Preparations already underway for 2024 General Assembly

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The 2024 General Assembly is about 200 days away, but state legislators are already well into their preparations.

Most of the 60-day session, which will convene Jan. 2, will focus on the budget.

In Kentucky, the General Assembly creates and approves a biennial budget in even-numbered years.

Before the session begins, the governor, chief justice and the Legislative Research Commission will propose budgets for the executive, judicial and legislative branches, respectively.

Additionally, legislators will appropriate funds for the next two years of the 2022-28 Kentucky Highway Plan. Other state agencies may also recommend budget priorities by Nov. 15.

The respective budgets are organized into several parts, including operating and capital budgets.

Legislators must pass a budget by sine die, the end of session, which can be no later than April 15, according to the Kentucky Constitution.

With their current supermajority, Republican lawmakers will have a lot of freedom in how they’d like Kentucky to spend its money.

Official budget proposals are still months away, but the interim session gives a few hints about what state legislators may be considering for the 2024-26 budget and other 2024 legislation.

The interim session, which runs from June to December, allows legislators to delve deeper into certain policy topics or issues in need of legislating. It is also a time where they receive updates on the results of previously passed legislation, so they can fine-tune any issues.

Legislators from the regular standing committees of the House and Senate group together for interim joint committees, where they hear testimony from experts in various areas like education, judiciary, health and transportation.

There are also special committees unique to this year organized around specific legislation passed in recent years.

This year, there are eight task forces looking into local government annexation, the lottery trust fund, multimodal freight transportation system improvements, jail and corrections reform, Kentucky’s health and human services delivery system, the state certificate of need program and school and campus safety.

Each task force must submit its findings and any recommendations to the Legislative Research Commission by Dec. 4, a month before the regular session convenes.

Between the budget and legislative priorities recommended during the interim session, the legislature also is expected to check a few more items off its list.

First, state legislators will likely continue the state’s incremental income tax drop. During the 2023 session, the General Assembly codified a drop from 4.5% to 4% beginning Jan. 1, 2024. The next step would be to pass legislation dropping the income tax from 4% to 3.5% beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

Second, Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, promised to take care of some remaining conflicts with the medical marijuana bill in the 2024 session before it takes effort Jan. 1, 2025.

For example, one of the remaining unpopular points of contention is a provision that currently would allow school nurses to administer medical marijuana to eligible minors if the school district approved it.

Third, Republicans will likely edit the language of Senate Bill 150, which includes a provision intended by Republicans to prohibit both instruction on human sexuality and STDs to children in grade five and below and instruction for any grade on gender identity, expression or sexual orientation.

However, the bill used the word “or” instead of the word “and” between these two requirements, which the Kentucky Department of Education has used as a loophole to allow school districts to choose one of the requirements to follow and ignore the other rather than complying with both.

Laura Goins, House Majority communication deputy chief of staff, said in an email that while session is five and a half months away, members are already working toward a budget.

“However, members are also very likely to continue efforts to address criminal justice issues, the workforce shortage and increase access to health care,” Goins said.