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Kentucky lawmakers could revive old bills during self-initiated special sessions, under new proposal

FRANKFORT, September 9 -- Speaker of the House David Osborne, R-Prospect, signs Senate Bill 2 after the House overrode the governor’s veto.

Kentucky voters will have the chance in November to give the state General Assembly a new power — the power to call itself into session and potentially breathe life back into bills that failed during the regular session.

Under current law, the Kentucky legislature officially gavels in for 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. The only person with the authority to call lawmakers to Frankfort for special sessions is the governor.

In the fall, voters will weigh in on a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the ability to call themselves into session. Right now, they’re weighing just how that system might work, should the initiative win at the ballot. A new proposal would require the House Speaker and Senate President to jointly agree to call a special session.

And, as Senate President Pro Tem David Givens told colleagues, the proposal would also allow lawmakers to vote on bills from earlier in the year – potentially resurrecting legislation thought dead at the end of the regular session.

"We decided let a bill live on through the year. A lot of legislative bodies do this. Now, a bill still requires the same number of readings and the same number of days as it does previously, but if we were to come back around an issue that a member had filed a piece of legislation on, that legislation would already be in the hopper, be ready for readings and/or action."
Senate President Pro Tem David Givens

Special sessions called by the governor typically have a limited agenda set by the governor. The change would allow lawmakers to open up what’s considered for a vote during the special sessions.

That said, the governor would maintain the power to ultimately veto legislation that comes out of the lawmaker-initiated sessions.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.