Happy New Year!  Legislative Preview 2023 from Rep. Willner

Dear Friends,
Happy New Year! 
I’m grateful to the voters of the new 35th district for the trust they’ve placed in me by electing me to represent them in Frankfort for another 2-year term.  As I have since first taking the Oath of Office in 2019, I will continue to work hard, listen to your concerns, and represent your values. 
The 2023 legislative session begins tomorrow, January 3rd.  When the General Assembly returns to the Capitol tomorrow, it will be just the 12th time in the modern era that it has met in an odd-numbered year to pass laws.
Voters made these odd-year legislative sessions possible by a constitutional amendment passed in 2000. Prior to that time, odd-year sessions lasted only for four days and were used solely to swear-in newly elected legislators, choose House and Senate leaders and establish committee memberships for the next two years.
Much of that work is still finalized in the same way today, but the remaining days of the odd-year “short sessions” are similar to those held in even-numbered years, with a few key differences.  During odd-year sessions, legislators meet for 30 instead of 60 days, and there is about a three-week gap in January where we return home before completing the bulk of our work in February and March.
The most significant difference is that bills affecting state spending during the legislature’s short session require support of three-fifths of the House and Senate instead of a simple majority.  This is largely to preserve the two-year budget process that state government still maintains.
It is too soon, of course, to say what will become law when the General Assembly begins meeting, but legislative leaders have promised a more deliberative pace than we have seen over the past several sessions.  Even so, there will still be hundreds of bills filed and dozens debated in committee and on the House and Senate floor.
Keeping track of this legislation is relatively easy in one sense but difficult in others, especially during a session’s final days. 
On one hand, you can check the general status of a bill by calling 866-840-2835 during normal business hours, and the number to find out the time and place of legislative committee meetings is 800-633-9650.  And the General Assembly’s website – legislature.ky.gov – is another great resource that features this information as well as the full text of legislation and House and Senate votes.
Unfortunately, the process is not nearly as transparent as it should be when votes are happening quickly; indeed, it can be tough for many legislators, much less the public, to stay current.  I will do my best to keep you informed. 
KET makes it possible to see many of our House and Senate meetings in real time, and those videos are always available in the online archives kept by the station, which also has a smartphone app you can download.  To learn more, visit the KET website: www.ket.org.
The General Assembly also has a YouTube channel for those committee meetings not covered by KET.  You can find it by searching for “Kentucky LRC streaming.”
In the upcoming session, I’ll be serving on the House Education, Children and Families, and Health Services Committees, as well as the budget review sub-committee for Health & Family Services.   
If you would like to let me know your thoughts or concerns about legislation, you can email me at Lisa.Willner@lrc.ky.gov, and you also can leave a message for me or any other legislator (or all of us) by calling 800-372-7181, or 866-840-6574 for the Spanish language message line.  You can also request to be connected directly with my Frankfort office by calling 502-564-8100.  
 I will keep you updated about our work in the weeks ahead through periodic emails like this one, and more frequently through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisaforkyhouse and Twitter: @lgwillner.
Every contact I have with constituents like you helps me tremendously, and I’m always grateful for your engagement  Please don’t hesitate to reach out early and often, because that is the true foundation of the legislative process.
With wishes for all the best in 2023,