Week 1 of the 2022 Legislative Session
As we officially gavel in the Kentucky General Assembly's 2022 Regular Session, your representatives will tackle key issues most important to you that enhance the quality of life of Kentuckians.
Despite repeated appeals to our governor, a special session in the fall to handle redistricting was not called, so that important legislation was introduced Tuesday, the first day of the session. The constitutional process of redistricting occurs every 10 years and is the sole responsibility of the state legislature. The process is guided by population data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau and constitutional legal requirements and federal statutes and case law. The General Assembly's efforts on this front will ensure you have an equal voice in Frankfort for state issues and appropriate representation at the national level in Washington, D.C.
Even-numbered years are known as "budget sessions" and take place over 60 session days. After passing single-year budgets in the previous two years, the General Assembly will get back on track in 2022 by passing a two-year budget. Because of COVID-19 and the natural disasters that tore through western Kentucky in 2021, vast sums of federal dollars have poured into the state from Washington and unnaturally inflated our economy. We will ensure we do not use these one-time relief dollars to create recurring expenses in the following years. You can trust the state budget our caucus is committed to crafting will be fiscally conservative, protect Kentucky's resources, reflect Kentucky's values, and maintain full funding for obligations like pensions. This assembly remains committed to improving the status of the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, also known as the "rainy day fund."
Likely the most important topic the legislature will address is the improvement of our state's K-12 educational system. One of the most significant ways we'll tackle this is through reforming School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) councils, anchoring curriculum development and accountability with superintendents, principals, and elected school boards, and giving parents a greater voice and choice in their children's learning environment. Improving literacy standards has to be a priority. The evidence is clear that children who can read at or above grade level by the third grade are more likely to be successful in life. A report by the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a Kentucky-based public policy think tank, points to a need for literacy reform and significant improvements in student outcomes across the Commonwealth. Providing teachers with the professional development they need to improve reading achievement among students will be a goal of the Senate this session.
Finally, one issue that unites us is protecting our most vulnerable population: children. Sadly, Kentucky ranks among the worst in the nation in child abuse and neglect. Stabilizing the child welfare workforce must remain a top priority if we intend to protect high-risk children who live in unsafe environments. As COVID-19 led to school and daycare closures, abuse and neglect moved into the darkness, away from educators and caregivers trained to identify the signs. Much like the cooperative efforts we witnessed in helping western Kentucky after being ravaged by tornadoes last month, protecting our children is a unifying issue. Now is the time to pass bipartisan legislation to protect our state's most precious treasure.
Follow the changes taking place by visiting legislature.ky.gov. Live coverage is available through ket.org/legislature; if you miss live committee meetings or legislative action in the Senate and House chambers, archived footage is also available at ket.org/legislature/archives.