FRANKFORT, Ky. — The top priority in Frankfort this year is a budget, and with only a few working days left to get one passed, lawmakers plan to focus heavily on a spending plan in the upcoming week.
What You Need To Know
- Lawmakers sent Gov. Beshear over a dozen finalized bills on Friday, as they now look to shift focus to passing a budget
- The final budget has to be passed before the session ends on March 30
- Two competing no-knock warrant measures still have yet to be passed
- House Speaker Osborne says the budget will be relatively conservative
House Speaker David Osborne (R - Prospect) said negotiations have been ongoing for weeks and at least on the Republican side, they plan to propose a conservative budget.
“It is one that is going to focus on keeping money in the rainy day fund, enhancing that fund as much as possible because of the uncertainty in the economy,” Osborne said.
This comes as the economy is doing better than expected, with analysts on the Consensus Forecasting Group predicting no drop off in state revenue earlier this year.
Osborne says he’s still worried about the pandemic’s impact.
“Everybody is incredibly surprised and gratified that our revenue numbers have not fallen, but I also think that we have to be cognizant of the fact that there are thousands of businesses in Kentucky that have closed,” Osborne said.
Lawmakers spent Friday giving final approval to several bills, including Senate Bill 67, which allows restaurants to sell alcohol to-go.
“[This bill is] trying to get some relief to our restaurants that were affected by the closures,” said Rep. Adam Koenig (R - Erlanger).
The House also passed Senate Bill 7, a bill protecting people who were overpaid unemployment benefits early in the pandemic from having to pay that money back by allowing them to apply for a waiver.
“Because of the fact that those folks were using that money to buy groceries and pay utilities and pay other bills, many of them did not have it,” said Rep. Russell Webber (R - Shepherdsville).
There are still major bills to work on other than the budget, like the Breonna’s Law proposal in the House and a competing bill on no-knock warrants from the Senate.
House Bill 21 is expected to be heard in committee next week and Osborne said he expects some version of a bill addressing no-knock warrants to pass before session ends March 30.