Legislators prepare to resume session Tuesday

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:05 PM EST
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - The second part of the 2023 General Assembly starts on Tuesday.

Education, juvenile justice, and income tax reductions are among the items that could highlight the legislative agenda.

House leaders tell us not to expect any major policy measures or changes during the next several weeks.

“I think generally the purpose of the short session is to reflect on the major policies you have passed,” said House Speaker Rep. David Osborne (R-Prospect). “Make tweaks when they are necessary, and make little changes when necessary.”

However, lawmakers are expected to hear testimony Tuesday morning about reports of a teacher shortage in the state. State education leaders and Governor Andy Beshear say there are upwards of 11,000 vacancies. Republicans say that that number is grossly inflated.

“Somewhere between 1700 and 2400 may be the actual number. Not to to be discounted though,” Speaker Osborne said. “We know and have known for the last 20 years there was a pending shortage of teachers nationwide.”

Sen. Reggie Thomas (D-Lexington) points to working conditions and regulations as a reason teachers are leaving the profession.

“But I will tell you the biggest reason we have a teacher shortfall is the working conditions,” Sen. Thomas said. “Teachers are concerned they are overworked. Highly regulated. Too regulated.”

Other items on the agenda could potentially include sports betting and medical marijuana. Both passed the House of Representatives with solid margins and bipartisan support in 2022, but didn’t even get a hearing in the Senate.

“Apparently we have not done the greatest job in explaining them to the Senate,” Speaker Osborne added. “Hopefully we have done a better job explaining them this year. I think there is significant interest.”

“I am more optimistic at this point about medical marijuana than sports gaming,” Sen. Thomas added.” But I am not going to be surprised if sports gaming toward the end of the session starts picking up steam.”

The Senate also has to pass a further reduction to the income tax and could tackle juvenile justice reforms.

Both the House and the Senate will gavel in at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, and the session runs through March 30.