We now have another short, 30-day General Assembly session in the books. Your Senate and House of Representatives worked diligently to pass strong legislation benefiting the whole Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“Short” sessions are intended to clean up or tweak laws passed in previous years, and this year’s session not only accomplished that, but also saw several pieces of landmark legislation passed by both chambers.
A major win for working Kentuckians was the legislature approving an additional half percentage income tax decrease, coming at the beginning of 2024. This is all part of the General Assembly’s commitment to strengthen Kentucky’s economy, which largely depends on a competitive and modern tax structure that makes Kentucky an attractive place for businesses to flourish and families to reside.
Workforce development took a front seat during the session this year, as we passed 52 bills through both chambers that, in some measures, remove administrative barriers to getting a job, make it easier to get a job or enhance the overall job market. The primary focus was easing workforce shortages and challenges in health care and education.
Medical marijuana was possibly the most talked about legislative win of the session. After five years of tireless efforts by legislators and supporters, Senate Bill 47 was pushed over the finish line and signed into law. It will provide non-opioid palliative support for those suffering from specific illnesses. Many view this as a tremendous advance for residents wishing for more holistic treatment options and improved quality of life.
Sports wagering was another hot-button issue long in the works, which finally received passage through both chambers. With our state’s prolific horse racing industry and the well-established wagering system already in place, it seemed only natural to extend gaming to other sports as our neighbor states have. If you choose to participate, you can feel good that revenue from wagering will fund the Permanent State Employee Pension Fund and the Problem Gambling Fund.
Among a slate of high-profile, but important bills passed this session, the General Assembly addressed the growing concerns over minors being exposed to adult content in schools. We voted on and passed a bill expanding parental rights over the quality of literature found in schools and providing a framework to oust sexually explicit materials. Protecting the rights of teachers and students, we included a provision to prevent mandated non-conforming pronoun usage along with giving parents a chance to review sexual education curricula and opt their children out if that parent finds it offensive.
Finally, the 2023 General Assembly also listened to the concerns of most commonwealth residents and voted to ban permanent surgical and hormonal gender transitioning in minors. This is a growing trend nationwide, causing irreparable physical and mental harm to children. The bill also addressed gender-neutral restrooms in schools by requiring students to use the restroom matching the gender of their birth.
Lawmakers will soon enter the 2023 Interim period, where work to develop an agenda for the 2024 Legislative Session begins. The primary focus in next year’s 60-day session will be the biennial state budget and road plan.
Know I am working hard to address your most pressing concerns and always welcome your thoughts on what will make sound policies that advance Kentucky. When we are in session, you can watch live legislative activity at KET.org/legislature. You can also track the status of legislation by calling 866-840-2835, receive legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leave a message for me at 800-372-7181.
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