Final Week of the 2022 Legislative Session
Last week marked the official end of the 2022 Regular Session. We concluded the final two legislative days on Wednesday and Thursday for the General Assembly to override Governor Andy Beshear's vetoes. In what could be the most active veto override effort in Kentucky history, eight Senate bill vetoes and over 20 state House of Representative bill vetoes were overridden, bypassing the Governor's attempt to block legislation. In addition to these overrides, we passed a few additional bills, and I expect those bills will be signed into law.
With a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly, the Republican Party currently represents the conservative values of the majority of the commonwealth's voting residents. Multitudes of vetoes from the Governor speak to the social, cultural, political and philosophical divide between his administration and most Kentuckians.
Look no further than the expanding supermajorities in the Kentucky House and Senate since the Governor's inauguration. This Governor was elected with less than 50 percent of the vote, and every statewide elected official on the ballot received more total votes than him. Voter registration trends also continue to tell a clear story of the will of the Kentucky voter. As Senate Majority Floor Leader, I can speak for the chamber when I say we will continue to pass relevant conservative policies despite condemnation from an irrelevant governor.
The majorities in the Kentucky legislature have and will continue to support policy measures to protect the life of the unborn, promote economic growth and fiscal responsibility, rein in out-of-control state government bureaucracies, holistically address workforce and health care needs and expand educational opportunities to more children and families.
These policies represent Kentucky's values. While the Governor attempted to stop them, my colleagues and I in the Senate successfully ensured their enactment into law.
In the latest effort of the General Assembly to champion pro-life legislation and be a leading national voice for the voiceless, we passed House Bill 3, banning mail-order abortion-inducing pills and requiring a judicial review for all minors requesting an abortion. House Bill 3 also included language from Senate Bill 321 prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks.
Allies of the Governor who oppose Kentucky's pro-life legislation will likely file a lawsuit against House Bill 3 as they have against past bills aiming to protect the unborn. A previously passed pro-life bill currently sits before the US Supreme Court and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, along with our large coalition of pro-life advocates, is eager to continue defending these measures with the potential of overturning Roe v. Wade.
In addition to pro-life legislation, the Governor vetoed the Senate's bill ensuring fairness in women's athletics. Senate Bill 83 requires those competing in female-sanctioned sports must be biologically female, which applies to all sports from the sixth grade through collegiate level athletics. Under Title IX, women have worked incredibly hard to have equal sports opportunities. Allowing biological males to compete against females negates their many years of effort and time investment. The Senate stands in solidarity with dedicated female athletes, so its members overrode the Governor's veto.
Riley Gaines, a female swimmer for the University of Kentucky, attended Senate proceedings on Wednesday and was allowed to speak on her experience competing and losing a trophy to a transgender female. Sen. Robby Mills held a press conference along with sponsors of the bill, showing support for Gaines and other female athletes across the state. Her visit highlights the importance of this legislation and its goal to protect Title IX and the Kentucky girls and women competing under it.
Also noteworthy are the Governor's vetoes of Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 9, two education-related bills.
Senate Bill 1 restructured the public school site-based decision-making councils, putting final curriculum decisions with each district's superintendent. This provides accountability for curriculum selection, as the school board selects superintendents, and the school board consists of elected officials who answer to voters in the district. Kentucky is the only state with these councils, which is unsurprising when realizing how unknown their existence is to the public. Senate Bill 1 strengthens community voices by ensuring the ability to effect change via local school board elections.
Included in Senate Bill 1 are the new United States history standards, requiring the instruction of 24 original, primary source, core documents foundational to the fabric of our country. These new standards simply conform to middle and high school education standards with those already present in elementary education. The bill promotes unity around the core principles that make America great.
House Bill 9 is widely known as the charter school bill and enables the creation and funding for two charter school pilot programs, one in west Louisville and the other in northern Kentucky. If successful, other schools may be opened in other parts of the state.
I've long been a supporter of expanded school choice so that all Kentucky students can have more options and access educational opportunities that best suit their unique needs. I will keep fighting for Kentucky students and families asking for school choice.
It has been an extraordinary session, and I have strived to serve you and our district well. I will provide you with insight on more particulars from this year's session in the weeks ahead, such as success for our district in the biennial state budget and other legislative measures impacting our state.