Kentucky Politics

Kentucky lawmakers will return for the final two days of this year’s legislative session on Monday and Tuesday to consider overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes and passing more bills.

Over the last week, Beshear vetoed 27 bills, including a sweeping school choice measure, a bill stripping his power to fill U.S. Senate vacancies and several items in the one-year state budget.

But with Republicans controlling more than 75% of seats in the legislature, overriding Beshear’s vetoes will be easy, for the most part. It only takes a constitutional majority—half the seats, plus one, in each chamber—to override a Kentucky governor’s veto.

Lawmakers will also take up several bills that didn’t make it across the finish line before Beshear’s veto period, like measures limiting no-knock warrants, making changes to Kentucky elections and providing Louisville’s new civilian review board with subpoena power.

But legislators won’t have a chance to override any of Beshear’s vetoes of bills that pass on these final two days. They’re required to adjourn for the year at the end of Tuesday.

Here’s some of what’s on the legislature’s plate in the final two days:

School Choice Bill

Lawmakers will consider overriding Beshear’s veto of House Bill 563, which would create a $25 million tax credit program for people who donate to education opportunity accounts. The accounts could be used on private school tuition in the state’s largest counties.

Beshear vetoed the bill, saying it was unconstitutional by undermining the state’s school funding system.

But supporters of the measure might have a hard time overriding Beshear’s veto. It only passed out of the House with a vote of 48-47, with a third of Republicans and all but one Democrat opposing it.

Overriding a veto in the House takes 51 votes.

No-Knock Warrants

Lawmakers will consider reviving Senate Bill 4, the measure limiting no-knock warrants, which didn’t pass ahead of Beshear’s veto break.

The measure would restrict no-knock warrants to searches involving alleged violent crime, and require them to be executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. by specially-trained police with body cameras.

Republican leaders of the legislature rallied around the measure after declining to take up Democratic Rep. Attica Scott’s more extensive proposal, Breonna’s Law For Kentucky.

The bill awaits a final vote in the House, but advocates have sounded alarms on proposed amendments that would expand when no-knock warrants can be issued.

One amendment would allow no-knocks to be executed in drug cases involving fentanyl, while another would extend the time when warrants can be executed to midnight.

The bill was filed in reaction to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police executing a search warrant in the middle of the night.

Elections

The bipartisan election reform bill nearly passed out of the legislature before Beshear’s veto period, but the House still has to agree to changes made by the Senate at the last minute.

The bill would create three days of early in-person voting for all Kentuckians and allow counties to create “vote centers” where anyone from the county can cast their votes.

The measure also includes election security measures like a ban on “ballot harvesting” and making it easier for the secretary of state to remove people from the voting rolls if they’ve moved out of state.

Changes to the bill would require counties to get approval from the State Board of Elections before creating a “vote center.”

Louisville Civilian Review Board

Lawmakers still haven’t revealed whether or how they will provide Louisville’s new civilian review board with subpoena power, which can only be granted by the legislature.

Before the veto break, lawmakers stripped language from House Bill 309 that provided the board with subpoena power, as long as it was approved by the Louisville Metro Council’s Oversight and Audit Committee.

Louisville leaders and lawmakers have fought over how directly the board should be able to compel testimony and documents as they investigate the city’s police department.

The Metro Council created the civilian review board last year following months of protests against racism and police violence.

City officials have promised for decades to create a civilian review board that can effectively oversee police, but the efforts repeatedly fail after the board doesn’t get effective subpoena power.

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