School safety bill, job creation top priorities for Ky. Senate Republicans during 2019 General Assembly
State lawmakers return to work in January for the 2019 General Assembly and Senate Republicans, buoyed by their expanded supermajority from the General Election, are working on priorities for the 30-day legislative session.
The Senate Republican Caucus holds its annual retreat at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park next week and Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, says meetings with House Republican leaders and Gov. Matt Bevin may help determine legislative priorities.
Thayer said their cause has been aided by the election results.
“You can take tough votes in the General Assembly and run on your record, tell people why you voted the way you did in a tough environment, and you can win,” referring to a string of protests by teachers and other public employees on pension reform legislation. It was and signed into law, but is on hold, pending a Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality. A decision is expected to be handed down next month.
“I’m hopeful that will embolden members in the House and Senate to know that it’s OK, despite all of the noise and the protests and various attempts at vandalism, it’s OK to stick by your convictions and do what you say you’re going to do,” Thayer said. “I think our members were rewarded for that.”
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said job creation remains atop his list.
“I think we’re going to look at, in conjunction with the House and the Governor’s office, about making government more efficient, streamlining government, continuing to look at regulations, making sure regulations do not get out of control, looking at more policies which create jobs,” he said.
“One of the things you’ll see when you have policies that create jobs is that a lot of time governmental expense goes down,” Stivers said. “And I think you’re probably going to see an announcement that there are going to be fewer people on the Medicaid rolls, therefore less need for a Medicaid budget, because private pay insurance and the public sector is picking that up.”
Stivers said the bottom line remains unchanged. “We’re going to try to continue to create those opportunities that will result in more jobs.”
Adding murder to Kentucky’s Hate Crimes Law is also a possibility, in the week of the recent shooting at the Jeffersontown Kroger, Stivers said.
“Anytime you have a set of facts and circumstances that you try to legislate specifically to, you’re going to have some oversights and some cracks,” he said. “That could be something that will be revisited.”
Thayer added goals for the legislative session and beyond “are to make Kentucky the national center for manufacturing and engineering excellence, and the place where people want to come to create jobs.”
As usual, during an odd-numbered year, where sessions are half as long as in even-numbered years, the session will have two parts. The first four days of the session, Jan. 8 to Jan. 11, will focus on organizational work, such as electing legislative leaders, adopting rules of procedure and organizing committees. The introduction and consideration of legislation can also begin during this time.
The second part of the session begins on Feb. 5, with final adjournment scheduled for March 29.
By Tom Latek