Session Update: 2 days left!

When it comes to the state budget, which the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved on Wednesday, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. No other legislation, however, better determines our priorities. It is, as one legislator said, our moral document.

I voted for it because I think it moves Kentucky in the right direction, a decision made even easier by the fact that it’s the first budget in 16 years not needing any cuts. At the same time, there are areas where I think improvements should have been made.

There are actually several budget bills, with one for each branch of government and others for transportation. Overall, they total about $118 billion, which includes state and federal revenues and restricted funds like college tuition that have to be spent where they’re generated.

About 90 percent of that money goes to four things: education, health and human services, criminal justice and capital projects like new buildings and repaved highways.

Since the start of the pandemic a little more than two years ago, the budget has benefited greatly from several federal stimulus packages, and one of the most sizable is the American Rescue Plan Act that became law in early 2021.

The General Assembly spends about $1.16 billion of our remaining ARPA funds in the upcoming budget, and within that total are $250 million for water/wastewater improvements; $242 million to help repay the federal loan used to cover unemployment insurance benefits at the height of the pandemic; $169 million for schools with urgent facility needs; and $75 million apiece to help non-profits and to boost tourism in the commonwealth.

Other big-ticket items scattered in the budget are $200 million to overhaul the state fairgrounds in Louisville; $170 million to do the same for many of our state parks; and $250 million for our already sizable “Rainy Day” fund, which is nearing $2 billion, a number far higher than it ever was pre-COVID.

I certainly support having strong reserves to cushion any future economic downturn, but I believe much of this additional deposit could have been better spent drying up the numerous rainy days we’ve already had. That’s especially true with monthly state revenues continuing to easily outpace projections.

Educators, for example, weren’t given raises at all in the budget, even as state workers are set to get an 8 percent salary increase next fiscal year and another as high as 12 percent in the budget’s second year. There are also additional, and deserved, salary bumps for social workers, Kentucky State Police personnel and Judicial Branch employees.

Republican leaders said schools could provide raises through the additional money the state is sending them, but given inflation and other costs, there’s no guarantee that this will happen. I believe the previous Republican House Speaker was correct when he tweeted this past week that not providing a much-deserved raise for teachers is “the biggest smackdown and slap to public education in history.”

State government retirees also won’t get a cost-of-living allowance – their last one was in 2011 – and first responders and frontline essential employees won’t get COVID-related bonuses that other states and communities have awarded.

In education, the budget continues funding all-day kindergarten, something that began in August. The state only paid for half-days before then, although most school districts covered the rest.

In addition to that extra money for kindergarten, per-pupil funding will rise from the current $4,000 to $4,100 next year and then $4,200 the year after that. On the downside, there is still no money for universal pre-K for four-year-olds, and schools also don’t have money for things like textbooks and professional development.

Under the broad heading of health and human services, the budget authorizes 100 additional slots for two programs that help Kentuckians with intellectual or developmental disabilities live more independently. This is definitely good news, but it is nowhere near enough to address waiting lists measuring in the thousands.

Other programs getting a sizable boost in the new budget are schools’ family resource and youth services centers, public health departments and employee-based childcare.

In transportation, the state’s Road Fund makes progress toward expanding the Mountain Parkway and building new Ohio River bridges in Northern and Western Kentucky.

Looking ahead, the General Assembly has approved a tax reform plan that’s similar, but less extensive, than what the state House originally proposed earlier this year. Assuming the current plan is enacted, the state’s flat five percent personal income tax rate is scheduled to drop by a half percentage point in 2023. To help fill in part of that gap, the 6 percent sales tax will be extended to an array of services, including most paid parking; ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft; photography services; renting spaces for events like weddings and conventions; and cosmetic surgery.

Over the long term, Republicans want consumption-based taxes to be the primary source of state revenues, and their tax-reform plan will move further in that direction if spending targets are met and legislators approve.

It is worth pointing out, however, that our current mix of sales, income and property taxes and lottery revenues has provided one of the most stable systems among the states this century, and that has insulated us during wide economic swings.

States without an income tax also have much higher sales taxes than ours on average, and they have built-in advantages, too. Alaska and Texas can rely on sizable energy reserves, while Florida and Tennessee have much larger tourism industries than ours.

