FRANKFURT – The Kentucky General Assembly worked the night of the last day of its annual legislative session on Tuesday and passed a flurry of important bills as its last hours slipped by.
Lawmakers have passed bills appropriating more than $ 1 billion in new federal aid, while passing new restrictions on no-knock search and arrest warrants in direct response to Breonna’s police murder Taylor in Louisville.
Here’s a look at the key proposals that were passed before midnight, along with some blueprints left by lawmakers on the cutting room floor.
One thing to remember: most of these proposals are vulnerable to a veto from Governor Andy Beshear. The GOP supermajorities in the legislature cannot override any vetoes the Democrat might raise at this point, unlike those he issued earlier this month.
Following:GOP sprints through 2 dozen waivers of Governor Andy Beshear’s vetoes
Federal relief funds
The legislature on Tuesday passed three bills allocating $ 1.1 billion in funds the state received from the federal government as part of the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout law recently passed by the United States. Democrats in Congress.
They arranged $ 250 million in ARPA funds to support a drinking water subsidy program as well as sanitation projects, with $ 575 million being used to repay a federal loan the state took out to cover its expenses. unemployment insurance that skyrocket during the pandemic.
Lawmakers have allocated an additional $ 50 million to deploy broadband statewide, increasing the total amount of ARPA funds for this purpose to $ 300 million.
The legislature also passed bills allocating $ 127 million for the replacement and renovation of public schools, $ 53 million for the renovation of the interior of the Capitol and $ 5 million for the renovation of the exterior of the annex of the Capitol.
Lawmakers also approved $ 140 million in state funding to fund full-time kindergartens in Commonwealth school districts.
Voters’ referendum on abortion
House Bill 91 provides for Kentucky voters to vote next year on a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would essentially say there is no right to abortion in the Commonwealth .
Abortion is still legal in the United States and Kentucky, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky have criticized the proposed constitutional amendment as an attempt to pave the way for a ban on abortion in the state. of Bluegrass si Roe v. Wade, the landmark court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, is never overturned.
The proposed amendment, which voters can vote on in November 2022, includes no exceptions for abortions in cases where a pregnant woman’s health is at risk or the pregnancy is a result of sexual assault.
Unlike most laws, Beshear cannot veto this bill because it involves a constitutional amendment.
No limited shots
Senate Bill 4 significantly limits when and how Kentucky law enforcement can deploy no-strike warrants, which do not require officers to register before entering the targeted location .
Louisville Police used a search warrant with a no-strike clause when they attended Taylor’s apartment in March 2020. Officers shot dead Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, that night -the.
Since then, there have been nationwide calls to ban no-coup warrants. SB 4, which the General Assembly adopted on Tuesday, does not go so far but limits their use to cases where a court determines that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the alleged crime was violent and that prior notice should be given. to enter would endanger lives or destroy evidence.
COVID-19 civil liability protection
Senate Bill 5 provides liability protection for businesses and other employers as long as they have reasonably tried to comply with state government regulations on coronaviruses.
A previous version of the bill granted corporate liability protection for one year after the COVID-19 emergency was declared over, but SB 5 has been amended so that this protection expires when the COVID-19 emergency expires. emergency.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was a strong supporter of SB 5, although some lawmakers felt it violated citizens’ legal rights to seek redress through the courts.
Restrictions on open records
Supporters have said it aims to protect people who fill these roles, as well as their family members, by restricting the disclosure of their home addresses and certain other identifying details on things like their residences, vehicles. and their assignments.
Opponents have said the restrictions are far too broad and raise transparency concerns, and they criticized how the scope of the bill was widened in a late House of Representatives ruling on Monday. (The Senate approved these changes on Tuesday.)
Shortly before midnight, lawmakers approved a bipartisan plan that Senate Speaker Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, developed with three senators from Louisville to create a tax hike funding district in west Louisville.
The overall goal of this effort, dubbed the West End Opportunity Partnership, is to stimulate reinvestment in West Louisville – home to many of the city’s black residents and which for decades has struggled with poverty and other issues. rooted in systemic racism – while protecting residents from being driven from their neighborhoods by gentrification.
A TIF district helps finance development with future tax revenues from increasing property values, as well as sales taxes and other types of taxation that are anticipated as economic revitalization continues. of a region unfolds.
Following:What is a TIF? 3 things to know about the West Louisville proposal
What did not pass
A final attempt to approve a gasoline tax hike to bolster the state’s highway fund failed in the closing hours of the 2021 session, after legislative leaders discussed the possibility of attach the language to another bill.
Legislation advocated by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and local government advocates for years would have increased the gasoline tax by 10 cents per gallon while adding a new tax on hybrid and electric vehicles.
Another big proposal failed Tuesday: Bill 309, which was supposed to give subpoena power to Louisville’s new civilian review board for police oversight.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has criticized the legislature’s decision to put this bill on ice. He said in a statement Tuesday that this had been his “No.1 priority” for this year’s legislative session.
“I am very disappointed,” said Fischer. “Bill 309 was initially a potential avenue to enhance transparency and reinvent public safety, but it was almost immediately sabotaged by partisan politics…”
Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Eastwood, rebuffed Fischer’s criticism on Tuesday night and said he had not had any discussions with the mayor or his office about the legislation in recent weeks.
“Considering that this was the mayor’s ‘number one priority’, it seems unusual for him to be so disengaged,” Miller told the Courier Journal. “The mayor’s statement shows how little he understands this bill, its origins and how it evolved in the legislature.”