House Democrats unveil list of priority legislation, focus on early childhood ed, voter registration, more

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Kentucky House and Senate Democrats unveiled their list of priority legislation they’d like to see passed during a press conference Monday, the day before the 2022 General Assembly is called to order.

Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers, but both Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey of Louisville and House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins of Shively say many of these issues should receive widespread support.

McGarvey pointed out the cooperation between Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams to have successful elections after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Sen. McGarvey

“We need to continue to build on that success.  To make sure we have same-day voter registration to extend the hours that polls are open until 7 p.m.”

He also said no-excuse absentee should continue and there should be automatic restoration of voting rights after someone has completed their prison sentence.

Early childhood education is another plank of the Democrats’ platform, according to McGarvey.

“We believe with the money that will be available in the budget, we need to make the investment in having universal pre-K for kids. This is going to pay great dividends, not just in the educational outcome but also helping the workforce.”

He noted that 100,000 Kentucky women have not returned to the workforce since the pandemic started and having a quality pre-school option available would give adults a quality affordable childcare option.

Jenkins says another issue with wide support among Kentuckians is sports wagering, and they are working on a bill in partnership with the governor for consideration during the session.

“Kentucky is losing millions of dollars to neighboring states. We need a system that protects players, provides oversight, and generates much-needed dollars to the state budget.”

McGarvey also said he supports the repeal of legislation enacted last year which stripped much of the governor’s power in dealing with an emergency, like the severe weather outbreaks of Dec. 10-11 and New Year’s Day, without the approval of the General Assembly.

“We need an executive that can respond quickly to a disaster or emergency, particularly when the legislature is not in session,” McGarvey said.
He pointed out the irony of a letter recently sent to every lawmaker by the GOP majority leadership.

“We were just asked as a legislature, Democrats and Republicans, to sign on to a letter to send to the President, saying that 30 days was not enough for this disaster. Just last year, we passed a law that stripped the office of the governor of its powers after 30 days.”

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