Kentucky General Assembly’s 2022 session opens with words of appreciation
FRANKFORT— As the 2022 legislative session began to a churn this week, the Kentucky General Assembly still found quiet moments to remember victims of the deadly tornadoes in Western Kentucky – and to show gratitude to those helping in the recovery.
The House and Senate convened the 60-day regular session on Tuesday, and the mood in both chambers turned solemn as lawmakers described the devastation and offered messages of unity and thanks, especially to first responders and those who have donated supplies.
The comments led off a lean first week in the General Assembly, during which lawmakers placed a heavy focus on procedural votes and redistricting. But the momentum began to shift on Friday when a new biennial state budget was unveiled in the House – weeks earlier than previous years.
As with all appropriation bills, work on the two-year spending plan must start in the House before moving to the Senate later in the session. The package proposed on Friday would allocate more than $51 billion in state and federal dollars annually, and it now heads to committee for review.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have sent six bills related to redistricting to the governor’s desk this week.
The General Assembly must periodically redraw the boundaries for Kentucky’s congressional, Supreme Court and state legislative districts to reflect population changes in the U.S. Census. With filing deadlines for the next primary election looming, legislators have made the issue a high priority.
According to the 2020 Census, urban areas, such as Louisville, Lexington and Covington, have grown in population over the past decade, while rural areas in the eastern and western parts of the state have declined.
Bills on redistricting began advancing in committee early in the week, and after amending the 2022 session calendar, the House and Senate gaveled in on Saturday to give the remaining measures a final vote. The legislation includes:
· Senate Bill 2, which establishes new district boundaries for the Kentucky Senate
· Senate Bill 3, which realigns the boundaries for the U.S. Congressional districts in Kentucky
· Senate Bill 20, which requires any legal challenges to the constitutionality of the new legislative districts to be filed in the circuit court of the plaintiff's residence
· House Bill 2, which redraws the lines for state House districts
· House Bill 179, which creates a new district map for the Kentucky Supreme Court
· House Bill 172, which moves the filing deadline for candidates in the 2022 primary election from Jan. 7 to Jan. 25
With redistricting out of the way, lawmakers can now turn to other pressing matters facing the Commonwealth.
Two Senate bills related to education are already moving forward. Senate Bill 1 calls for local superintendents – rather than school councils – to determine educational curriculum for districts. It cleared the Senate floor on Saturday and is headed to the House.
Senate Bill 25 would provide up to 10 days of remote instruction per school for the 2021-2022 academic year. The measure passed out of committee on Thursday and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
So far, more than 130 bills have been filed for the 2022 session, and many more are on the way. Lawmakers have until Feb. 25 to introduce legislation in the House and until March 1 to introduce legislation in the Senate.
Kentuckians have many ways to keep in touch with the legislative process, including the Legislative Record webpage, which allows uses to review and track a bill’s progression through the chambers.
Citizens can also share their views on issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.