State Representative Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, and other members of the Kentucky state legislature opened the 2020 session Tuesday in Frankfort.
Huff, whose district includes Whitley and southern Laurel County, said with the Republicans holding supermajorities in both legislative houses, and Democrat Governor Andy Beshear in charge of the executive branch, how and where the state’s $11.4 billion in annual revenue is budgeted and where it would be the spent each of the next two years will take up the majority of the 60-day session.
Under the Kentucky Constitution, the legislature is responsible for passing a bi-annual state budget. After approval in the legislature, the budget is sent to the governor’s office to be signed. The governor does have the power of a line-item veto concerning the budget.
Huff said Beshear is scheduled to meet with legislators on Jan. 14.
“I’m hopeful that the purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the budget,” Huff said noting the governor is schedule to lay out his own budget proposal on Jan. 28.
“It is easy to make political promises, but you have to find the money to make them a reality,” Huff said.
Huff has prefiled 10 bills of which she is either a sponsor or co-sponsor.
- HB 109 would designate mile-point 22 on Interstate 75 as “Veterans Suicide Memorial Mile.”
- HB 124 would permit the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to suspend the operator’s license of any driver convicted of illegally passing a school or church bus.
- HB 133 would amend the KRS defining criminal littering to include permitting unsafe amounts of mowed grass to remain on a roadway.
- HB 181 would adopt year-round daylight savings time across Kentucky, eliminating the spring and fall time changes. It would only go into effect should Congress pass legislation permitting the states to do so.
- HB 197 would require Kentucky State Police to report domestic violence related homicides in its annual crime statistics.
- HB 212 would amend the KRS on use of cell phones while driving to prohibit those under the age of 18 from doing so, except in an emergency. Current law makes it illegal to text and drive, but not to use a cell phone while driving.
- HB 215 would increase the tax threshold on pension income from $31,110 to $41,110. Under the bill, the threshold would be applied retroactively beginning on Jan. 1, 2018. Appropriate tax refunds would be issued.
- HB 288 would require veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse to an animal control officer.
- HB 482 would declare May 2020 to be Ehlers-Danios Syndrome Awareness Month. Ehlers-Danios Syndrome is a disorder that affects connective tissue supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels and other organs and tissues. Signs and symptoms range from mildly loose joints to life threatening issues.
- HB 817 would require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form as a high school graduation requirement.
The session is scheduled to end on April 15.
When allocating state funds, Huff said she would like to see legislators use them in areas that would result in additional federal funding being funneled into the state.
“We need to be looking to where we can leverage federal funds and make sure we are in spots where we can get the extra funds,” Huff said.
With the Republican majorities, Huff said the legislature would likely pass the budget and leave sufficient days to review any vetoes.
“We can pretty much control the budget,” Huff said.