Now that the governor has acted on every bill passed in the 2013 session, some of the more interesting new laws are starting to stick out.
There are always a few bills that make lobbyists and lawmakers roll their eyes, and this year is no different. For example, a bill signed into law describes Ale-8-One as "an original" Kentucky soft drink. We also now have a law honoring Winchester as the birthplace of beer cheese. Another law re-classifies a handful of Kentucky cities as larger than they really are.
Many of the bills Kentucky lawmakers passed in the final hours of this year's legislative session are still awaiting action by Gov. Steve Beshear. Beshear has not yet signed or vetoed high-profile bills that would prepare Kentucky to grow industrial hemp, allow alcohol sales on election day and simplify voting for military service members stationed overseas.
With the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned for the year, a look into lobbying spending during the session shows major dollars are still used to influence issues.
During the first two months of this year's session, a total of $4.2 million was spent lobbying. That's a 10 percent increase over the last 30-day session in 2011, according to Legislative Ethics Commission.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he still has concerns about the only bill to get a veto over-ride in this year's legislative session and doesn’t know if he’ll allow hemp legislation to become law.
The so-called religious freedom bill gives stronger legal standing to people in court who claim the government infringed on their religious beliefs. Opponents fear someone's claim of religious freedom could undermine civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.
Kentucky legislative leaders say they're proud of the 2013, with legislators having accomplished pension reforms, cleaned up other bills and passed others dealing with hemp, special taxing district and military voting.
Many of the legislature's top priorities were passed in the 30-day session, although most of them were hatched as last minutes deals in the waning days of the session.
Kentucky lawmakers have overridden a gubernatorial veto of the so-called religious freedom bill on the last day of the legislative session.
Supporters of House Bill 279 say it would re-establish previous laws protecting religious freedom in Kentucky and that it would not overturn fairness laws. But opponents challenge that, saying the bill invites discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs.
FRANKFORT — Kentucky's legislative leaders have passed two bills to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems, effectively staving off a special session on the issue.
The new plan would reduce a personal tax credit of $20 to $10, generating roughly 33 million in revenue that would go to General Fund, but lawmakers would use for pensions. It would also use revenue from technical changes in the state's tax code, as well as money from federal tax changes.