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Kentucky General Assembly

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Kentucky General Assembly

Seal of Kentucky.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 8, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   David Williams (R)
House Speaker:  Greg Stumbo (D)
Majority Leader:   Robert Stivers (R) (Senate),
Rocky Adkins (D) (House)
Minority Leader:   R.J. Palmer (D) (Senate),
Jeffrey Hoover (R) (House)
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 6, 2012
19 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
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.


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]

Bills may be filed at anytime the House and Senate Clerks' offices are open. [2]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 8 through March 26.

Major issues

Legislators are expected to address reforms to the states tax code, pension plans for governmental retirees, and legalization of casino style gambling. Additionally, they will also have to revisit redistricting, as plans passed last year were rejected by the state Supreme Court.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

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


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. [4] 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. [5] The House adjourned the special session on March 25,[6] however, the Senate returned on April 6, adjourning the special session the same day.[7]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

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


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 the Confederate state capital Bowling Green, 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.



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.[8]

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.[9]


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.[10]

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. [11]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. [12]

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.


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.[13] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 106,362.[14]


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 March 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 26
     Vacancy 1
Total 38

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.[15] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 40,418.[16]

Current make-up

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 54
     Republican Party 46
Total 100

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.[17]

There are 15 joint interim committees.

External links