Kentucky Association of Counties

KACo Logo

The Kentucky Association of Counties


County Champion


County News

2020 Legislative Session Update: Week 1

Photo: LRC Public Information -- FRANKFORT, January 7 -- House Majority Whip Chad McCoy,R-Bardstown (left), speaks with House Minority FloorLeader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, on the first day ofsession in the House.
By Shellie Hampton
Welcome to the 2020 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

2020 General Assembly

Regular Session Legislative Update

Week 1 (Legislative Days 1-4)

January 7-10

Known as the long session, the legislature has up to 60 working days spread out over a little more than 90 days, to complete its work. That includes the crux of all long sessions: reaching consensus on a biennial budget for the state, the road plan, transportation cabinet funding and the judicial branch, all of which affect counties.

You can expect a weekly update during session, highlighting the work of the legislature and how county governments are impacted by the action that week. In addition to this content, you will also receive Action Alerts as needed, urging you to contact your legislators for their support of the position counties take on a particular bill. You are the best advocate for what your county needs from the legislature. Stay informed by following us on Twitter @KACo, on Facebook @KACo, and our legislative news website, On The Floor.


The first week of the 60-day long session—odd-year sessions last 30 days—saw both chambers gavel in Tuesday at noon. On that first day, House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade (R-Lincoln, Pulaski) led a moment of silence in prayer for Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney (R-Taylor, Adair) as he continues to recover from a severe case of pancreatitis.

The House announced some rules changes, including doing away with the process of passing bills on the consent calendar. Bunching together bills in one vote is no longer allowed. "Going forward, all bills that come to the House floor will be voted on individually," Meade said. 

In addition to Speaker Osborne, Speaker Pro Tem Meade and Majority Floor Leader Carney, the leadership of the House also includes Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles (R-Daviess, Henderson, Union) and Majority Whip Chad McCoy (R-Nelson).

History was made in the House as Democrats elected Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Jefferson) the first female Minority Floor Leader. The position became vacant after former Leader Rocky Adkins resigned to take a position with Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive team. Leader Jenkins is joined by returning Minority Caucus Chair Derrick Graham (D-Franklin) and Rep. Angie Hatton (D-Letcher, Pike), who will replace Jenkins as Minority Whip.

Returning to their posts in Senate majority leadership are President Robert Stivers II (R-Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe), Sen. David Givens (R-Allen, Barren, Green, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson) as Speaker Pro Tempore; Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Grant, Kenton, Scott); Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Jefferson), Caucus Chair and Whip Mike Wilson (R-Warren).

Senate Democratic leadership remains the same as last session with Sen. Morgan McGarvey, (D-Jefferson) Minority Floor Leader, along with Sen. Johnny Ray Turner (D-Floyd, Harlan, Knott, Letcher) as Minority Caucus Chair and Sen. Dennis Parrett (D-Hardin, Jefferson) as Minority Whip.

Committee membership remains largely the same in both the House and the Senate. Many bills affecting counties will see their start in each chamber’s Local Government committees. The Senate State and Local Government committee is chaired by Sen. Wil Schroder (R-Bracken, Campbell, Pendleton). The House Local Government Committee chair is Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Edmonson, Warren).


As noted earlier, the biennial state budget is the top priority of the legislature in every even-numbered session. After his election, Gov. Beshear and his transition team received a memo from then-State Budget Director John Chilton that reported an expected $1 billion+ state budget shortfall for the 2020-22 biennium, due to lower-than-expected revenues and needs in Medicare, pensions, corrections and elsewhere. With one of Beshear’s priorities of a $2,000 raise to every public school teacher, all await the Budget Address on Jan. 28, 2020, when he will unveil his solutions to pay for that and other priorities.

But first, the governor will deliver his State of the Commonwealth address Jan. 13, 2020, at 8 p.m. EST. The address will be broadcast live on KET.

New bills were filed this week, and when added to the pre-filed bills that had been submitted during the 2019 interim, the total already surpasses 300. With almost two months to go before the last day to file a new bill, the count could easily exceed 1,000.

The Senate has traditionally presented its top priority bills early in the session, and this year is no exception. Senate Bill 1, from Sen. Danny Carroll, (R-McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle Marshall), bans any "sanctuary policy" by police or public agencies in Kentucky. It also requires almost all public employees in the state to use "their best efforts" to support enforcement of federal immigration law. Senate Bill 2 would require voters to present photo identification, a campaign promise of newly elected Secretary of State Michael Adams. Kentucky law requires identification, but it does not require photographic identification.

Senate Bill 3 would move constitutional officers’ election — the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner and state treasurer — to even numbered years starting in 2028.

Senate Bill 4, filed on Election Day in November, would transfer the appointment of the secretary of the Transportation Cabinet (currently Jim Gray) from the governor to a nine-member citizen board that would be appointed by the governor. The board would vet and prioritize statewide transportation projects, including a biennial highway construction plan, and recommend candidates for Transportation Cabinet secretary to the governor. The board members would be chosen from lists submitted by KACo, KLC and state Chamber.

Senate Bill 5 would give elected fiscal courts options to approve, do nothing or disapprove an increased tax rate proposed by a special purpose governmental entity (SPGE), such as a library board or sewer district, to get approval from a county fiscal court or city council before increasing taxes. The bill exempts airport boards. Many of you told us you support the availability of these options.

The House has not filed their priority bills yet. “Obviously the priority of the session is the budget. We continue to be a state of many needs and with limited resources," said House Speaker David Osborne, R-Oldham.

The top KACo priority is the need for increased transportation infrastructure funding. Boone County State Rep. Sal Santoro has again pledged to file the bill as primary sponsor. When that bill gets filed, we will have a breakdown for you. Until then, share your own budget numbers on road and bridge maintenance, repair and the unfunded need. Let them know today that you will publicly support their support for more funding.

Rounding out the top three issues are jail relief and local tax reform. Jail overcrowding is a well-publicized challenge for county jails, and the limited relief from the state for housing and care of inmates exacerbates the problem. Limited revenue options along with increased costs passed down to counties is unsustainable. We will continue to seek solutions with legislators and the executive branch. You can read more about these three issues by clicking here.


Each week this space will highlight significant legislative events and important procedural deadlines for the General Assembly.

Be sure to attend the County Officials Legislative Reception, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Frankfort at the Thomas D. Clark Kentucky History Center from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There’s no charge for the event. Reception information is available here. Reception registration opens Jan. 20, 2020. This is your reception. Please invite your legislators today, as there are multiple receptions just about every night of the session. Ask them to join you for hospitality and fellowship in a more relaxed setting away from the Capitol.

Jan. 20: Observance of Martin Luther King Day – no session

Feb. 17: Presidents Day – no session

Feb. 20: County Officials Legislative Reception-Thomas D. Clark Kentucky History Center, Frankfort 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

March 2: Last day to file a bill in the House

March 3: Last day to file a bill in the Senate

March 31-April 1: Concurrence Days

April 2-4; 6-11; 13: Veto days 

April 15: Sine Die (last day of session)             

Direct any questions or feedback on any issues from your legislators to

Kentucky Association of Counties
400 Englewood Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601