Kentucky General Assembly

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Kentucky General Assembly

Seal of Kentucky.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   January 7, 2014
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Robert Stivers (R)
House Speaker:  Greg Stumbo (D)
Majority Leader:   Damon Thayer (R) (Senate),
Rocky Adkins (D) (House)
Minority leader:   R.J. Palmer (D) (Senate),
Jeffrey Hoover (R) (House)
Structure
Members:  38 (Senate), 100 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   The Legislative Department, Kentucky Constitution, Sec 29
Salary:   $186.73/day + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
19 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
19 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Kentucky Legislature has control
Meeting place:
Kentucky State Capitol.jpg
The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of Kentucky. It is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the upper Kentucky State Senate and the lower Kentucky House of Representatives.

Section 33 of the Kentucky Constitution requires that the General Assembly divide the state into 38 Senate and 100 House districts. Districts are required to be as nearly equal in population as possible. Districts can be formed by joining more than one county, but the counties forming a district must be contiguous. Districts must be reviewed every 10 years and be re-divided if necessary.

The General Assembly meets annually in the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, convening on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. In even-numbered years, sessions may not last more than 60 legislative days, and cannot extend beyond April 15. In odd-numbered years, sessions may not last more than 30 legislative days, and cannot extend beyond March 30. Special sessions may be called by the Governor of Kentucky at any time for any duration. As of December 2014, Kentucky is one of 14 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: Kentucky House of Representatives, Kentucky State Senate, Kentucky Governor

Sessions

Section 36 of The Legislative Department of the Kentucky Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is required to meet. Regular Sessions convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. Sessions in odd numbered years can last no more than 30 legislative days and must be concluded by March 30. Sessions in even numbered years can last no more than 60 legislative days and must be concluded by April 15. The governor may call additional special sessions.[1][2]

Bills may be filed at anytime the House and Senate Clerks' offices are open.[3]

2014

See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to April 15.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included the biennial state budget, casino gambling, tax reform based on the recommendations of 2012 commission and raising the minimum wage.[4]

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to March 26.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included reforms to the state's tax code, pension plans for governmental retirees, legalization of casino style gambling, and redistricting.[5]

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 3 through April 9.

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 4 through March 9, and reconvened for a special session on March 14. The session was called to an early end by Senate President David Williams on March 9, 12 days sooner than the originally scheduled end date of March 22. On March 9, Governor Steve Beshear called to re-convene on March 14 for a special legislative session, focused on balancing the state's Medicaid budget.

The House adjourned the special session on March 24;[6] however, the Senate returned on April 6, adjourning the special session the same day.[7]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 5th to April 15th.

Role in state budget

See also: Kentucky state budget

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[8][9]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July of the year preceding the start of the biennium.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests in October.
  3. Agency hearings are held in November and December.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the legislature on the 15th legislative day (this deadline is moved up to the 10th legislative day for governors serving a second term).
  5. The state legislature adopts a budget in April. The biennium begins July 1.

Kentucky is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[9]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the legislature is required to adopt a balanced budget.[9]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Kentucky was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[10]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[11] According to the report, Kentucky received a grade of B and a numerical score of 83, indicating that Kentucky was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[11]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Kentucky was given a grade of F in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[12]

History

The first meeting of the General Assembly occurred in 1792, shortly after Kentucky was granted statehood. Legislators convened in Lexington, the state's temporary capital. Among the first orders of business was choosing a permanent state capital. In the end, the small town of Frankfort, with their offer to provide a temporary structure to house the legislature and a cache of materials for constructing a permanent edifice, was chosen, and the state's capital has remained there ever since.

The Civil War

Officially, Kentucky remained neutral during the Civil War. However, the majority of the General Assembly had strong Union sympathies. A group of Confederate sympathizers met in Russellville to establish a Confederate government for the state. The group decided to establish Bowling Green as the Confederate state capital, but never successfully displaced the elected General Assembly in Frankfort.

Assassination of Governor Goebel

The General Assembly played a decisive role in the disputed gubernatorial election of 1900. Initial vote tallies had Republican William S. Taylor leading Democrat William Goebel by a scant 2,383 votes. The General Assembly, however, wielded the final authority in election disputes. With a majority in both houses, the Democrats attempted to invalidate enough votes to give the election to Goebel. During the contentious days that followed, an unidentified assassin shot Goebel as he approached the state capitol.

As Goebel hovered on the brink of death, chaos ensued in Frankfort, and further violence threatened. Taylor, serving as governor pending a final decision on the election, called out the militia and ordered the General Assembly into a special session, not in Frankfort, but in London, Kentucky, a Republican area of the state. The Republican minority naturally heeded the call and headed to London. Democrats predictably resisted the call, many retiring to Louisville instead. Both factions claimed authority, but the Republicans were too few in number to muster a quorum.

