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2021 session working on COVID, police reforms and governor’s executive powers

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021 — Allow me to begin by wishing you a happy New Year. The year 2020 was a challenging year for everyone. Given the recent unfortunate behavior at the nation’s capitol, it is hard to say that 2021 has started better. Despite some’s sad behavior, I encourage you to remain confident in the future of our nation and the hearts of its people.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

Good men and women still recognize the importance of working together for the betterment of our future. Many care deeply about their views, but there is a right way to advocate for your beliefs and a wrong way. What we saw last week was an example of the wrong way. It deserves full condemnation. This cannot be who we are. If you want to make a difference, it should be peaceful and should show appreciation for the incredible self-governance system that we are so blessed to have.

The Kentucky General Assembly has officially gaveled in for the 2021 Regular Session. Our first official few days back in Frankfort have been productive. Diligent work throughout the 2020 Interim and handling initial procedural responsibilities bring me confidence in what this 30-day session has in store.

The swearing-in ceremony of new legislators, including the latest members of the Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus, was held. They include Jason Howell, representing Senate District 1; Adrienne Southworth, representing Senate District 7; Brandon Storm, representing Senate District 21; and Johnnie L. Turner, representing Senate District 29. I am also happy to say Senate President Robert Stivers, President Pro-Tempore David Givens, Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, Majority Whip Mike Wilson, and Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams were all reelected to their positions in Senate Leadership. With all of these fine folks and other returning members—each bringing their own unique experiences and talents to the table—I am eager to get to work and address the many challenges facing our state.

This legislative session will be unlike any to come before it. Safety measures will alter standard procedures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting the number of people within the Senate Chamber, committee rooms, and legislative suites at one time. Leadership and Legislative Research Commission staff will remain socially distanced. Cleaning crews will adequately sanitize workstations. Everyone on campus will wear masks to be as safe as possible while still fulfilling our constitutional obligations to the Commonwealth. Also unique about this year’s legislative session will be the responsibility to pass another state budget. Last year, for the first time in state history, the General Assembly did not enact a biennial budget. Instead, as COVID-19 made its way into our lives, and not knowing what impacts it would have on state revenue, the General Assembly determined the best course of action to pass a 1-year budget rather than a 2-year budget. This will be among the most important efforts in this new 30-day legislative session.

Some priority legislation of the majority caucus has been outlined. The bills are relevant to the topics at the forefront of discussions through the interim. They include measures to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the state response to it, liability protections for businesses and health care providers, police reforms, and better defining executive authority during a state of emergency. All of these and more have been the issues that have motivated constituents to contact lawmakers’ offices. They will be key topics of discussion and debate and other legislation aimed at addressing concerns that matter to the people of Kentucky.

I am honored for another year of representing the 14th District in the Kentucky State Senate. Though things will be different this year, I look forward to hearing from you. I will be keeping you updated throughout the 30-day session.

If you have any questions or comments about these or any other public policy issue, please call my office toll-free at 502-564-8100 or leave me a message via the legislative message line1-800-372-7181. You can also reach me at (270) 692-6945 (home) or email Jimmy.Higdon@LRC.ky.gov. You can follow legislative efforts online by visiting www.legislature.ky.gov.

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