FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 2, 2024) — Kentucky lawmakers hit the one-third mark on the 2024 legislative session this week just before passing a $130 billion budget proposal in the House and sending it to the Senate for another round of revision and debate.
House Bill 6, one of the highest priorities this session, would create a blueprint for spending in the state executive branch for the next two fiscal years.
Lawmakers voted 77-19 to advance the bill off the House floor Thursday after clashing for nearly four hours over spending decisions and how best to use the state’s historic reserves.
Majority leaders have praised the plan for committing record funds to public schools and for investing in public safety, infrastructure and health services, including substance abuse recovery programs.
But critics say it doesn’t go far enough to improve teacher salaries, recondition juvenile justice facilities or address shortages in housing and childcare, among other concerns.
HB 6 cleared the chamber along with two other bills that propose budgets for the judicial and legislative branches. A fourth bill that would appropriate one-time funds to key areas like infrastructure and public pensions also won support.
The bills now await action in the Senate, where they are almost certain to undergo changes in the coming weeks. But lawmakers have 37 days left in the 60-day session to hash out a compromise between the two chambers before they are scheduled to adjourn for the year.
In addition to the budget debate, lawmakers spent time this week sparring over voting and elections.
Under Senate Bill 80, student IDs would no longer count as a primary source of voter identification at the polls, although voters could still use those IDs as a secondary source. SB 80 would also eliminate credit cards as a secondary source of ID for voting.
The Senate passed the measure Tuesday.
On the same day, the House took up House Bill 341, which proposes amendments to the state constitution to prohibit anyone who is not a U.S. citizen from voting in the commonwealth.
The two bills stirred disagreement among lawmakers along similar lines. Supporters argued for the integrity of elections while opponents said such efforts would unfairly disenfranchise voters. The bills now head to the opposite chambers for consideration.
Amid the debates, lawmakers still found time for unity this week at the 2024 Black History Celebration, which marked its 20th anniversary this year.
Government and community leaders came together Thursday for two hours of speeches, prayer and music focused on celebrating the civil rights movement. The Kentucky Legislative Black Caucus hosts the event each year in the state Capitol Rotunda.
At other times throughout the week, measures on loss of income insurance, highway cameras and moments of silence all gained ground. Here’s a look at what was moving:
Adoption: House Bill 87 would allow certain adult family members to inspect adoption records after both birth parents or the adoptee have passed away. The bill cleared the House floor on Monday.
Loss of Income: House Bill 179 would clear the way for employers to offer their workers an option to purchase paid family leave insurance. Workers who buy the insurance would receive temporary wage replacement when caring for a sick family member or new child. The House passed the measure Monday.
Capitol Traffic: Senate Bill 75 seeks to reopen the road between the Kentucky Capitol and the Capitol Annex in Frankfort. That portion of the Capitol campus was closed to traffic a few years ago. The bill advanced off the Senate floor Monday.
Maternal Health: Senate Bill 74 aims to provide expectant parents with more data on health care facilities and maternal outcomes across the state. It would also make the Kentucky Maternal Mortality Review Committee a permanent entity under the state Department for Public Health. The Senate Families and Children Committee passed the bill Tuesday.
Highway Cameras: House Bill 192 would create a pilot program that uses automated cameras to identify speeding vehicles in certain highway work zones and issue traffic tickets to the drivers. The cameras would focus on vehicles traveling 10 miles over the speed limit or faster. The House Transportation Committee advanced the measure Tuesday.
Border Security: House Resolution 57 urges the governor to express support for efforts in Texas to secure the southern border. The resolution was adopted on the House floor on Tuesday.
Veteran Suicide Prevention: House Bill 30 calls for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to create a suicide prevention program for service members, veterans and their families. The program would raise awareness and help connect at-risk individuals with mental health resources. The bill won approval on the House floor Wednesday.
Moments of Silence: House Bill 96 calls for a moment of silence at the start of each day in public schools. It passed on the House floor Wednesday.
Lawmakers will return to Frankfort on Monday for day 24 of the session.
Kentuckians can track the action through the Legislative Record webpage, which allows users to read bills and follow their progression through the chambers. Capitol observers can also track budget bills on the 2024 Budget Bills webpage.
In addition, citizens share their views on issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.