SENATOR STEVE WEST’S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
The Kentucky General Assembly has officially gaveled in for the 2021 Regular Session. Our first official few days back in Frankfort have been productive. Diligent work over the course of the 2020 Interim and handling initial procedural responsibilities bring me confidence in what this 30-day session has in store.
Something unique about this year’s legislative session will be the responsibility to pass another state budget. For the first time in state history, a biennial budget was not passed. Instead, during the 2020 Session, as COVID-19 made its way into our lives, and not knowing what impacts it would have on state revenue, the General Assembly determined the best course of action would be to pass a 1-year budget rather than a 2-year budget. This will be among the most important efforts in this new 30-day legislative session.
Some priority legislation of the majority caucus has been outlined. The bills are relevant to the topics at the forefront of discussions through the interim. They include measures to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the state response to it, liability protections for businesses and health care providers, police reforms, and to better define executive authority during a state of emergency. All of these and more have been the issues that have motivated constituents to contact lawmakers’ offices. They will be key topics of discussion and debate along with other legislation aimed at addressing concerns that matter to the people of Kentucky.
Among bills to pass out of the State Senate in week one was Senate Bill (SB) 1, which would better define executive authority during a state of emergency as well as ensure there is legislative input in the life-altering decision making process. SB 3 would reorganize the Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy under the Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner’s Office. SB 9, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act was passed out of the Senate again. That bill assures any baby born-alive will receive lifesaving medical care, even in cases of a botched abortion. SB 9 was passed last year but was vetoed by the governor. Unfortunately the veto occurred beyond the veto override period. That will not be an issue this year if the bill is vetoed again.
Also passing in week one was SB 2, which I am the proud to be the primary sponsor of. SB 2 seeks to provide much needed legislative and public oversight over the emergency administrative regulation process and offers more transparency for not only the legislature but also for the citizens of the Commonwealth. It also establishes a 30-day limitation on the Cabinet’s regulatory authority if it places restrictions on schools, businesses, places of worship, religious, social, or political activity, or imposes mandatory isolation requirements.
Additionally, SB 2 would require that public hearings and written comments periods be expedited and advertised. Another aspect of the bill waives sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, allowing for federal lawsuits against RFRA.
In short, the goal of SB 2 is to provide a more logical administrative process, transparency and legislative oversight to hamper the ability of executive agencies to legislate through regulation. Some of the reasons regulation reform is so important, and why it has been deemed a priority bill, is that fact that regulations are law. When agency regulations are promulgated and accepted, they become the law of the land. They are where the rubber meets the road.
I am honored to be representing the 27th Senate District. I will be keeping you updated over the 30-day session and look forward to hearing from you. Do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may have.
If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me Steve.West@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.
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Note: Senator Steve West (R-Paris) represents the 27th District, encompassing Bourbon, Fleming, Harrison, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Robertson, and Rowan counties. He serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education; Chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education; and Co-Chairman of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee. Senator West is also a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Appropriations and Revenue; Judiciary; Agriculture; and the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, and Public Protection. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator West, please visit: