Several state lawmakers announce departure from legislature

Published 11:41 am Monday, December 11, 2023

The upcoming legislative session will be the last for several Kentucky lawmakers.

Five state representatives and three state senators have announced that they will not run for re-election in 2024, as of Friday.

All members of the Kentucky House are up for re-election in 2024, as well as state senators representing odd-numbered districts.

State Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville

Harper Angel has represented District 35 since 2005. So far, nobody has filed to run for her office.

During her time in office, she has worked on bills protecting women and reproductive rights.

“I am immensely proud of our work in the General Assembly, notably our efforts to bring justice for victims of rape, and other initiatives to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” she said in a statement. “These have been critical in ensuring safety and support for those in dire need.”

State Sen. John Schickel, R-Union

Schickel has represented District 11, which includes part of Boone County in Northern Kentucky, since 2009.

He is the chair of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee and co-chair of the Jail and Corrections Reform Task Force.

In 2022, he was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 1, which pushed against curriculum including lessons on systemic racism, implicit bias and Critical Race Theory.

The bill limited how teachers could talk about U.S. history and race, mandates a list of historical documents to cover in class and required superintendents to determine curriculum, as opposed to school councils.

Beshear vetoed the bill, saying that he objected to weakening parent and teacher input in curriculum.

Nobody has filed to run for Schickel’s seat.

“I have always thought citizen legislators should not make a career out of their service because I strongly believe in the founding principles of a government of the people and by the people,” Schickel said in a statement.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Fruit Hill

Westerfield has represented the 3rd district, which includes Caldwell, Christian and Muhlenberg counties, since 2013.

He was the first to announce his departure, on the final day of the 2023 session. He said that his family has sacrificed enough, and that he wants to spend more time with his young kids.

Westerfield is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I have relentlessly worked to protect unborn life, strengthen families, create an environment for record breaking job growth, reduce our income tax, and slow or stop efforts to expand gaming,” Westerfield said.

“…But I am particularly proud to have been the sponsor of Marsy’s Law, amending Kentucky’s constitution to create fundamental rights for crime victims.”

He added that he hopes to continue working in public policy in the criminal justice and behavioral health space after his term ends.

Republican Craig Richardson has filed to run for Westerfield’s seat.

Richardson has a background in real estate and run a local law firm. His campaign website says that his top priority is “to defend individual rights of liberty, freedom of religion, and the second amendment.”

State Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell

Bentley has represented District 98, including Greenup County and part of Boyd County, since 2017.

He is the chair of the BR Subcommittee on Health and Family Services.

In 2021, Bentley sponsored a bill that capped the cost of insulin to a $30 copay per 30-day supply.

Nobody has filed to run for his spot.

State Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville

Bratcher has represented District 29 since 1997. He is leaving the state legislature to run for Louisville Metro Council.

Bratcher spent the better part of the past few months supporting governor candidate Daniel Cameron at press conferences and events.

In Frankfort, he sponsored a key juvenile justice bill this year.

House Bill 3 made detention mandatory for children charged with violent felony offenses, waived confidentiality for those children for three years, and funded renovation of the Jefferson County Center, DJJ operating costs, staffing needs and transportation costs, among other provisions.

Two Republicans are vying for his seat—Wyatt Allison and Chris Lewis.

State Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort

Graham is the House Democratic Caucus Leader. He has represented the 57th district since 2003.

He formerly served as the chair of the House Education Committee and was the first African-American to lead a legislative caucus in the Kentucky House.

Graham is leaving to enjoy his retirement, he said in a statement.

“For more than 30 years now, the people of Frankfort and Franklin County have given me the privilege to be their voice in both local and state offices, and I have used that opportunity to advocate on their behalf and to protect and promote our state and local government workers and public education,” he said.

“However, I feel strongly that now is the time to give someone else the chance to be our next state representative, a job I have loved since first being elected in 2002.”

Nobody has filed to run for Graham’s seat yet.

State Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville

Raymond has represented District 41 in Louisville since 2019. She is also leaving to run for Louisville Metro Council.

She said that she thinks she will be able to make a greater impact there, considering the Republican supermajority in Frankfort.

“When Frankfort won’t, Louisville must lead on expanding pre-k, reducing gun violence, and ensuring more people have a place to call home,” she Tweeted.

Two Democrats have filed to run for her seat.

The first is a familiar face—Mary Lou Marzian, who served in the Kentucky legislature from 1995 to 2022.

Marzian and Raymond were drawn into the same district with the new legislative maps, and Marzian stepped aside for Raymond.

The other is William “Rick” Adams, a law firm associate.

State Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville

Webber has represented District 26, which includes parts of Bullitt and Hardin counties, since 2013.

He is leaving to serve as deputy treasurer under newly elected Kentucky Treasurer Mark Metcalf.

Webber is the chairman of the Economic Development and Workforce Committee and the co-chair of the Committee of Certification of Need Task Force and the State Government Interim Committee.

He has sponsored several unemployment insurance bills, including a 2022 bill that reduced the time unemployment insurance is available in Kentucky from 26 weeks to 12-24 weeks, scaled to the state unemployment rate.

Nobody has filed to run for his seat yet.

“Treasurer-Elect Metcalf’s gain is the General Assembly’s loss,” said Rep. John Bray, co-chair of Metcalf’s transition team. “Russell has been a conservative rock in Frankfort and an extremely effective voice for the constituents he serves. I will miss him in the legislature but know he will be an asset to my friend, Mark.”