There were of course many other bills approved by the General Assembly this year, and like the budget, they, too, will have a major impact on us going forward. I will cover those more in-depth in the next few weeks.

At the moment, other legislators and I are back home for what we call the veto recess. When we return to the Capitol on April 13th and 14th, we’ll review what bills have been vetoed by the Governor and decide whether any remaining ones should also become law.

I want to thank those who have reached out during this legislative session, and encourage you to keep letting me know your thoughts and concerns. My email is, and the toll-free messenger line is 1-800-372-7181. It’s open during normal business hours around the year.

Session Update: Week 7

Even before the General Assembly arrived at the Capitol in early January, everyone knew the biggest issues would be legislative redistricting, the state budget and tax reform.

The first two have followed predictable, if not always preferred, paths, but the parameters of tax reform have only started to take shape in the last few weeks.

On Friday morning, the House debated House Bill 8, which would have a profound and permanent impact on state revenues.  If enacted, it would send Kentucky into the same choppy waters that, as several other states have found, do not lead to smooth sailing.

The House approved the legislation on Friday, a mere week after it was introduced; and even as the bill was being debated, no one could accurately say what it would cost or offer more than anecdotal evidence that it would actually work. It had only been heard in committee the afternoon before, and multiple rules of procedure had to be waived in order to have the measure heard so quickly.

In short, the legislation would shift Kentucky’s revenues more toward sales taxes and away from the income tax, which provides 40 percent of our $14 billion annual budget.

House Bill 8 leans heavily on a billion-dollar surplus left unspent in the budget the House approved in January. That may be good for one year, but the costs in this bill are recurring and will dig a hole in state spending far faster than the bill’s revenue measures will ever fill it.

Those revenue measures would extend the six percent sales tax to about several dozen new services.  It would make us pay extra for such things as parking; having professional photos made; designing and hosting websites; renting space for a wedding or convention; storing a boat; and sending your child to camp.

The bill’s sponsors readily admit their goal is to emulate the nine states without an income tax.  They also acknowledge that it could be a long journey to get there.  Others and I argue that it’s also highly questionable whether this is the best route to take, because there are many reasons why a significant majority of states relies on a progressive taxing system.

It is important to point out that the nine states without an income tax evolved their policies over decades; their citizens pay more in other taxes – Tennessee taxes groceries, for example, while many communities pay almost 10 percent sales tax – and their economies rely on such industries as tourism that are not as prominent here.

At the same time, states without income taxes often spend less on critical programs and services like education.  A U.S. Census comparison of local, state and federal per-pupil funding showed that, in 2019, Kentucky spent $1,500 more annually on each student than what Tennessee, Texas and Florida spent.

Last fall, the highly reputable Pew Charitable Trusts said Kentucky had the second-most stable tax system between 2001 and 2020, trailing only South Dakota.  That predictability means we are much less likely to see wide swings in state revenues, something that helped immensely during the Great Recession and especially the first few months of the pandemic.

States that have moved in a similar direction have not always had an easy time.  Kansas’ ill-fated attempt in 2012 was essentially reversed five years later after massive budget cuts and the promise of economic growth didn’t materialize.

Other states trying to do something have taken a more cautious approach and still faced difficult times.  House Bill 8 does have trigger mechanisms so that future cuts beyond the first may be years away, but this ever-present financial cliff will make it that much more difficult for us to properly fund our schools and other critical programs in the future.

Moving away from an income tax creates true winners and losers. If you earn $1.4 million, you’re going to get about $11,000 back a year.  Most others who live paycheck-to-paycheck will see monthly savings measured in pennies or a couple of dollars. 

House Bill 8 is now in the hands of the state Senate, and if a compromise is reached, it will likely be in the final days of the legislative session, which must wrap up by mid-April.

On the same day this bill was approved, the House voted on its versions of the Judicial and Legislative branch budgets.  While both contain needed raises for state employees, the legislative budget includes a pay increase for House and Senate members serving in 2023 and beyond.  I supported an effort to remove, because I believe it is wrong for us to raise our salaries while severely cutting unemployment insurance and not giving teachers a raise.

Budgetary matters were not the only major issue last week.  The House also voted for a draconian anti-abortion bill that, if it becomes law, would all but stop this safe, legal procedure in Kentucky.

