State Senate in Frankfort passes first bills of Regular Session

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Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, speaking on Senate Bill 3, a proposed constitutional amendment relating to the election of state officers.

FRANKFORT, KY (January 16, 2020) – Legislation to move the governor’s race to presidential election years passed out of the state Senate today, making it the first measure to clear the chamber this session.

Known as Senate Bill 3, the legislation is a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Constitution. In addition to the governor and the lieutenant governor, who run on the same ticket, the races for state treasurer, auditor, attorney general, secretary of state and agriculture commissioner would move to presidential election years.

“Everything old is new again,” said Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, who sponsored SB 3 along with Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. “This bill is very much that case.”

McDaniel then explained that he had sponsored similar legislation during the seven prior Regular Sessions of the General Assembly.

“The glory of getting to present it for the eighth year in a row is that I don’t have to write my speech again,” he said, adding that he persists because the measure would save about $15 million in taxpayer money by consolidating the dates elections are held.

As it stands now, Kentucky has three statewide elections each four-year cycle. Two of those elections follow the national cycle of federal races, which happen to fall on even-numbered years. Tucked between those are the races for the statewide constitutional offices.

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, explained her vote against SB 5.

“The issues that affect Kentucky need to take the forefront in any debate ... and not be drowned out by millions of dollars of advertisements from national campaigns,” she said. “I feel like our system now protects Kentucky’s interests in that regard.”

SB 3 passed by a 31-3 vote, surpassing the threshold of 23 votes required for proposed constitutional amendments to clear the Senate. It now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

If SB 3 passes the General Assembly this session, the proposed change to the constitution would appear on the November ballot. And if the voters approved the change, it wouldn’t go into effect until 2028. That way it would not lengthen the term of anyone currently in office, McDaniel said.

In other news, the Senate also passed a measure to discourage tenants from damaging rental properties after they are evicted.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 11, would clarify current criminal mischief statutes by creating a category in Kentucky’s criminal code exclusively for damaging rental properties. Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, who sponsored SB 11, said it would not increase the penalty but would clarify that intentionally damaging rental properties is a crime in addition to a civil matter.

SB 11 passed by a 29-5 vote. It now too goes to the House for its consideration.



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