As we get closer to a new year, more information is being released regarding potential law changes. If you reside in Kentucky, it’s essential to stay on top of these changes and additions, as they could have an impact on your life or the lives of your loved ones.
While limited information has been released regarding what law changes are coming to Kentucky in 2021, we do know that the General Assembly will be gathering, as usual, come January. In addition to that, we know that many lawmakers are gearing up to introduce laws that modernize how our state handles elections and the voter registration process.
The Legislative Process in Kentucky
You may be aware of the law changes happening around you, but it’s beneficial to have some knowledge of the legislative process and how laws are established and changed, as well. In regard to Kentucky’s legislative branch of government, provisions within the state constitution establish session dates, legislative districts, terms and qualifications of office, the conduct of legislative business, legislative leadership, and legislative support staff.
The General Assembly meets annually in Frankfort. Legislatures convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. In even-numbered years, sessions are not allowed to last for more than 60 days and cannot extend beyond April 15. In odd-numbered years, sessions cannot last more than 30 days and cannot extend past March 30.
For a bill to become a law, it first has to be introduced in either the House or Senate. Each bill is assigned a number, read by title and sponsor, and referred to a standing committee by the Committee on Committees. If a committee reports a bill favorably, it’s given its first reading and is placed on the calendar for the following day.
If the bill makes it through the second and third readings, a motion to pass the bill as a law will be made. To pass, the bill must be approved by at least two-fifths of the members of the chamber, as well as a majority of the members present and voting. If it’s approved, the bill is signed by the presiding officer of each house and sent to the Governor. The Governor has ten days to act on the bill.
January 2020 Legislative Session
Kentucky lawmakers are scheduled to meet on January 5, 2021 for the 30-day General Assembly Session; and, per protocol, the final adjournment date is set for March 30. The first four days of the session will focus on organization work, like electing legislative leaders, adopting procedural rules, and organizing committees.
Once those first few days pass, the lawmakers won’t reconvene until February 2 for the second part of the session. The veto recess period will begin on March 17. This is when lawmakers return to their home districts while the Governor reviews bills sent to him and consider any vetoes.
Modernizing Elections in Kentucky
Kentucky House Democrats have unveiled a series of bills they plan to introduce to the General Assembly in 2021. Some of the proposals would turn emergency actions taken in 2020 by Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams into state laws. The topics, which are heavily focused on modernizing elections, include the following:
- Early, in-person voting and excuse-free absentee ballots
- Permanent “cure” process for correcting absentee ballots
- Expanding voting hours to 7:00 p.m.
- Automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration
- Repealing straight-ticket voting
- Requiring advance notice of polling-place changes
- Automatic restoration of voting rights for felons and expanded felony expungement
- Redistricting reform/maps with citizen input, rather than just lawmakers who districts are being redrawn
- Expanding the list of which family members could request an absentee ballot for a voter with a medical emergency
- Providing additional secure boxes for absentee ballots
- Requiring provisional ballots in state races for voters whose identity cannot be verified by poll workers
- Making it easier for state residents to vote who do not have a permanent address
For more information on the latest law changes and additions occurring in Kentucky, get in touch with Thomas Law Offices. Our attorneys are dedicated to staying abreast of all law changes in the state—especially those that have the potential to impact current or future clients’ personal injury claims.
In the event you believe you have a valid personal injury claim to pursue, schedule a free case evaluation with our firm to learn about your legal rights, options, and obligations, and how Thomas Law Offices can help you secure your future.