House Bill 3 would put unnecessary restrictions on abortion medicine sent through the mail; it will add requirements to obtain birth and death certificates for an abortion; it will make it tougher for minors to obtain an abortion while criminalizing doctors who don’t follow specific consent procedures in those cases; and it would add new but unnecessary reporting requirements designed to intimidate those they affect.

My colleagues and I spoke out strongly against this bill, which will put one of the safest medical procedures out of reach for the majority of women and your girls who need it. It will impact poor, black, brown, abused, and vulnerable women and girls in our Commonwealth the most. Every year, it seems, the legislature finds new and cruel ways to limit reproductive rights and invade privacy during one of the most trying times in someone’s life.  It shouldn’t have to be this way.

For now, the fate of these and many other bills is still unknown, but we will have final answers in most cases in just a few weeks.

I want to hear your thoughts on these issues, because that helps me immensely when it comes time to vote.  You can leave a toll-free message each weekday at 1-800-372-7181, while my email is  If you would like to know more about these and other bills, they can be found at Legislature.Ky.Gov

Session Update: Week 6

Last Monday may have been a holiday, but anyone following the proceedings in the Kentucky House of Representatives wouldn’t be able to tell.

After taking Presidents’ Day off, lawmakers returned to Frankfort on Tuesday for day 33 of the legislative session. Bills addressing police and tax reform advanced off the House floor while House committees heard a variety of bills that supporters say will protect Kentuckians from violent criminals.

On Tuesday, the House unanimously approved a bipartisan measure that would prohibit anyone convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense from becoming a peace officer.

Kentucky law currently prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from becoming or remaining a peace officer. House Bill 206 would add misdemeanor sexual offenses to the list. The bill would also automatically revoke the certification of a peace officer if he or she is convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense.

One of the bill’s sponsors said the measure is an extension of Senate Bills 80 and 52 from the 2021 legislative session. Both bills sought to reform what constitutes law enforcement misconduct in an effort to weed out “bad actors.”

HB 206 cleared the House by a 96-0 vote. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers continued to address law enforcement related issues on Wednesday with House Bill 414. Supporters of the bill said it will give local law enforcement agencies more flexibility to address the needs of employees and the communities they serve.

Within the last year, law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth have reported major staffing shortages and issues with retention. The House took up a bill earlier in the session related to Kentucky State Police salaries to help that agency recruit and retain officers. HB 414 would likewise help local law enforcement agencies.

When it comes to staffing concerns, HB 414 would remove the age ceiling for applicants. Under current statute, applicants must be between 18 and 45 years old. The bill would also allow local law enforcement agencies to operate under an 80-hour, 14-day work period instead of a 40-hour, seven-day work period.

Critics of the bill expressed concerns about the 80-hour, 14-day work period and how some officers may end up working more than 10 hours a day, which could lead to mistakes and accidents.

The bill’s sponsor said these provisions should give local law enforcement agencies more flexibility if an incident requires a long investigation.

Another provision of the bill seeks to strengthen the reputation of police and fire departments by amending the disciplinary process to allow more time for complaints against law enforcement officers to be filed.

Under this provision, the window to file a complaint would be extended from three days to 10 days. The bill would then give the mayor, city manager or legislative body 10 days instead of five days to file charges if there is probable cause.

The House approved HB 414 by an 85-12 vote. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.

HB 206 and HB 414 were not the only pieces of legislation related to first responders taken up by the House this week.

The Lifeliner’s Act, or House Bill 79, would allow telecommunicators to be eligible participants in the Law Enforcement Professional Development and Wellness Program. This bipartisan measure would also require telecommunicators to undergo basic training on post-traumatic stress disorder and work-induced stress.

Resources for how to receive treatment for PTSD and work-induced stress would also be required under this bill.

HB 79 advanced off the House floor unanimously. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.

Tax reform

When it comes to the topic of tax reform, lawmakers say they’re working on multiple bills that would put more money in the pockets of hard working Kentuckians while diversifying the tax base to give local governments and the state more revenue options.

One way to give local governments more tax options could soon lie in the hands of voters. House Bill 475 cleared the House floor by an 80-17 vote this week.

