Second week of legislative session dominated by budget bills
2021 General Assembly
Regular Session Legislative Update
Week 2 (Legislative Days 6-10)
Jan. 11-15, 2021
Typically, crafting budgets is not a task handled during the short even-numbered year sessions; however, last year, legislators passed one-year budgets rather than the traditional biennial budgets, not knowing what revenues would be at this point in the pandemic.
During his State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Andy Beshear urged lawmakers to allocate the FY21 budget surplus to provide economic relief to small businesses and nonprofits, expand broadband and invest more in education.
However, with the unknown certainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine rollout, House and Senate leadership have stressed the importance of a “continuation budget” from the FY21 numbers.
“Revenue projections are slippery things,” said Jason Petrie, who is chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, after the House A&R meeting Monday. “You have to consider what it’s being compared to, whether it was an anomaly or whether it is normal course.”
HB 192, Executive Branch FY 2022 budget;
- The Senate Committee Substitute moves the additional $8 million in Coal Severance dollars over the original forecast from the LGEDF fund into the Rainy Day Fund. *The Coal and Mineral County Association has requested all coal severance net of debt service and administrative costs be returned to coal counties. In his floor speech on the way to passage of the bill, Senate A&R Chair Chris McDaniel explained the change from the House version was a procedural move to advance the bill through the process.
HB 193, the Transportation Cabinet biennial road plan and budget;
HB 194, Legislative Branch biennial budget;
HB 195, Judicial Branch biennial budget.
Both the House and Senate filed their preliminary budget language; however, leadership stressed that the current bills would not be the final language. Legislators will spend the next few weeks out of session, but in conference committee, working to develop the final budget language.
Compromises agreed to by conference committee members are then subject once again to approval by a majority of members of each chamber, after they return from a constitutionally required recess on Feb. 2.
Conference committee House members include Rep. Petrie (Chair), Rep. Osborne, Rep. Meade, Rep. Miles, Rep. Rudy, Rep. McCoy, Rep. Jenkins, Rep. Graham, Rep. Hatton, Rep. Reed. Senate members include Sen. McDaniel Chair, Sen. Stivers, Sen. Givens, Sen. Thayer, Sen. Adams, Sen. McGarvey, Sen. Parrett, Sen. Wilson, Sen. Thomas.
Once the two chambers agree on and pass a budget, the governor will have 10 days, excluding Sundays, to either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature or veto items in the bill. Lawmakers would have to return to the Capitol to consider whether to override any vetoes before April 1.
Two Impeachment Petitions Filed
Last Friday, the House received a petition signed by four Kentuckians seeking the impeachment of Gov. Beshear regarding the emergency actions taken during the pandemic. House Speaker David Osborne said the constitution only requires an Impeachment Committee to act, “and the committee’s action can be to do nothing.”
Wednesday, the House convened the committee, which held its first hearing and established its rules. The governor has until Jan. 22 to respond, and the petitioners have until Jan. 26 to reply. The committee will meet again Jan. 27 to decide whether or not to make the replies public.
The same House committee will handle another impeachment petition seeking the removal of Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt). He was indicted last year on domestic assault charges and pleaded not guilty.The House has sole authority to expel one of its own members.
The legislature adjourned Part I of the session Wednesday. However, the conference committee members for each of the separate budget bills will work over the break to come to an agreement on a final set of budget bills to pass and send to the governor.
This ensures plenty of time to override any vetoes that are sure to come on bills that limit his powers. They return for Part II on Tuesday, Feb. 2. They have up to 22 days left to use before midnight on March 30, when they are constitutionally required to complete their work.
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