A day after we celebrate the New Year, the work year begins with welcoming the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly back to Frankfort. Why so soon after the holiday? The Kentucky Constitution calls for the even-year legislature to convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday. So the calendar year begins on a Monday, meaning Tuesday, January 2, will be the first of the 60-day session.
Don’t expect the typical slow start to the session that has been the rule rather than the exception over the years. The first week has often been few committee meetings, short full sessions of both chambers and a chance for everyone to get re-acclimated to Frankfort, the Capitol and their offices.
But this year, with the sexual harassment news of a few weeks ago affecting some legislators, the failure to address Pension Reform in a 2017 Special Session, and a budget that could threaten additional cuts in state agency budgets, expect a flurry of activity early on. How the House will deal with the effects of the sexual harassment claims will probably work itself out as the gavel bangs for the first time. Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, announced a few weeks ago that he would resign that leadership position because of the claim against him. But he can only resign officially when the legislature is in session. And yet, there’s a movement of some GOP legislators to keep the first term speaker as head of the House of Representatives.
As usual, KPA lobbyists will be watching closely as bills begin getting filed, even on the first day, and notifying members of any legislation that causes concern. You will be represented by the staff of Top Shelf Lobby, LLC., as well as Ashley Pack, an attorney with Dinsmore & Shohl. We’ll be reading each piece of legislation, electronically, searching for key words we use to see if any of the bills affect the newspaper industry.
Legislative Alerts will be issued with any major legislation that affects the industry as a whole and we’ll be encouraging publishers of KPA newspapers to talk with their legislator(s) to state the position of KPA on vital legislation.
There is a defined role for KPA lobbyists but the more important role is for the local newspapers. Legislators represent you, our members, and not the KPA lobbyists. So while we will be talking to sponsors, c0-sponsors, committee and other members about legislation, it’s vital that the local newspapers reach out to legislators to push home the issues with any piece of legislation. Legislators don’t owe us, the lobbyists, anything. But publishers and editors and advertising managers are constituents of at least two legislators — at least one in each chamber — and they have to listen to those constituents.
When KPA calls on you to contact a legislator, keep this website handy — http://lrc.ky.gov/
Take time to explore that site as well because there are links to everything dealing with the legislature, state government, Kentucky laws and administrative regulations, individual legislation and most anything else you need to know or to keep up with legislative activity.
On that page, you will notice contact information for all legislators. Click the Find Legislator Bio, pull down the screen to find the name of your legislator(s) and then click the SEARCH button for legislators representing your county. There will be all the information you need to make a call or send an email to your legislator about particular legislation.
The session is scheduled now to end on Friday, April 13, but changes can always happen. The same constitution that calls the legislature into session, states that the 60-day session must be adjourned sine die by April 15. Heres’s a link to the 2018 session calendar — http://www.lrc.ky.gov/calendars/18RS_calendar.pdf
Happy New Year!! Happy legislating!!