The bipartisan measure would allow Kentuckians to vote on a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the power to allow local governments to implement new types of taxes.

Currently, Section 181 of the Kentucky Constitution limits the types of taxes local governments can charge. Supporters of the bill said most cities, counties and municipalities survive on occupational tax and property tax revenue, which is an issue for many communities.

Changing the constitution would give the General Assembly the power to approve legislation that would allow local governments to implement a 1% local sales tax, for example.

Supporters of the bill say changing the state constitution is essential if the legislature wants to be successful in implementing comprehensive tax reform.

The bill now lies in the hands of the Senate. If HB 475 clears that chamber and gains the governor’s signature, Kentucky voters will decide on the proposed change to the constitution during the November 2022 general election.

If voters approve, supporters of HB 475 have filed another bill— House Bill 476– that would keep the status quo until lawmakers return in January 2023 for the next legislative session.

Critics of HB 475 worry changing the constitution might put a burden on low income individuals and families. Supporters of the bill disagree, adding it would allow local governments to ease off increasing occupational and property taxes and instead implement other types of taxes that would tax other individuals, such as tourists.

HB 476 cleared the House floor by an 86-11 vote. The bill is now before the Senate for consideration.

In committee

House committees addressed a number of issues this week. All of these bills were approved by their respective committees and are now before the full House for consideration.

House Judiciary Committee: House Bill 313 would issue new guidelines for charitable bail organizations.

The bill would prevent charitable bail organizations from posting more than $5,000 in bail for anyone charged with a crime. The bill would also limit the types of individuals the organizations can post bail for. Individuals charged with a domestic violence-related or dating-violence related crimes and individuals held under a civil court order would not be eligible to be bailed out by charitable bail organizations.

Another provision of HB 313 would also require charitable bail organizations to keep track of who is donating to the organization and who the organization helps. This information would be required to be posted publicly and submitted annually to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary.

If the organization posts bail for an individual who commits another offense, HB 313 would also require the bail to be forfeited to the victim of the new crime.

The House Judiciary Committee also approved House Bill 488 this week. The bill would make a second violation or subsequent violation of an order of protection a Class D felony.

House State Government Committee: As Black History Month comes to a close, lawmakers are considering a plan to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Last year, the federal government made June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of the last group of enslaved Black Americans who were living in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War. House Bill 133 would add Juneteenth to the list of federal holidays recognized by the state.

The House State Government Committee also approved House Bill 43 this week. The bill would prohibit a governmental entity from prohibiting religious services during an emergency to a greater extent than imposed on other organizations or businesses that provide essential services.

The Kentucky General Assembly will convene for the 37th day of the 2022 legislative session at 4 p.m. Monday.

Tuesday is the last day for lawmakers to file new bills in the House, and Thursday is the last day to file new bills in the Senate.

Session Update: Halfway Point

Are we there yet? Not quite, but we’re getting closer.

The first 30 days of the 60-day 2022 legislative session have flown by. Time is ticking as lawmakers in the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate work quickly to meet Tuesday’s deadline for bill requests.

More than 500 bills have been introduced on the House floor since the first legislative day on Jan. 4. While not every bill will receive a committee hearing or come to a vote on the House floor, 24 pieces of legislation were heard in the House just this week.

A bill that I have worked on since 2019 passed the House unanimously on Friday. House Bill 222, which is the first anti-SLAPP legislation introduced in Kentucky. The Uniform Public Expression Protection Act safeguards the First Amendment in courts by creating a special motion to dismiss certain civil lawsuits that are used strategically to intimidate, censor or silence those who speak out against a matter of public interest or concern.

These are called strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP. The goal of these lawsuits is to silence the person speaking out by burdening them with a lawsuit that is costly to fight.

This bill has been developed and improved through numerous discussions with attorneys, legal scholars, and stakeholders, and addresses many complicated concerns about the judicial process. I am thankful to my colleagues who voted to pass this important legislation, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. This was truly a bipartisan effort, and I am hopeful that this collaborative spirit continues throughout this session.

You can read the final bill here.

View the full presentation and my remarks here (starting at the 23:30 mark).

I wrote more about this bill during the 2021 Interim Session here.

