For a little over a decade the General Assembly has been meeting every year, with alternating terms. The odd years see the legislature gavel into session on 30 legislative days, and short of something remarkable, the biennial budget is left untouched until the following even-numbered year. Those even years see a 60 day legislative session. But the legislator’s work is not confined to those short 30 and 60 day sessions. There is an enormous amount of effort that goes into preparing for the regular session so that those precious few days can be as productive as possible. That preparation takes place during the interim period. Even though the regular session has adjourned, legislators gather for joint committee meetings during the “interim” period running from June through November. Each joint committee, made up of members from both the House and Senate committees, meets once a month during the interim period to discuss various issues and hear testimony from witnesses to further the discussion. The committees will use this interim period to learn more about the issues it will face during the upcoming regular session.
Current agendas for the committees to which I belong can be found here. All other committee agendas are published on the General Assembly’s website at www.lrc.ky.gov.
Interim joint committees hear from witnesses about ideas for new policy or legislative action, or regarding the laws recently passed and implemented. Just last year the General Assembly passed House Bill 1, known as the “pill mill bill,” which seems to have accomplished its goal of closing the prescription peddling shops across the state. Unfortunately, the bill laid the foundation for new regulations (that the General Assembly neither authored nor passed) that made it difficult for patients truly in need of pain medication to easily obtain it. The complaints poured in - your calls and letters do matter - and this year’s session saw new legislation that came with the full backing and support of the Governor, the Democratic Speaker of the House and the Republican President of the Senate. This compromise bill was the product of many meetings over several months during the interim. This substantial investment of time isn’t afforded by even the longer 60 day session. The interim is a time for a wealth of good work to be done.
The Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary schedule and agenda is coming together with a host of possible topics on deck including potential criminal code reforms, sentencing reforms, prison population issues, and the increased use to technology in criminal investigations and prosecutions. The Juvenile Code Reform Task Force will begin looking at juvenile offender data and will get an update on a financial mapping study of the costs involved in juvenile prosecution and detention. The Natural Resources and Energy Committee will hear about invasive and exotic plant and animal species in Kentucky. The Transportation committee will hear a presentation on motor fuel taxes for the fiscal year 2013-2014. The Veterans-Military Affairs-Public Protection committee will hear an update on the new Veterans Court in Jefferson County which we hope to establish soon here in Hopkinsville. These are just a few highlights from the June agendas.
I look forward to the work ahead, and as always I welcome your input. Help shape the debate by getting involved on issues that are important to you. Let me know by calling my office at 502-564-8100, email me here, or leave a message for any legislator by calling toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.