(WKYT) – Kentucky’s lawmakers return to Frankfort Tuesday for what’s expected to be a very unusual legislative session. Last year the session ended during the pandemic, and this year’s will start while it’s still ongoing. COVID-19-related bills and a one-year state budget will both be on the agenda for the 2021 legislative session. Republicans have a super majority and say they will work to trim the governor’s powers.
Lawmakers say wanting to show getting the vaccine is not a political thing. “Is again to set an example, for everyone else. We are people who want to lead. What is best. Show people what is best for them,” said Sen. Reggie Thomas. “I don’t want it to be political. It was developed by the leadership of a Republican president. And being offered by the leadership of a Democratic governor,” said Sen. Damon Thayer.
But on Tuesday instead of the shirts, the gloves could come off, as a Republican Super majority plans to work to trim Governor Beshear’s powers. “I don’t think we can wait any longer dealing with business shutdowns. Businesses closing and a high unemployment rate,” Sen. Thayer said. “That they are using COVID-19 as an excuse to get what they want, which is to strip Democratic officials of power. So they can have it in the legislature,” Sen. Morgan McGarvey said.
Democratic lawmakers say they do have a few bills they want passed, including protections for unemployment insurance, criminal justice reform raising the minimum wage and bills dealing with systematic racism. “So you are going to see bills to empower civilian review boards. Bills for no knock warrants, coming out of our caucuses to work with the majority on,” Sen. McGarvey said.
Both sides have to come to agreement to on a one year spending plan before March 30. “There aren’t going to be any increases but there may have to be cuts. But I’m hoping we can do more of a flat budget,” Sen. Thayer said. Democrats say they will work with the majority to move Kentucky forward but hope to keep them accountable if moving in the wrong direction.
The legislature will gavel in at noon Tuesday. Governor Beshear is expected to address the General Assembly virtually in a joint State of the Commonwealth budget address Wednesday night.