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The Kentucky Association of Counties

Third week of legislative session focused on governor's powers

Gracie Lagadinos
Legislature overrides governor's vetoes, Beshear files lawsuits to stop implementation of bills.

2021 General Assembly
Regular Session Legislative Update
Week 3, Part II (Legislative Days 9-11)
Feb. 2-4, 2021

This week kicked off Part II of the 30-day legislative session, also known as the short session.

When the General Assembly convened in January, it focused primarily on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting a governor’s powers, and began budget discussions much earlier than is typical. 

This week, lawmakers moved quickly to override many of the governor’s vetoes from Part I of the session followed immediately by the filing of a lawsuit by Gov. Andy Beshear to stop implementation of some of those bills. 

This week also saw the introduction of many new bills. As the deadlines to file new bills approaches (Senate-Feb.10 and House-Feb.11), we expect many bills will be filed in the coming days. 

Stay informed by following us on Twitter @KACo, Facebook @KACo, and on our website.

Veto Overrides 

The House and Senate voted to override vetoes on House Bills 1, 2, 3 and 5, Senate Bills 1 and 2. 

HB1, sponsored by Rep. Bart Rowland (R- Hardin (part), Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe) allows businesses, schools and local governments to remain open for in-person services during the pandemic. 

HB3, sponsored by Rep. Ed Massey (R- Boone), allows a challenge to state laws and orders to be heard in the court where it was filed instead of requiring such lawsuits be heard in Franklin County Circuit Court.

HB5, sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith (Edmonson, Warren (part)), requires the governor to receive legislative approval before reorganizing a state board, commission or cabinet.

SB1, sponsored by Sen. Matt Castlen, (R- Daviess, Hancock, McLean), limits the governor’s emergency powers to 30 days unless approved by the General Assembly.

SB2, sponsored by Sen. Stephen West (R- Bourbon, Fleming, Harrison, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Robertson, Rowan), amends KRS 39A to alter the process of the approval of executive branch administrative regulations.

Click here to read more about the veto overrides. Click here to read the lawsuit Governor Beshear filed in Franklin Circuit Court challenging the legality of House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2.

Felony Threshold 

On Wednesday, House Judiciary Chairman Ed Massey (R- Boone) presented HB126 to the House Judiciary Committee. 

HB126 amends numerous KRS sections to increase the felony threshold for theft and fraud offenses to $1,000. It creates a Class B misdemeanor level for theft and fraud offenses and amends the Class A misdemeanor level to be $500 or more but less than $1,000. It also enhances the penalty for three convictions of a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony if the convictions occur within a five-year period and allows offenses that occur within 90 days to be aggregated into one offense.

KACo opposes HB126 because it creates more misdemeanor offenses, and counties are financially responsible for all misdemeanor costs. We are grateful to Chairman Massey for the open line of communication he always has, allowing us to express our concerns over the bill. He has pledged to work with counties during the interim to address the financial burden counties bear with jail costs. 

COVID-19 Liability Protection 

Monday, the KACo Advocacy Team joined a coalition of more than 40 organizations in support of SB5 to hear updates from the bill sponsor, Senate President Robert Stivers (R- Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe). Senate Bill 5 provides COVID-19 liability protection to the state, local governments, private persons, volunteers, professional engineers and architects, and persons providing essential services during an emergency. Click here to read more about SB5. 

Transportation Funding Update

Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Boone) continues to lobby his fellow legislators to support an increase in the state motor fuels tax. We urge you to contact your Senate and House members and ask them to support an increase in that funding stream for county governments this session. Click here for the Transportation Infrastructure Toolkit that includes talking points to share with your legislators. 

Budget Update

Discussions on the state budget between the House and Senate continue behind closed doors, so it’s important to continue your communications with legislators on holding the line at current funding levels for the state services counties perform every day. 

Highlights of new legislation this week

HB337, sponsored by Rep. Savannah Maddox (R- Boone (part), Grant, Kenton (part), Scott (part)) repeals KRS 237.115, which permits state and local governments to pass legislation limiting concealed carry in buildings controlled by that government.

HB361, sponsored by Thomas Huff (R- Bullitt (part)), creates a new section of KRS Chapter 237 to make declarations that all federal laws and regulations commandeering state or local law enforcement to enforce federal restrictions of firearms are invalid and of no effect in Kentucky and that the General Assembly has the duty to enact all measures to prevent their enforcement.

SB145, sponsored by Sen. Michael Nemes (R- Bullitt, Jefferson (part)), reduces the number to 50 percent for annexation to fail, requires notification of relevant county Judge/Executive and in certain circumstances the secretary of the Transportation Cabinet and affected property owners.

SB148, sponsored by Danny Carroll (R-Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall, McCracken) restricts local government from adopting or enforcing any license or other requirements beyond those required by state or federal statutes or administrative regulations but does not exempt certified family child-care homes from compliance with local government ordinances that apply generally within its jurisdiction.

SB149, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel (R- Boone), allows a county Judge/Executive with the approval of the fiscal court to appoint the first members or to fill vacancies on the library board. 

Click here for a full list of bills on which KACo has taken a position. As always, please email shellie.hampton@kaco.org or gracie.lagadinos@kaco.org with any questions or feedback from legislators. We appreciate everything you do to help move counties forward!  

Kentucky Association of Counties
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