Republican lawmakers in Frankfort anticipate a busy 30-day session as the party looks to leverage supermajorities in both chambers to pass a slate of long sought-after legislation.
“Put on your seat belts” – that’s the advice Republican Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer had for Kentuckians Monday at the Kentucky Chamber Legislative Preview Conference in Lexington.
Set to assume unprecedented control of both the legislative and executive branches next year, Republicans are eager to get to work making the commonwealth a right-to-work state, repealing prevailing wage laws for school-related projects, and instituting medical malpractice review panels. Lawmakers expect pension and tax reform to wait for a special session, possibly in the fall.
Senate President Robert Stivers says sorting through those priorities will be a collaborative effort across the statehouse.
"It's not that we're going to come out with a top ten and try to pass them out quick," he said. "What we're going to try to do [is] work with the House, work with the governor. Not where we start, but figure out where we want to finish. So the House may come with a lot of the bills you've seen us have in the past."
While Gov. Matt Bevin scoffed at the idea of legislating bathroom policy for transgender students during a year-end press conference, Stivers seemed to hint that the issue – along with other conservative cultural causes – could reappear in 2017.
"I think you'll see some social issues," he told reporters. "I think you'll see what we call our traditional right-to-life issues. As to that, and going beyond that, I think some of those are still in litigation and we've tried to remain a little bit distant from cases that are in litigation. So we'll have to see what happens with those."
Bills requiring constitutional amendments – like moving gubernatorial elections to even-numbered years – will likely end up on the back burner, with lawmakers choosing to concentrate instead on more immediate changes aimed at growing jobs and attracting businesses to the state.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol January 3rd.