The 2022 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly was the last session for a number of legislators who have announced their retirement.
All of the retiring lawmakers say they’ll hold on to their seats for the rest of their current terms, which end early next year.
Redistricting, making room for new candidates and spending time with family have all been cited as reasons for legislators to not seek reelection this year.
The retirements won’t drastically change the political makeup of the legislature, which currently includes 75 Republicans and 25 Democrats in the House; and 30 Republicans and 8 Democrats in the Senate.
But the wave of retirements means there are several open elections across the state, with no incumbents on the ballot in many districts.
Minutes after the session ended Thursday evening, Republican House Majority Whip Chad McCoy, of Bardstown, announced he won’t seek reelection. First elected in 2016, McCoy is ending his legislative career after successfully pushing through a bill that will allow charter schools to get off the ground in Kentucky.
McCoy was also behind another landmark education privatization measure: the Education Opportunity Act of 2021, which created a tax-credit program to fund scholarships for low and middle-income families to attend private school and cover other educational expenses. That program is currently blocked by a judge, who ruled it unconstitutional. Private school advocates are appealing.
“It’s an incredible privilege to serve Bardstown and Nelson County in the House and I’m grateful to this community for placing their trust in me,” McCoy said in an emailed press release. “I’ve said all along that I have no intention to become a career politician and the time has come to move on to the next chapter.”
Two Republicans filed to run for McCoy’s seat, but no Democrat filed. That means the winner of the Republican primary for House District 50 on May 17 will run unopposed in the General Election.
McCoy is among 14 House members who are retiring. Others include Republican House Education Committee Chair Regina Huff, of Williamsburg, House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins, of Louisville, and Democratic Rep. Attica Scott, of Louisville, who is running for U.S. Congress.
In the Senate, six lawmakers have announced retirements, including Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington. Kerr is one of the legislature’s more moderate Republicans. She was reelected six times to her seat in the legislature. In recent years she sponsored bills to ban conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. She is the sister of the late Larry Forgy, the charismatic Republican who unsuccessfully ran for governor three times.
Democratic Sen. Dennis Parrett, of Elizabethtown, announced he won’t seek reelection this year. Republicans hope to pick up the seat, which would mean the Senate would have no Democratic districts outside of Lexington and Louisville.
Here’s a full list of members who have announced retirements:
Jim DuPlessis, Elizabethtown, served since 2015
Joe Fischer, Fort Thomas, served since 1999
Melinda Gibbons Prunty, Belton, served since 2017
Regina Huff, Williamsburg, served since 2012
Chad McCoy, Bardstown, served since 2016
Jerry T. Miller, Eastwood, served since 2015
Bart Rowland, Tompkinsville, served since 2012
Steve Sheldon, Bowling Green, served since 2019
Attica Scott, Louisville, served since 2017
McKenzie Cantrell, Louisville, served since 2017
Kelly Flood, Lexington, served since 2009
Joni Jenkins, Shively, served since 1995
Mary Lou Marzian, Louisville, served since 1994
Susan Westrom, Lexington, served since 1999
Matt Castlen,Owensboro, served since 2019
C.B. Embry, Jr., Morgantown, served in the Senate since 2015. Served in the House from 2003-2014
Alice Forgy Kerr, Lexington, served since 1999
Will Schroder is from Wilder, served since 2015
Paul Hornback, Shelbyville, served since 2011
Dennis Parrett, Elizabethtown, served since 2011
Ryland Barton contributed to this reporting.