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Legislators have much to accomplish during 2020 session

By DANIEL ELLIOTT 

Guest columnist

Yesterday, members of the General Assembly from across the commonwealth convened in Frankfort for a 60-day budget session.

To prepare for this session, I have been meeting with constituents, reading pre-filed bills and listening to testimony from officials for the past several months. However, I always want to invite your input, and to that end, I will continue my practice of holding legislative coffee events in both counties of the 54th District.

On Monday, Jan. 28 at 8 a.m. in Liberty at the Liberty City Hall, I will join Sen. Jimmy Higdon for a legislative coffee event to discuss legislative issues and the 2020 session with constituents.

Sen. Girdler and I will also hold a legislative coffee event for constituents in Boyle County, and we will announce the relevant details soon.

House members will begin business by adopting the rules we will follow for the 60-day session and working through a few other orders of business. This is extremely important, essentially setting the ground rules for how bills will be voted on, how much time we will give legislation and how we will work together with members, regardless of our political differences, to accomplish the goals we need to move forward.

This is a “long” session, so we will meet for 60 legislative days and adjourn on April 15. It is also a budget session, so our biggest priority will be crafting the spending plan our state will operate under over the next two years. This will be incredibly difficult.

Although our state has seen revenue growth because of historic economic investment and growth in jobs, we still must be cognizant of the state’s present financial circumstances. Those circumstances include: $43 billion in unfunded public pension liability, ranking sixth in the nation for people incarcerated in our jails and prisons; and having more than twice the number of people on Medicaid than we do children in our public schools.

It is important to remember that the state’s financial predicament is a challenge that won’t be fully met in one session of the General Assembly. I am reminded of the old adage, “patience is a virtue,” and that rings true to me as we explore potential solutions in the days ahead. It will be tough, but I am pleased to see my colleagues share my commitment to responsible budgeting and the idea that we are stewards of the taxpayer’s money.

Gov. Andy Beshear will join us on Jan. 14 to share how his priorities fit with our mission of putting Kentucky families first and moving Kentucky forward. While not specifically budget-related, I expect we will get some idea of his budget proposal on Jan. 28. I am hopeful that the governor will propose a budget that is based on realistic goals and assumptions for the state. There are an array of urgent needs for the commonwealth, and we get to see which priorities the governor has when his budget is submitted to the House.

Some of the proposals suggested by the Governor will likely be things that all of us in the General Assembly can find common ground on. There are other items where we will disagree. This is a natural part of the political process. However, the people of Kentucky have chosen divided government, and we must all operate in a spirit of good faith in Frankfort if we are going to accomplish the business of the people.

This is some of what you can expect to see in the coming months. There will be plenty of other committee discussions and proposals brought forth for consideration as we strive to pass legislation aimed at making Kentucky stronger by growing our economy, protecting life, defending our most vulnerable and preserving Kentucky values. Rest assured that as the session progresses, I will continue to keep you up-to-date with what is happening in our state Capitol. I want to close by telling you how much I appreciate the honor and privilege that you have given me to serve as your state representative in Frankfort.

If you would like to keep up with the work we do, the Legislative Research Commission maintains a great website that houses all the bills filed for consideration, meeting schedules, our contact information and some research and general information. And they update it daily to reflect how bills are amended. Visit the website at www.legislature.ky.gov.

I also want to hear from you on any issue that is important to you. It is crucial for me to understand your views so that I may better represent you in Frankfort. I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST) through the toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181. You can also contact me via email at daniel.elliott@lrc.ky.gov.

 

Daniel Elliott is the state representative representing Boyle and Casey counties.