Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Kenny Imes, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Joe Bowen, Co-Chair; Representatives Jerry T. Miller, Co-Chair, and Kenny Imes, Co-Chair; Senators Ralph Alvarado, Denise Harper Angel, Stan Humphries, Christian McDaniel, Morgan McGarvey, Dorsey Ridley, Albert Robinson, Wil Schroder, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Lynn Bechler, Kevin D. Bratcher, Tom Burch, John Carney, Will Coursey, Jim DeCesare, Joseph M. Fischer, Derrick Graham, Richard Heath, Dennis Horlander, Dan Johnson, DJ Johnson, Brian Linder, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald Meeks, Phil Moffett, Sannie Overly, Jason Petrie, Rick Rand, Jody Richards, Bart Rowland, Attica Scott, Tommy Turner, and Scott Wells.
Guests: Commissioner Rick Sanders, Kentucky State Police; Shellie Hampton, Director, Kentucky Associations of Counties; Bryana Carroll, Manager, Kentucky League of Cities; and Commissioner Mark Filburn, Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training.
Overview of Constitutional Amendments Filed During 2017 Regular Session
2017 SB 2-Senator McDaniel
Senator McDaniel presented 2017 SB 52 proposing to amend Section 95 of the Kentucky Constitution and relating to moving the election of statewide constitutional officers to even-numbered years beginning in 2024. He stated that there were two primary reasons for this proposal. Initially, it would result in an approximate $19,000,000.00 cost savings to state and local governments over a four-year election cycle. Secondly, it would increase voter participation. It is preferable this proposed Constitutional Amendment be on the 2018 ballot, with those state officials elected in 2019 serving a five-year term.
In response to a question from Representative Carney, Senator McDaniel stated that the county clerks had been supportive of this proposal in the past and he anticipated they would be again. He had not made specific inquiry of other groups but expected support from other organizations.
Representative Carney stated he supports the measure and referred to the proposal as a “common sense approach.”
Representative Birch expressed concern about the effect of this proposal on legislative independence discussing the history of election dates and the separation of legislative elections from the election of constitutional officers and about extending the terms of those officers elected in 2019 to five years.
In response to questions from Representative Birch, Senator McDaniel stated that eliminating elections from all odd-numbered years would result in savings simply through the reduction of the number of elections held.
Senator Thayer stated that he supported this measure being presented to the voters on the 2018 ballot. After 2019 only three states would hold elections for governor in odd-numbered years, specifically Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. This proposed change would help with election fatigue which would, in turn, increase voter participation.
Representative Graham stated that he had concerns about the governor’s election being held at the same time as the presidential election.
In response to a question from Representative Graham, Senator McDaniel stated that his original intent had been to place the state-wide constitutional elections in the even-numbered years that did not contain a presidential vote so the focus was clearly on state issues as opposed to national issues but changed the date to off-set further delays in implementing this change for the benefit of increasing voter participation.
In response to a question from Senator Ridley, Senator Thayer said he did not have exact numbers of how many states that utilized even-numbered election years conducted those elections with the presidential election and how many states used the even-numbered years that did not fall at the same time as the presidential election, but approximated one-third of the states conducted their gubernatorial elections at the same time as the presidential election and two-thirds of the remaining states that held their state-wide elections during even-numbered years did so in the even-numbered years that did not involve the presidential election.
Representative Linder said many of his constituents had expressed support for moving the elections as they believed it just made sense. He stated it would help with voter fatigue and this proposed change would increase voter turnout.
In response to a question from Representative Scott, Senator McDaniel said he estimates that the state would save approximately $3,500,000.00 and the counties would save approximately $15,000,000.00.
2017 HB 34-Representative King
Representative King stated 2017 HB 34 was a proposal to amend Section 42 of the Kentucky Constitution providing that payment of compensation for members of the General Assembly would be suspended during a Special Session necessitated and called due to the failure of the General Assembly to pass a budget during its Regular Session. This proposal is a non-partisan matter supported by her constituents regardless of political party. One of the primary jobs of the General Assembly is to pass a biennial budget bill. When the General Assembly fails to do their job during the Regular Session the members of the General Assembly should not be paid if they are called back into Special Session to consider and pass a budget. The failure to pass a budget bill during the Regular Session is a failure to perform the duties assigned.
