Saturday 20th July 2024

Kentucky’s GOP-led legislature opens election-year session


By BRUCE SCHREINER Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature convened Tuesday for a 30-day session that will play out against the backdrop of the state’s premiere political contest — the race for governor.

Lawmakers are expected to consider legislation calling for another phased reduction in the state’s individual income tax rate. It would be a follow up to a measure enacted in 2022 that triggered a reduction of the state individual income tax rate from 5% to 4.5% at the start of this year. The ultimate goal for GOP lawmakers is to phase out individual income taxes in Kentucky.

High-profile, perennial issues could resurface during the session. Those issues include efforts to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting and resolve lingering questions over so-called gray machines — devices resembling slot machines that have spread in stores across the state. Lawmakers also could consider another push to fully legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky.

Republicans added to their supermajorities in last year’s election, and the House and Senate welcomed a bevy of new lawmakers Tuesday. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet the rest of this week, then take a break before reconvening in February. The session will continue until late March.

By then, the hotly contested Republican primary for governor will be in full gear. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who has feuded with GOP lawmakers over a series of issues, is seeking a second term. The governor is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Commonwealth speech to the legislature and a statewide television audience Wednesday evening.