gooch billKENTUCKY (1/13/20) — The members of the General Assembly have returned to Frankfort and the 2020 Regular Session is in full swing. We started off the week by taking care of necessary administrative duties such as filing bills and making some changes to committee assignments. I am pleased to share that my committee assignments remain the same. I serve as Chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. I also serve on the House Banking and Insurance Committee, the Small Business and Information Technology Committee, and the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee.

The leadership teams in both the House and Senate have begun laying out the issues they wish to take up as the session progresses. Some of these issues have gotten considerable news coverage, and I would like to take a moment and provide more information about the bills I am sure you will continue to hear about in the weeks and months to come.

First, I cannot stress enough that the top priority for the House is crafting the biennial budget. We will spend a considerable amount of time meeting with stakeholders, and ensuring that the needs of every level of state government are addressed. Our state has many needs, including funding our state pension obligations, and addressing the skyrocketing costs associated with incarceration. We have a challenging road ahead, but I know that my colleagues in the House Majority Caucus and I are in agreement that we want to be good stewards of your taxpayer dollars. Rest assured, we will do our best to ensure that the needs of the families and people across the Commonwealth are met.

Since the Kentucky Constitution states that the budget must start in the House Chamber, the Senate has more flexibility in what they give their time and energy to during the early days of the session. You may have seen recent announcements regarding what they plan to highlight. While I am still in the process of discussing the issue with the colleagues and hearing the perspective from the folks back home, I do want to give some general information on what these pieces of legislation do. Please remember, the bills I write about in this column are at the very beginning of the legislative process so they may be very different after they go through a Senate Committee, the full Senate, House Committee and the full House.

On Thursday, members of the Senate presented legislation called the Federal Law Enforcement Cooperation Act. The bill, SB 1, would ensure that local government politics never prevents law enforcement from coordinating with federal agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. I think we can all agree that our immigration laws need work, but we should all be in equal agreement that law enforcement should have every possible tool available as they fight crime in our communities. As presented, the measure applies would make no immediate changes to how laws are enforced today, but rather serve as a shield against potential political movements that are tying the hands of police and sheriff’s departments across the nation. I will be watching how the Senate acts on this measure, and hope to keep you updated as well.

The Senate will also consider changing Kentucky law to require that voters present a state issued photo identification card when they go to the polls. The bill, SB 2, is meant to discourage voter fraud and restore confidence to our voting system and ensure that everyone who votes does so legally and ethically. Other states, including Tennessee, Virginia and Indiana, have already implemented similar laws to the one that is currently being proposed. Secretary of State Michael Adams campaigned heavily on this issue, talking about it at forums and debates, as well as including it in his campaign platform.

These are just a few of the early session priorities. As we continue to progress in the weeks ahead, I am sure the conversation will shift and change around the ideas that are presented. I will continue to keep you updated as the session moves forward, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these bills and others that come before the General Assembly for consideration.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov.

Rep. Jim Gooch (R-Providence) District 12

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