Girdler provides legislative session 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.
The swearing-in ceremony of new legislators, including the newest members of the Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus, was held. They include Jason Howell, representing Senate District 1; Adrienne Southworth, representing Senate District 7; Brandon Storm, representing Senate District 21; and Johnnie L. Turner, representing Senate District 29. I am also happy to say that Senate President Robert Stivers, President Pro-Tempore David Givens, Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, Majority Whip Mike Wilson, and Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams were all re-elected to their positions in Senate Leadership. With all of these fine folks and other returning members—each bringing his or her own unique experiences and talents to the table—I am eager to get to work and address the many challenges that are facing our state.
This legislative session will be unlike any to come before it. Standard procedures will be altered to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting the number of people within the Senate Chamber, committee rooms, and legislative suites at one time. Staff will remain socially distanced, cleaning teams will make sure workstations are sanitized, and masks will be worn to be as safe as possible while still fulfilling our constitutional obligations to the Commonwealth. Also 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 typical 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 and moved forward. The bills are relevant to the topics at the forefront of discussions through the interim. They include measures to address the economic and societal impacts of COVID-19 and the state response to it, liability protections for businesses and health care providers, increased transparency, 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.
I am honored for another year of representing the 15th District in the Kentucky State Senate. Though things will be different this year, I look forward to hearing from you. I will be keeping you updated over the 30-day session. If you have any questions or comments about any public policy issue or the upcoming 2021 legislative session, I certainly want to hear from you. You can contact me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Rick.Girdler@lrc.ky.gov.