On Tuesday, House members debated House Bill 63 and the merits of school resource officers (SROs). HB 63 is a follow up to Senate Bill 1 (the School Safety and Resiliency Act) from the 2019 Regular Session. SB 1 required school districts to assign at least one SRO to each school in a district as funds and qualified personnel become available.

HB 63 would require schools who can place an SRO at each school to do so by Aug. 1. If sufficient funds and qualified personnel are not available, the bill directs the school district to work with the state school security marshal at the state Center for School Safety to address those issues.

I voted against this measure after hearing from teachers and students in our district who would not feel safer having armed officers at school, as well reviewing data on the disproportionate disciplinary treatment of students of color. The bill also undercuts local decision-making and creates another unfunded mandate for our already stretched school districts. HB 63 cleared the House floor by a 78-17 vote.

I also voted against House Bill 4, which would cut the time that Kentuckians can collect unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to as little as 12 weeks under certain circumstances, and forces them to accept positions in a one-size-fits-all approach.

I voted against this measure because it penalizes those who are actively looking for work, and assumes that people can be plugged in to open jobs without regard to wage rate, job requirements, education/experience, or career goals. The bill also disregards those Kentuckians with disabilities who may need supportive employment as well as second chance employment for those with prior records. Colleagues in rural areas spoke out strongly against this measure as well, citing a lack of jobs in their communities.

The House voted on several other measures that I supported, which will now advance to the Senate, including:

House Bill 250— This bill would allow the state to loan $23 million to Kentucky State University to help the struggling university meet its financial obligations this fiscal year. HB 250 directs the Council on Postsecondary Education to create and oversee a management improvement plan and a loan repayment plan for KSU. The bill moves to the full Senate for consideration after an 82-7 vote in the House.

House Bill 220— Intimidation of a sports official would become a Class A misdemeanor under this bill. This includes threatening, injuring or causing physical damage to the property of a sports official. The House approved this bill by an 89-6 vote.

House Bill 397— This bill would allow the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education to waive up to 15 student attendance days for school districts in the major disaster declaration counties impacted by December’s tornados. This bill passed unanimously.

It’s impossible to predict what will become law and what will have to wait another year in the handful of weeks the General Assembly has left.  The only thing I know for sure is that your input is crucial in this process.

You can always leave me a message each weekday at 1-800-372-7181, and my email is If you would like to read the bills I’ve mentioned, they can be found at Legislature.Ky.Gov.

Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday on Feb. 21, the Kentucky General Assembly will not convene on Monday. Both chambers return to Frankfort Tuesday and will reconvene at 4 p.m.

Session Update: Week 3

Another cold, snowy week in the Commonwealth has come and gone. And so has the third week of the 2022 Regular Session.

Legislators returned to Frankfort on Tuesday after taking Monday off to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The short week was bookended by bipartisan legislation related to student mental health and the next biennial budget.

On Thursday, the House approved House Bill 1, the proposed executive branch budget, and House Bill 241, the proposed transportation budget. This is the first time since 2018 that the legislature plans to approve a two-year budget. Economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to shorter sessions and approval of one-year budgets in 2020 and 2021.

Sponsors of HB 1 and HB 241 believe the measures appropriately address Kentucky’s needs and make good use of taxpayer money. If you count every tax dollar that flows through state government – a figure that includes state and federal sources as well as restricted funds such as college tuition – the two-year total for the 2022-2024 budget cycle amounts to more than $118 billion. Bill sponsors said eight months of working with other lawmakers, various agencies, stakeholders and citizens went into drafting the proposals.

The proposed executive branch budget is expansive, and appropriations include investments in education, public safety, tourism, infrastructure and more.

As proposed, HB 1 does the following:

  • Fully funds full-day Kindergarten for every public school district
  • Increases SEEK funding for every student
  • Meets the actuarial requirements regarding the Kentucky Retirement System, the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and the Kentucky State Police Retirement System
  • Gives a 6% pay raise to all state employees
  • Gives a $15,000 salary increase to all Kentucky State Police officers
  • Allocates $350 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds toward clean water projects
  • Funds raises for social workers and provides funding for additional social worker positions
  • Provides funding for facility repairs and improvements at public colleges and universities
  • Ensures funding for Medicaid growth
  • Appropriates $14.1 million to expand the senior meals program, and more

Sponsors of the proposed transportation budget say it would provide $100 million for local governments for repaving roads and fixing potholes, $200 million to match federal infrastructure grants and more.

