Kentucky Politics

The Kentucky legislature won’t meet this week due to a series of winter storm events across the state.

Lawmakers are at the halfway point during this year’s 30 working-day session and the closure means they have to adjust the official meeting calendar.

Legislators will return for the session’s 15th working day on Monday. The deadline to file bills will now be Tuesday, Feb. 23 and the legislature will be in session on some days previously designated as “drafting days.”

The legislature is still required to adjourn by March 30, per the state constitution.

As of Tuesday, the winter storm knocked out power for about 145,000 Kentucky households, according to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office. More winter weather events are expected to roll in later this week, prolonging dangerous road conditions across the state.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly spent most of the first half of this year’s session passing bills that curtail Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers, especially his emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers still need to pass a one-year budget, a process that is trickier than usual because of economic uncertainties amid the pandemic.

So far the legislature has only advanced a “placeholder budget,” which continues state spending at the same level over the past year.

Lawmakers could consider several other proposals, including moving future teachers into a “hybrid” pension plan, banning no-knock search warrants, legalizing medical marijuana and banning anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy.

The public is also waiting for details of an election reform bill promised to be unveiled earlier this week, ahead of the original filing deadline, but delayed due to the closure.

Though the measure has been reviewed and supported by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, both Republicans, the bill still hasn’t been filed — and its contents haven’t been revealed.

The closure will also delay the Kentucky House Impeachment Committee, which is still reviewing citizen petitions to remove Gov. Beshear and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The committee dismissed a petition filed against Republican Rep. Robert Goforth last week.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.