pay unemployment insurance taxes without penalty. Another provision prohibits the Cabinet for Health and Family Services from suspending valid court orders for in-person visitation of children in state custody or foster care. The bill also requires the Cabinet to develop guidelines allowing visitation for long-term facilities and terminally ill patients, and to prevent restrictions of patients who require help from family members. Several speeches from the floors of both chambers highlighted that KY citizens have issued a “tremendous outcry” for relief from the state of emergency. Legislators have stated the need for keeping citizens safe, but there exists a need for emotional and financial safety. Democratic legislators suggested there were other ways to open businesses and schools, but no other plans were proposed or offered in bills at this time.
Legislation has been filed regarding the TRS pension system. HB 258 was filed which re-constructs retirement benefits for new hires after January 1, 2022. KAPE members received some information in the survey that was sent in December. HB 113 was also filed which makes changes in disability retirement, as well as return-to-work provisions for retirees. Both bills were assigned to the State Government committee for consideration on January 13. KAPE will follow the progress of the bills. You can find the summary and entirety of the bills on the legislative website at legislature.ky.gov.
KAPE does not support or oppose legislation. This email is for informational purposes only. Information for this email was collected from official press releases by LRC staff Jordan Hensley, Robert Weber, and Jim Hannah.