SENATOR PHILLIP WHEELER’S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Week 3 of the 2024 Regular Session
The Kentucky General Assembly reconvened in Frankfort on Tuesday after observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, marking the beginning of the third week of the 2024 Regular Session.
A notable development this week was the unveiling of the biennial budget proposal by the state House of Representatives. The proposed bills, House Bill (HB) 6 and HB 1, are now available for review at Bills – Legislative Research Commission. With these proposals in hand, the Senate will begin its review and formulate recommendations. This proactive approach ensures shepherding the bills through the legislative process, from the House to the Senate, and through the Appropriations and Revenue committees and subcommittees. I will keep you updated on the pertinent details of the budget as it progresses.
There was an uptick in floor action this week, as we passed a number of Senate bills (SB) including SB 10. This proposed measure aims to amend the Constitution of Kentucky (Section 95) by shifting elections for state constitutional officers to even-numbered years. The objective is to address voter fatigue, boost participation, enhance cost-efficiencies for local governments, and fortify the stability of government at various levels.
Despite recent bipartisan efforts to expand voting access, the 2023 general election saw an 8.7 percent decrease in turnout compared to four years prior. The amendment is anticipated to save local governments about $13.5 million annually. If backed by the majority of Kentucky voters, elections for statewide offices would still occur every four years, starting after the November 2027 election. An additional year would be added to the term of officers elected in that year, with the subsequent election set for 2032.
Other bills receiving approval this week include SB 24, which seeks to refine the landscape of managed care organizations contracted by the Department for Medicaid Services. Under its provisions, the department would be limited to engaging with no more than three such entities, a strategic move aimed at enhancing efficiency and optimizing service delivery.
SB 17 also advanced through the Senate. This bill focuses on easing the regulatory burdens related to death certificates for county coroners and vital statistics. This legislative effort is designed not only to alleviate workloads but also to set in motion realistic timelines for forensic studies, contributing to a more streamlined and effective system.
In a bid to bolster Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry and boost tourism, SB 62 successfully passed with a reduction in passenger capacity for riverboats. The new threshold, set at 40 or more passengers, facilitates the legal service of alcoholic beverages on these vessels, supporting economic growth and enhancing the appeal of communities along Kentucky’s riverways.
Thank you for your continued engagement in the 2024 Regular Session. It is a privilege to represent you in Frankfort.
The Kentucky Senate Republicans and members of our caucus have a more personal website, KYSenateRepublicans.com, where constituents and media members can find additional access and insight into Senate Majority Caucus Members. We have information on committee meetings and floor action and include important resources. This website showcases each individual member in a more personal way so Kentuckians can get to know their unique legislators.
As a final note, this week the House of Representatives introduced their budget proposal as HB 1, and Governor Beshear’s budget and road plans have also been recently presented. I will be carefully reviewing these documents over the next couple of weeks and working with my colleagues in the House to see that the 31st Senate District receives its fair share in both the budget and the state road plan.
With the right investment and improvement in our infrastructure foundation, I am confident that working together that we can make Eastern Kentucky great again!
I’m excited for this session and take my responsibilities representing you seriously, and will continue to ensure that legislation is passed with eastern Kentucky’s best interest in mind. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I or my staff can assist you by emailing me at Phillip.Wheeler@lrc.ky.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.
Senator Phillip Wheeler, R-Pikeville, represents Kentucky’s 31st Senate District, including Elliott, Johnson, Lawrence, Martin, and Pike Counties. Wheeler is vice chair of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor, and the Senate Judiciary committees. He is also Capital Planning Advisory Board co-chair. Additionally, Wheeler serves as a member of the Senate Transportation, Natural Resources and Energy, State and Local Government, and Transportation committees.