Legislative Update: Representative Chris Freeland
I joined legislators from throughout Kentucky in Frankfort this week as House and Senate members convened the 2020 Regular Session. I am always reminded that it is a privilege to serve this district and our communities, an honor and responsibility that I take very seriously. I hope to continue communicating with you through these legislative updates, but also invite you to reach out to me directly through the contact information at the end of this update. While we adjourned on Friday for the weekend, we will be back at work on Monday of five full days of legislative business.
We saw more than 300 bills filed this week, and while some were pre-filed over the past few months, there are many new proposals that I will be reviewing in the days to come. While a thousand bills may eventually be filed, only a fraction will move through the legislative process to become a law. It is also important to remember that the final version of a bill is often quite different from how it was introduced. That is the result of the input that legislative committees seek to make sure that we do all we can to make sure the final product is strong and accomplishes its goal without unintentionally doing harm.
While we devoted most of this week to administrative details, like adopting the rules that we will follow to ensure transparency and fairness through the rest of session, next week promises to have a full agenda. Not only will legislative committees start to hear testimony and consider bills, but also we will hear from Governor Andy Beshear on Tuesday, January 14. The Governor will give his first State of the Commonwealth Address, a speech aimed at laying out his priorities for the future, and his assessments of how he believes Kentucky state government is operating today. I look forward to this speech and hope it gives us some idea of how he intends to fund the promises he made throughout the campaign. Unfortunately, I fear it may rely on funding we do not have.
The State of the Commonwealth is a preview of what the Governor will share when he presents his budget to us on January 28. Until then, we will continue to work on our version of the state’s spending plan. As I have mentioned so many times, our commitment to funding programs like education and workforce development remains strong. However, we must also address the skyrocketing costs of our jails and prisons and Medicaid, as well as the $43 billion unfunded liability in our public pensions. It will be difficult to continue moving Kentucky forward while paying off the debts of the past, but this budget will provide us an opportunity to map our path.
I also want to hear from you on any issue that is important to you. It is crucial for me to understand your views so that I may better represent you in Frankfort. I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST) through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Chris.email@example.com. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov and you can also follow me on Facebook page, Chris Freeland 6th District State Representative.