Session begins, House transparency rules debated

Published 12:13 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

By Tom Latek

Kentucky Today

A dispute over transparency in the rules of the Kentucky House dominated the first day of the 2024 Kentucky General Assembly.

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House Resolution 2, which sets the chamber’s rules for the session, generated the most debate. Democrats asked why the League of Women Voters recommendations issued last month calling for more transparency in the legislative process were not followed, and requested a recess so they could study the document.      

House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, called a 15-minute recess, to allow each party’s caucus to review the rules before a vote.

A motion to table the resolution failed, and it was adopted 72-23.

After the House adjourned, Speaker Osborne explained to reporters why they did not consider the LVW recommendations.

“The League of Women Voters report was inaccurate,” he said.  “They claimed transparency has decreased, when in actuality, transparency has increased.  It just had an incorrect conclusion.”

Osborne also indicated the House’s version of the two-year state budget is expected to be released next week, and that he has not yet seen details of Gov. Andy Beshear’s budget proposal.

The Speaker said he expects to see some money currently in the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, or “Rainy Day Fund,” to be included in the spending plan.  “We will end this fiscal year with $4.5 billion plus in the budget reserve, and that’s more than we need.”

As to where he sees the spending from the Rainy Day Fund going, Osborne said, “One thing that we can spend that money on that does not count as an appropriation under our tax reform bill, is to pay down the public pension liability.  I think it would be appropriate to assume that there will be significant additional contributions into the pensions.”

The House saw 73 bills and 26 resolutions introduced on the opening day, while members of the Senate introduced 45 bills and 33 resolutions. The content of most of the bills and resolutions will not be known until Tuesday evening, when Legislative Research Commission staffers enter them on their website.