This week’s House votes on the executive and transportation budgets are merely procedural so lawmakers can work on the bills in conference committee. It is likely these bills will undergo changes before the General Assembly considers them again later on in the legislative session.

The most important item missing from HB 1 is teacher raises. Instead, the state increases SEEK funding and covers more transportation costs, which would free-up money that districts can use for raises at their discretion. I would like to see teacher raises codified as they were for almost all other state workers, and am hopeful changes may be made in conference committee.

The House adopted the proposed executive branch budget by an 85-8 vote and the proposed transportation budget by a 90-4 vote. I voted for the budget bill because it included many broad areas of funding that I support, and will work to ensure that any overlooked areas will be reconciled as it is being finalized.

The Senate will take both bills into consideration before the formation of the conference committees.

Also this week

  • On Tuesday, the House unanimously adopted House Bill 44. This student-led effort and bipartisan bill would require local school districts to revise their attendance policies to allow a student’s mental or behavioral health status to qualify as an excused absence. The bill’s sponsors hope it will ease the stigma surrounding mental health. I wholeheartedly support this bill and voted to pass in in the House. HB 44 will now go before the Senate for consideration.
  • On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee approved House Bill 308. The measure, otherwise known as the Kentucky Rural Jobs Act of 2022, would allow insurance premium tax credits for capital investment companies that invest in small businesses in rural Kentucky. These businesses often have difficulty obtaining a loan or attracting investors on their own. In committee, I questioned whether there are any protections for existing Kentucky small businesses versus those that relocate to take advantage of the tax credit. There are not, and I have followed up with the sponsors to ensure oversight of this important allocation. The bill will now go before the House for consideration.
  • On Thursday, the House and Senate voted to override gubernatorial vetoes on House Bill 2, which establishes a new House district map, and Senate Bill 3, which establishes a new Congressional map.
  • Also on Thursday, the House State Government Committee approved House Bill 69, which would extend the executive order related to temporary disability from occupational exposure to COVID-19 from Sept. 7, 2021, to Jan. 31, 2023. The measure will now go before the House for consideration.

This coming week should see a return to more routine work as our committees continue approving a wide array of bills. We will reconvene on Monday at 4pm, and I will update you further on that work next time. For now, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any thoughts or concerns about this year’s legislative session.  The toll-free message line 1-800-372-7181, while my email is

Session Update: Week 1

The 156th session of the Kentucky General Assembly kicked off on January 4th, and legislators have two primary legislative priorities to resolve before it ends on April 14th. The first is state and congressional redistricting, and the second is passing the first full, two-year spending plan since 2018.


The first week of session was spent addressing the first priority: Redistricting. So what is it?

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a head count of everyone in the U.S. Based on this count, new legislative and Congressional district maps are drawn, reflecting changes in our population and its demographics, to make sure that there is equal representation. The Census is directly tied to our representation in elected office, and is a vital foundation of our democracy.

Data from the 2020 census, delayed by the pandemic, was just released this August.

The results of the 2020 Census showed that many counties in the Commonwealth experienced dramatic shifts in population, requiring the state to update the state legislative and U.S. Congressional district maps. Generally, Eastern and Western Kentucky lost population, while there were gains made around Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Northern Kentucky.

Unfortunately, Kentucky does not have an independent redistricting commission, so legislators basically draw their own maps. In an ideal world, there would be no political bias (such as protecting incumbents or making districts more politically viable for a given political party). In practice, redistricting is an intensely politicized process, and the fear is always that the end result will be that political parties choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their representatives.

Our Constitution requires ensuring districts are contiguous and compact. In addition, district maps cannot violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits racial gerrymandering that would in any way disenfranchise minority voters.

On December 30th, Republicans revealed essentially outlines of their proposed maps, which looked like this:

An unofficial, but much more detailed map of the new 40th District looks like this:

There have been many changes made to District 40, and the easiest way to check if you are in the new district is by checking your precinct number.

