By the time of this printing, legislators from across the state will have convened for the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly. This always comes with a little nervousness and anticipation. This year’s assembly will convene on January 7, 2020 at noon. Please be prayerful for each of us as we make decisions for the Commonwealth. It is sincerely important to me that I serve you well, and that my decisions best reflects the desires of the majority of the constituents of the 82nd District. I take the fact that you have put your trust in me seriously, and make every decision on your behalf with much prayer and forethought.
To prepare for this session, I have been meeting with constituents, reading pre-filed bills, and listening to testimony from officials for the past several months. I have attended a couple of conferences to gain information on issues that I feel I need to be well informed, and to share in conversations with other states regarding their successes and failures, in education. It is important to me for you to understand my position in Frankfort. I am the House Education Chairperson, which means that I chair the committee which addresses matters pertaining to public primary, secondary and higher education; the State Board of Education; the State Department of Education; the powers and duties of local boards of education; conduct of schools; attendance; state support of education; the operation of school districts, teachers’ qualifications and tenure; school curriculum; teachers’ retirement; school employees; pupil transportation; school property and buildings; vocational education and rehabilitation; state universities and colleges; community colleges; regional education; educational television. This is an enormous responsibility which the House Republicans have given to me. Never before has the 82nd District held such a position. However, I am grateful to be the person holding the gavel. It gives me the opportunity to decide which legislation is presented in the committee. Thusly, as House Education Chair, I have the direct ability to control the liberal agenda, including social issues that Governor Beshear supports. We don’t need the appointees from a failing Jefferson County system leading the way for liberal indoctrination and ideology, such as sexual experimentation instruction at age 10, the promotion of transgender or gender neutrality, and gender inclusive restrooms, allowing students the usage of the restroom of the gender in which they identify. These are just a few of the issues that have been discussed with me. In every meeting with those advocating for such issues, I have made it very clear that none of those will be brought forth as long as I chair the House Education Committee. Further, to best serve as House Education Chair, I have spent time during the interim with many superintendent groups across the state, gathering information and their perspective regarding legislation and budget issues. This includes several meeting with our local superintendents. These meeting recently resulted in additional instruction in workforce development at WCHS. We are continuing to look at ways to offer more workforce development skills across the 82nd district. Hopefully including apprenticeships, giving students the opportunity to earn a wage while being trained in areas needed to fill our workforce shortage. I have several meeting scheduled within the next few weeks to discuss funding, to ensure these opportunities for our students. It is important that we create a workforce of wage earners that have the potential to earn well above the living wage.
As session begins, I want to invite you, as always, to give your input and thoughts. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful if I share a little bit of information about the process, and some issues to be addressed, and how to keep up with the General Assembly, and of course, my every action on your behalf, as well as how to reach me during session.
As I mentioned, we convene on Tuesday, January 7 at Noon. House members will begin business by adopting the rules we will follow for the next four months and working through a few other orders of business. This is extremely important, essentially setting the ground rules for how bills will be voted on, how much time we will give legislation and how we will work together with members, regardless of our political differences, to accomplish the goals we need to move our state forward.
This is a “long” session, so we will meet for 60 legislative days and adjourn on April 15. It is also a budget session, so our biggest priority will be crafting the spending plan our state will operate under over the next two years. This will be the priority since we are constitutionally mandated to do so during the next 60 days of service. This will be incredibly difficult and will take up the majority of the session. Although our state has seen revenue growth because of historic economic investment and growth in jobs, we also struggle under the remnants of our political past. We still carry more than $43 billion in unfunded public pension liability, rank sixth in the nation for people who sit behind bars in our jails and prisons, and have more than twice the number of people on Medicaid than we do children in our public schools. In a lot of ways, our state’s predicament is similar to a child paying off the credit card debt of a parent or grandparent. You can place the blame of our situation on whomever or whatever, but the fact of the matter is, this is where we are. I am a realist and know that the budget will be a difficult task, given the aforementioned situations, and all other cost we are expected to cover. As always, I am commitments to a responsible budget, and stand mindful that we are stewards of the taxpayer’s money.
Governor Andy Beshear will join us on January 14 to share how his priorities fit with our mission of putting Kentucky families first and moving Kentucky forward. While not specifically budget related, I expect we will get an inkling of what his budget might look like that he will present on January 28. I sincerely hope that the Governor will propose a budget that is based on realistic goals and assumptions for the state. It is easy to make campaign promises, but it is much different when the responsibility of governing for the entire state falls solely on your shoulders. There are an array of urgent needs for the Commonwealth, and I hope the Governor will consider all of those needs when presenting his requests. Some of the proposals suggested by the Governor will likely be things that all of us in the General Assembly can find common ground on. There are other items where we will disagree. This is a natural part of the political process.
This is some of what you can expect to see in the coming months. There will be plenty of other committee discussions and proposals brought forth for consideration as we strive to pass legislation aimed at making Kentucky stronger by growing our economy, protecting life, defending our most vulnerable and preserving Kentucky values and our constitutional rights. As your representative, I have a voting record that reflects all of the above as priorities. I know there have been concerns regarding anti-gun legislation. It is the right of any member of the Kentucky General Assembly to file legislation of their choosing. However, I don’t expect for any of those democrat bills to go any further than their filing. Rest assured that as the session progresses, I will continue to keep you up to date with what is happening in our state Capitol, especially on issues that I know, given our discussions, are of interest to you. Also, I have several pre-filed bills and a few that will be filed in the next few days. Please go and read those bills on the Legislative Research Website under my name. I think you will see that I am listening and following up on your request.
I encourage you to keep up with the actions of the 2020 General Assembly. As mentioned, the Legislative Research Commission maintains a great website that houses all the bills filed for consideration, meeting schedules, our contact information and some research and information in general. They update this information daily to reflect how bills are amended and moving through the process. You can visit the website at www.legislature.ky.gov.
Again, please know, I also want to hear from you on any issue of importance to you. It is crucial for me to understand your views so that I may better represent you in Frankfort. I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST)through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Regina.huff@ lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings, particularly the House Education Committee which I chair and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov . I also have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, where you can often find up to the minute information on bills of priority, even during the voting procedure. Additionally, you can reach me on my cellphone at 606-524-0227. If I am unable to answer, please leave a message and I will return your call.
Session means being away from my family and friends weekly until April 15. However, I will be available to attend events on the weekends. I hope the information above provides you with the knowledge of how you can stay informed regarding your government at work. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, it is truly a privilege.