© 2024 WUKY
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kentucky lawmakers buckle down on final legislative day. Here's what to watch.

LRC Public Information

With hours remaining in the 2024 Kentucky General Assembly, Republican lawmakers are celebrating big ticket bills that have reached final passage as they wrap up legislative business. But some questions do linger as the clock ticks down.

With nearly all of Gov. Andy Beshear's vetoes overridden on Friday, the attention now is on several remaining bills — including legislation that could dismantle Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or DEI, programs, House Bill 509, which opponents fear could introduce loopholes in the state's open records law, and a package of reforms meant to improve prenatal care and pregnancy support collectively known as the "Momnibus" bill.

Louisville Democratic Sen. David Yates could also use a legislative maneuver meant to push for a floor vote on a bill adding new exceptions to the state's near-total abortion ban.

In other business, the Senate is also expected to vote on the confirmation of Kentucky Education Commissioner nominee Dr. Robbie Fletcher.

All new bills passed Monday would be subject to the governor's veto — this time, with no chance for the GOP-led legislature to override.

Dueling Crime Bill Events

Sponsors and supporters of a major anti-crime bill gathered for a ceremonial signing on the final day of the 2024 regular session. The gathering was followed by a rebuttal from opponents.

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams said he was honored to sign the omnibus bill referred to as the Safer Kentucky Act — a package billed as "tough on crime" that ushers in stricter penalties for a number of offenses.

House Bill 5 takes a sweeping approach to the issue — creating a carjacking statute, adding crimes to the list of violent offenses, and removing parole options for offenders with three violent convictions. It also outlaws street camping outside of officially designed areas, a provision opponents worry will result in the criminalization of homelessness.

Then, there's the cost.

Kungu Njuguna, a policy strategist with the ACLU of Kentucky, took aim at the estimated price tag.

"This is going to bust local governments' budgets. They already can't afford their jails and their jails are already overcrowded," he said. "This is going to cause harm on a local level that we've never seen. I hope I'm wrong about that, but I don't think I will be."

Njuguna was joined in the Capitol rotunda by representatives from other groups in opposition, including the Coalition for the Homeless, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and People Advocating Recovery.

They say they hope the legislature will do more next year to bolster housing, education, healthcare, and other services they believe would get at the root of the problem.

The Safer Kentucky Act goes into effect in 90 days.

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.