The list below is of precincts that are part of the new District 40:

Precincts remaining in the 40th District:

K110 – Precinct 110 40 District

K111 – Precinct 111 40 District

K112 – Precinct 112 40 District

K113 – Precinct 113 40 District

K114 – Precinct 114 40 District

K116 – Precinct 116 40 District

K117 – Precinct 117 40 District

K118 – Precinct 118 40 District

K119 – Precinct 119 40 District

K122 – Precinct 122 40 District

K123 – Precinct 123 40 District

K125 – Precinct 125 40 District

K131 – Precinct 131 40 District

K134 – Precinct 134 40 District

K135 – Precinct 135 40 District

K136 – Precinct 136 40 District

K137 – Precinct 137 40 District

K140 – Precinct 140 40 District

K141 – Precinct 141 40 District

K142 – Precinct 142 40 District

K143 – Precinct 143 40 District

K150 – Precinct 150 40 District

K151 – Precinct 151 40 District

Precincts Added from the prior 35th District:

H114 – Precinct 114 35 District

H115 – Precinct 115 35 District

H153 – Precinct 153 35 District

Precincts Added from the prior 37th District:

I107 – Precinct 107 37 District

I109 – Precinct 109 37 District

Precincts Added from the prior 38th District:

J101 – Precinct 101 38 District

J104 – Precinct 104 38 District

J107 – Precinct 107 38 District

J130 – Precinct 130 38 District

J146 – Precinct 146 38 District

J147 – Precinct 147 38 District

J154 – Precinct 154 38 District

Precincts Added from the prior 42nd District:

M105 – Precinct 105 42 District

M130 – Precinct 130 42 District

M148 – Precinct 148 42 District

M166 – Precinct 166 42 District

M169 – Precinct 169 42 District

M170 – Precinct 170 42 District

M171 – Precinct 171 42 District

Precincts Added from the prior 44th District:

O123 – Precinct 123 44 District

House Bill 2, which passed the House on Thursday and the Senate on Saturday, finalized the new House district maps. In addition, House Bill 179 establishes a new Kentucky Supreme Court district map. Both bills received final passage by the General Assembly on Saturday.

Lawmakers also approved on Saturday Senate Bill 2, which establishes a new Senate district map, and Senate Bill 3, which establishes a new Congressional district map. All four bills will now be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

I voted no on these maps due to the lack of public transparency and input in the redistricting process. It is simply not good government to rush through something which will have such a profound impact on democracy for the next decade in our Commonwealth.

Legislators also passed House Bill 172 this week, which moves the candidate filing deadline for every candidate filing for the 2022 primary election to Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. The original deadline was Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. This one-time postponement of the candidate filing deadline was to give lawmakers time to approve the new district maps and give candidates time to see the new maps before they file.

HB 172 was approved by an 84-12 vote in the House on Wednesday and by a 28-4 vote in the Senate on Thursday. Gov. Andy Beshear promptly signed the bill into law, which went into effect immediately due to an emergency clause attached to the bill. I voted for this bill because I believe that candidates should be able to fully assess their decision to run for elected office, with all available information and in all fairness.


As for the budget, Kentucky lawmakers typically vote on spending plans during even-numbered years. In 2020, economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic led legislators to pass two one-year budgets in 2020 and 2021.

This year, we hope to get back on the normal budget schedule, and will have 60 legislative days with an April 15 deadline to approve a budget for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 fiscal years.

House Bill 1, the executive branch budget; House Bill 241, the transportation budget; and House Bill 244, the judicial branch budget were all filed on Friday.

The Governor’s budget address to lawmakers will take place on Thursday, January 13th.


The Senate Standing Committee on Education heard testimony on two bills this week: Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 25.

SB 1 is an act relating to school councils. Supporters of the bill say it will give the community more say in things like curriculum and principal selection. SB 25 would give school districts 10 more remote instruction days to use per school for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. It also contains provisions to address staffing concerns in public schools.

Both bills were approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. The Senate approved SB 1 by a 25-9 vote on Saturday. It will now go to the House for consideration.

We are back to work on Jan. 10 for the sixth legislative day.

You can keep up with bills and votes by visiting the General Assembly’s website (  To leave a message for me or any other legislator (or all of us), you can call 1-800-372-7181.  This service is available during normal business hours throughout the year, but is open longer during legislative sessions.