Representative Heath stated that he supports the idea presented by Representative King as he believes this would increase the incentive to pass a budget bill and to pass it on time.
Senator Schroder stated that he had drafted similar legislation in the past but was presented an opposing view that resulted in him rethinking the matter. A concern had been raised that some members of the General Assembly might find themselves signing off on a bad budget bill rather than commit their own time to the process in an unpaid Special Session.
In response to a question from Representative Marzian, Representative King replied that it was her intent the non-payment of compensation would apply only to the legislators, not LRC staff.
Representative Birch said the General Assembly was a part-time legislature and it would not be economically feasible for legislators to attend a Special Session and receive no compensation. Some members might vote for a bad budget rather than proceed with no budget at all.
In response to a question from Representative Overly, Representative King stated that she did not envision the proposed amendment precluding payment of legislators when a budget had been passed and then vetoed by the Governor after the General Assembly had adjourned and additional legislative action was then required, but she would be willing to address this in the proposed amendment if necessary.
In response to a question from Representative Petrie, Representative King stated that she could recall three occurrences over the past seven years where the General Assembly had failed to pass a budget bill during its Regular Session necessitating the need for a Special Session, although this had not been an issue in the past few years.
Senator Thayer reminded the members of the Committee that no more than four proposed amendments could be presented to the voters at any one time.
Representative Graham expressed agreement with Representative King that this was a non-partisan issue, but he also expressed concern as to the impact this proposal would have on the families of legislators, as well as the legislators themselves. Legislators who live a considerable distance from Frankfort would not only incur out-of-pocket travel and lodging costs but they would be required to give up time with their families, and their businesses or employers would be denied the benefit of their talents as well.
Representative DeCesare stated that he supported this proposal as he had filed this same proposal before. This would serve as an incentive for the General Assembly to do its job.
Representative Fischer stated that he believed the language of the proposed amendment addressed the issue of compensation in the event the General Assembly passed a budget that was vetoed by the governor resulting in the need for further legislative action, specifically citing language that the prohibition on compensation would arise only when the General Assembly had “not passed an appropriations bill.”
In response to a question from Representative Wells, Representative King stated that she was willing to clarify whether expenses incurred by members of the General Assembly associated with any required Special Session to address the budget as discussed would also be the responsibility of the individual legislators or whether they would be subject to reimbursement. Representative Wells suggested this could be an area of compromise.
2017 HB 160-Representative Koenig
Representative Koenig summarized 2017 HB 160 stating this proposal to amend Section 99 of the Constitution would permit counties and cities to enact local ordinances that would eliminate constables from operating within their respective areas. While constables may serve a useful purpose in some areas of the state they may be viewed as a potential liability in others and this proposal respects Home Rule.
Commissioner Rick Sanders, Kentucky State Police, stated he supported the legislation. He noted that the need for constables had been debated for years as to whether they were an asset or a liability. This gives the community a chance to vote on whether they wish to utilize a constable or not. Constables are not POPS certified and this is concerning.
Shellie Hampton, Director of Governmental Relations with the Kentucky Association of Counties, stated that her organization supported the proposal. KACO has been in support of addressing this issue since 2010 and this proposal was a good compromise and is the essence of Home Rule, recognizing that some counties use constables.
Bryanna Carroll, Governmental Affairs Manager for the Kentucky League of Cities stated that KLC also supported this proposal and has been supportive of addressing the issue of constables since 2012. Kentucky prides itself on the need and training provided for police and there is concern that some individuals are afforded the same police powers without the training. She requested the support of the General Assembly to address this option.
Commissioner Mark Filburn, Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, spoke in favor of the proposal. Kentucky has the best trained law enforcement officers in the country in his opinion. Commissioner Filburn stated that officers must complete twenty-three weeks of academy training followed by in-service training. Training is critical. POP Standards include drug screening, polygraphs, and background checks.
Representative Koenig advised the Committee members that they had been given an “Executive Summary” with a link to the full report of a study conducted by the previous administration in 2012 on this issue. He cited the study’s finding that one-quarter of one percent of law enforcement activities are performed by constables, yet there are approximately 500 constables in the state. If a constitutional convention were held tomorrow he thought it highly unlikely constables would be included in the Constitution as a mandatory office. While constables may have been important in 1892 they are not necessary now. This issue is bipartisan and has broad support.