Goebel died four days after receiving the fatal shot, and the election was eventually contested to the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled the General Assembly's actions legal and made Goebel's lieutenant governor, J. C. W. Beckham, governor of the state.

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Kentucky
Partisan breakdown of the Kentucky legislature from 1992-2013

Kentucky State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Kentucky State Senate for the first nine years while the Republicans were the majority for last 13 years.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Kentucky State House of Representatives: During every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Kentucky State House of Representatives.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Kentucky, the Kentucky State Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Kentucky state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Kentucky state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Kentucky has been in the bottom-10 of the SQLI ranking regardless of its Democratic trifecta or years under divided government. The state’s highest ranking came in 1998 and 1999 (43rd) under a Democratic trifecta, while the state’s lowest ranking came in between the years 2003 and 2011 (48th) under divided government. The state has never had a Republican trifecta.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 45.00
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with divided government: 47.31
Chart displaying the partisanship of Kentucky government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2012, members of the Kentucky legislature are paid $188.22/day. Additionally, legislators receive $135.30/day per diem tied to 110% of the federal rate.[13]

The $188.22/day that Kentucky legislators are paid as of 2011 is an increase over the $180.54 they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $108.90/day in 2007 to $135.30/day in 2011.[14]

Pensions

Legislative pensions in Kentucky are equal to 2.75% to 5% of the salary multiplied by the number of years served, while regular state pensions equal 1.1% to 2.5% of salary multiplied by years served. Starting in 2005, retiring legislators holding full-time jobs with the state could base their legislative pension on this higher salary, rather than their actual legislative salary.[15]

Salary transparency

As of early January 2011, spending data for every branch of Kentucky government are available online. This data can be found on the Kentucky Legislature home page, under the Legislative Branch Expenditures tab.

According to Bobby Sherman, director of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC), the state legislature has considered this release for years.[16]In August, Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo directed LRC staff to form the website. All legislative leaders approved the website on October 6, 2010.[17]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Kentucky legislators assume office the first day of January after their election.

Senate

The Senate is the upper house of the General Assembly.

Terms and qualifications

According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, a state senator must:

  • be at least 30 years old;
  • be a citizen of Kentucky;
  • have resided in the state at least 6 years and the district at least 1 year prior to election.

Per section 30 of the Kentucky Constitution, senators are elected to four year staggered terms, with half the Senate elected every two years. Each member represents an average of 114,194 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[18] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 106,362.[19]

Leadership

Prior to a 1992 constitutional amendment, the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky presided over the Senate; the 1992 amendment created a new office of President of the Senate to be held by one of the 38 senators.

Current make-up

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 23
     Independent 1
Total 38


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Kentucky State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Kentucky State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is the lower house of the General Assembly. Section 47 of the Kentucky Constitution stipulates that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives.

Terms and qualifications

According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, a state representative must:

  • be at least 24 years old;
  • be a citizen of Kentucky
  • have resided in the state at least 2 years and the district at least 1 year prior to election.

Per section 30 of the Kentucky Constitution, representatives are elected every two years in November following a regular session of the General Assembly. Each member represents an average of 43,394 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[20] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 40,418.[21]

Current make-up

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 54
     Republican Party 46
Total 100


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Kentucky State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Kentucky State House.PNG

Joint legislative committees

Interim joint committees are created from the standing committees of both houses after the regular session has ended. They study issues in-depth and work on bills for the next regular session, which allows them to be immediately acted on.[22]

There are 15 joint interim committees.

External links

References

  1. Kentucky Legislature, "Kentucky Constitution - Section 36," November 7, 2000
  2. Kentucky Legislature, homepage, accessed June 13, 2014
  3. Kentucky Legislature, "Rules of Procedure for the 2014 Regular Session of the Senate," January 7, 2014 and Kentucky Legislature, "Rules of Procedure for the 2014 Regular Session of the House or (sic) Representatives," January 7, 2014
  4. wfpl.org, "What to Expect from the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly," January 7, 2014
  5. The Associated Press, "Lawmakers start Ky. session aiming for cooperation," January 8, 2013
  6. WHAS11.com, "House lawmakers end special legislative session," March 24-25, 2011
  7. Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Senate adjourns special session," April 6, 2011
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  10. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  12. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  13. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 NCSL Legislator Compensation Table," accessed June 19, 2014
  14. Empire Center, "Legislative Salaries Per State," accessed June 19, 2014(Archived)
  15. USA Today, "How state lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," April 16, 2012
  16. Kentucky.com, Kentucky legislature's expenses posted online, January 13, 2011
  17. Kentucky.com, "Kentucky legislature's expenses posted online," January 13, 2011
  18. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," April 2011
  19. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  20. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," April 2011
  21. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  22. Kentucky Legislature, "Committee Information," accessed June 13, 2014