General Assembly overrides several of Beshear’s vetoes; Monday marks final day of session

April 13, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated April 12, 2024 | 7:23 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Lawmakers overrode vetoes on two dozen measures Friday as the Kentucky General Assembly reconvened in Frankfort for the penultimate day of the 2024 legislative session.

It was the first time the House and Senate have gaveled into session since the chambers adjourned in March for a 2-week veto recess. The recess provides time for the governor to sign bills, allow them to become law without his signature, or issue vetoes.

Of the more than 160 measures that cleared the chambers last month, the governor vetoed 20 and issued line-item vetoes to several more related to budgeting in state government.

However, lawmakers had little trouble overriding those actions as proceedings unfolded throughout the day.

House Bill 5, known as the Safer Kentucky Act, was one of only a few that drew much debate during votes on the chamber floors.

The legislation will enhance penalties for repeat, violent offenders. It will also allow prosecutors to file a manslaughter charge against anyone who sells or distributes fentanyl that causes a fatal overdose.

Other provisions seek to curb unlawful street camping, set limits on charitable bond organizations, and crack down on carjacking.

Lawmakers overrode the veto on HB 5 despite continued objections that it will harm homeless populations and increase incarceration costs. Supporters have argued that the bill is needed to address increasing crime in Kentucky, especially murders.

The House and Senate also defeated the governor’s line-item vetoes on the budget bills. Those include a $128 billion executive branch budget and other measures related to the legislative branch, the state transportation cabinet, and one-time expenditures.

Another major override focused on House Bill 7, a much-debated bill that creates a regulatory framework for operating autonomous vehicles in Kentucky.

Here’s a look at some of the other bills that were subject to a veto override before lawmakers adjourned for the weekend.

Capitol Statues: House Bill 513 requires the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to receive approval from the Kentucky General Assembly before adding or removing any statues, monuments, or art on permanent display in the Capitol rotunda.

Gas Stations: House Bill 581 prevents local governments from passing or enforcing rules that treat retail gas stations differently from electric vehicle charging stations.

Horse Racing Commission: Senate Bill 299 revamps the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to create a fully independent agency called the Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Corporation. In addition, the bill will dissolve the state Department of Charitable Gaming next year and place oversight of charitable gaming under the new corporation.

Legislative Vacancies: Under House Bill 622, vacant seats in the U.S. Senate will be filled through a special election rather than an appointment by the governor. The winner of the election will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Louisville Metro Government: House Bill 388 includes multiple provisions to revamp certain aspects of Louisville Metro Government. That includes one section that changes elections for the metro council and the mayor from partisan to non-partisan.

Nuclear Energy: Senate Bill 198 establishes the Kentucky Nuclear Energy Development Authority to support and facilitate the development of a nuclear energy ecosystem across the state.

Recording Food Operations: Senate Bill 16 forbids people from capturing or distributing unauthorized video, audio, or photos from a commercial food manufacturing facility or an animal feeding operation. Violators could face a Class B misdemeanor on the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.

School District Task Force: House Concurrent Resolution 81 will establish the Efficient and Effective School District Governance Task Force to study the organizational structures of Jefferson County Public Schools and develop possible recommendations to ensure effectiveness.

Lawmakers as scheduled to return Monday for the final day of the 60-day legislation session. 

Kentuckians can track the action through the Legislative Record webpage, which allows users to read bills and follow their progression through the chambers. Capitol observers can also track budget bills on the 2024 Budget Bills webpage

Citizens can also share their views on issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

Information from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

April 13, 2024 | 12:09 am

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