Responding to a question from Senator Bowen, Representative Koenig stated that it was his understanding there was no compensation package for constables anymore. Constables are paid to serve papers but a person does not have to be a constable or a member of law enforcement to serve papers.
Representative Carney stated he appreciates the option to preserve the services of constables as some counties, particularly those in rural Kentucky, utilize their services. Constables had expressed to him their desire to receive POPS training and he thought they should be given this opportunity. Representative Carney and Commissioner Filburn discussed the resources and priorities regarding the training issue.
Representative Birch stated that he was in favor of the proposal and would like to be a co-sponsor. This was good legislation and the job of constable is not fully necessary anymore.
Responding to a question from Representative Meeks, Commissioner Sanders and Commissioner Filburn discussed the length of training provided to law enforcement officers, the costs involved, and what could be done to carve out space for training for those constables as constitutional officers that wanted to get into the POPS training program.
Responding to a question from Representative Bechler, Representative Koenig said that under this proposal a city could preclude constables from going into that city to perform duties.
Responding to a question from Representative DeCesare, Representative Koenig said that while constables are not POPS certified they do have arrest powers in their jurisdictions just like any law enforcement officer and can appoint as many deputies as they desire so long as the County Judge Executive approves of those appointments. Those deputies would also have full police powers.
2017 SB 251-Senator McGarvey
Senator McGarvey stated that 2017 SB 251 proposed to amend Sections 32, 95, 145 and 146 of the Kentucky Constitution and that he views this bill as an election reform bill. Moving the election of statewide constitutional officers to even-numbered years had already been discussed. Such a change would result in increased voter participation and cost savings. There is value in keeping local and statewide issues separate from national issues so there is some concern about whether the election should be in a presidential year as opposed to being in a year with the election of other county officials.
Senator McGarvey stated that this proposal would also add an additional voting day, specifically the Saturday before the general election, as this would increase voter participation as well. The cost savings from moving the election for statewide officers to even-numbered years could be used to provide for this additional day of voting and would not require opening every polling location.
Senator McGarvey also addressed the component of the bill regarding automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons. The person seeking restoration must make application, complete his/her sentence and complete making restitution if that had been ordered.
Senator McGarvey then stated that another provision of the bill provides for term limits for members of the General Assembly. The proposal is for four Senate terms and eight House terms, for a total of 16 years.
Representative Birch said that other states that had provided for term limits later regretted doing this, but he supports the other portions of the bill.
Responding to a question from Representative Bechler, Senator McGarvey stated some people find it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the polls within the time allowed on election day for many reasons. People have more flexibility on Saturdays in general and providing an additional voting day on the Saturday before the election could accommodate more voters.
Representative Graham stated that there are already term limits on members of the General Assembly and those term limits come from the voters. With the advance of legislative independence, term limits are a disadvantage due to the power of the executive branch in Kentucky. Move in a cautionary fashion in this area.
2017 SB 251-Senator McGarvey; 2017 HB 373-Representative Miller
Senator McGarvey stated that his proposal to amend Section 226 of the Kentucky Constitution regarding casino gaming is a simple up or down question. Do you want this or not? If you do, then for ten years 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the state pension funds.
Representative Miller addressed the needs of the pension system. This proposal provides a new source of revenue. The voters will decide. Conservatively it is anticipated that the funds provided to the state will be a minimum of $250,000,000.00 per year. The County Judge Executives Association supports this proposal.
Representative Dan Johnson stated that he supports this proposal.
Senator Bowen said that he is for identifying any additional revenue streams for the pension issue.
Representative Wells said that he is supportive of this proposal. In response to a question from Representative Wells, Senator McGarvey clarified that the amounts that would go into the pension systems would be the amount remaining after administrative costs were subtracted.
Representative Imes stated that he had pre-filed a bill regarding administrative regulations that would be addressed at a later meeting. Future meetings would most likely address other election bills and constitutional amendments that were not discussed today as well as other matters of interest to the county clerks and the Secretary of State.
Paper copies of all documents that were distributed to the members are available in the Legislative Research Commission Library.
With business concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.