If you would like to watch legislative proceedings, KET has an app for that, and you can also search for “LRC livestreaming” which will take you to the website where you can access meetings as they happen.  All are also archived.

In addition to leaving me a phone message, you also the have the option to email me at

I look forward to hearing from you!

Special Session

On September 7th, the General Assembly was called in to a Special Legislative Session in response to a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court in August, which allowed the legislature to significantly limit a governor’s executive authority to impose emergency health measures during the pandemic, including indoor mask mandates for K-12 schools, preschools and child care facilities.

The House and Senate met for three days, ending their work just before midnight on Thursday.  By the time the final gavel fell, the General Assembly had approved five bills and one joint resolution:

House Joint Resolution 1: Extending state of emergency to January 15, 2022

Senate Bill 1: Nullifying mask mandates statewide 

Not surprisingly, most of the debate centered on Governor Beshear’s and the Kentucky Department of Education’s ability to require face coverings, especially in schools and daycares.  I believe that’s an important tool, especially when the number of positive cases is starting to exceed 5,000 a day.

The legislation takes that statewide authority away, but maintains it locally.  All but 6 school districts in Kentucky, including our largest, have already said they plan to keep the masking requirements in place as it is CDC protocol for children ages two and up.

Schools will also be able to opt into test-to-stay programs that will ease the number of students and staff needing to quarantine if exposed.  This will help, but it likely will not be available where there are already critical medical shortages.  The cost could be prohibitive, too; statewide, expenses could exceed $60 million a week.

School Districts will have more remote-learning days to use and more flexibility in how they are implemented.  An attempt to make this fairer for large districts was turned down, however, meaning a system as large as Jefferson County Public Schools – with more than 150 facilities – will still lose a day of remote instruction even if only one classroom in one school needs it.

The legislation also extends many previously issued emergency executive orders, including easing rules so qualified out-of-state medical personnel can work in the commonwealth and public retirees and retired teachers can return to jobs where the need is greatest without sacrificing benefits.

Senate Bill 2: Banning future statewide mask mandates and nursing home visitor prohibitions

Senate Bill 2 declares the statewide facemask mandate void but encourage vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and greater access to monoclonal antibody treatments, such as Regeneron. I attempted to add an amendment that would provide a pause to organizations throughout the Commonwealth who are providing rental funds directly to landlords. This amendment was defeated on procedural grounds, but I will be introducing legislation that would allow for the backlog of over $300 million unused federal dollars to be disbursed as quickly as possible.

Senate Bill 2 also:

  • Requires Kentucky’s public universities to develop and initiate public awareness campaigns encouraging people to get vaccinated. One focus will be on developing partnerships with athletes, coaches and health care providers to promote the vaccine’s benefits.
  • Assists health care providers, jails, prisons, homeless shelters and local health departments in acquiring COVID-19 tests.
  • Makes it easier to administer the vaccine at the offices of primary care physicians.
  • Allows paramedics to work in hospitals to relieve a nursing shortage.
  • establishes safety protocols for so-called essential compassionate care visitors in long-term care facilities during pandemic-induced lockdowns. They could be a family member, legal guardian or close friend.

Senate Bill 3: Appropriating $69 million of ARPA funds for pandemic

These funds will be redirected to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services to help health care providers, schools and others to implement provisions of SB 1 and SB 2. These include the purchase of COVID-19 tests, the establishment of regional monoclonal antibody treatment centers and test-to-stay programs in schools.

Senate Bill 4: No legislator compensation for veto days in special session

Senate Bill 5: Funding to lure Hardin County economic development project 

This bill appropriated $410 million of the $1.7 billion surplus towards economic incentives for projects valued at $2 billion or more. I passed on this bill in committee, and was the only one to do so, because I believe that we are stewards of taxpayer money and must have as much information as possible before appropriating funds like this towards economic development projects. Braidy Industries was fresh in most legislators’ minds. Ultimately, I voted for the bill, primarily because of the multiple levels of oversight and reporting built in to the legislation. I will continue to monitor how these funds are being used to ensure that we actually receive the economic development benefits touted with this bill.

There were benefits and shortcomings in all of these bills, and I welcome your thoughts or comments about the special legislative session.  My email is, while the toll-free message line for all state legislators is 1-800-372-7181.