FRANKFORT, Ky. — When the Kentucky Legislature passes laws, they typically go into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, unless they contain an emergency clause. Thursday marks the day dozens of bills go into effect, including some notable changes to Kentucky laws.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky lawmakers passed 234 bills during the legislative session this year, most of which go into effect Thursday

  • The laws include funding for charter schools for the first time since they were legalized in 2017

  • A bill banning trans girls from participating in girls’ sports also goes into effect

Charter School Funding

Kentucky legalized charter schools, which are public schools run by groups that are independent of the state’s public school system, in 2017.

None have actually gotten off the ground, which is why a group of Republicans pushed House Bill 9 this year, which creates a mechanism to send state dollars to charter schools.

Charter schools have been in the works for years in Kentucky.  

“This is another option for our public schools to give parents a choice to send their kids somewhere that the parent thinks is a better option for their child,” Rep. Chad McCoy (R-Bardstown), the bill’s main sponsor, said during floor debate in March.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the bill, saying it’ll pull money away from public schools.

“As Attorney General, I can tell you the number of prosecutions we had against for-profit colleges; how so many of them took advantage of so many people,” he said, following the veto. “And the idea that we would open up that same ability for people to prey on our even younger students is simply not the direction Kentucky should go.”

Beshear and other Democrats criticized the Republican majority for putting money towards charter schools but not including raises for public school teachers.

Transgender sports ban

Another contentious bill that’ll affect the upcoming school year will bar trans girls from participating in girls’ sports, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act” by supporters who say kids who were born male have an advantage.

“This is not about hate for any kid, and it’s very insulting that people try to make it that way,” Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Benton) said during committee testimony in February. “It’s about trying to be fair to all of our kids.”

That’s despite testimony from Fischer Wells, a trans girl who plays field hockey in Jefferson County, a sport that isn’t even offered for males.

“I really don’t want this bill to pass because it means that I can’t play,” she said. “And it will be extremely detrimental to my mental health as well.”

Multiple groups have already promised to challenge both laws in court.

Public benefits

House Bill 7 puts new rules in place to get public benefits like food assistance or Medicaid. It also establishes tougher penalties for people who misuse food assistance, and lays down the groundwork for a potential work search requirement to receive public benefits.

School board meetings

House Bill 121 requires school boards to have 15 minutes of public comment during meetings. Supporters filed the bill after heated discussions during school board meetings about COVID-19 policies and classroom discussions of race.

Death penalty changes

House Bill 269 prohibits someone with a serious mental illness — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or delusional disorder — from being sentenced to death for a crime.


House Bill 215 enhances criminal penalties for anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl, carfentanil, or fentanyl derivatives.

Religious Freedom

House Bill 43 prohibits a state agency from closing house of worship during a state of emergency. The bill is a direct response to Gov. Beshear’s order prohibiting mass gatherings, including in-person church services, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frivolous lawsuits

House Bill 222 puts limits on lawsuits and threatened legal action designed to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Pari-mutuel wagering

House Bill 607 changes the tax structure around horse betting, taxing most bets at a rate of 1.5%, while directing more revenue into the state’s general fund.

18-year-olds serving alcohol

House Bill 252 allows 18-year-olds to serve alcohol while working at a restaurant.