A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Opinion – League of Women Voters: How can they do that? Moving bills through with no public review

Last week, the Kentucky House of Representatives approved two budget bills (HB1 and HB 6) and we applaud legislators for considering these important bills early in the session.

However, the process used to move the bills through the House Committee on Appropriations & Revenue (A&R) and to the House floor left little to no opportunity for public review and input. The process reflected concerns raised in our recent report, How Can They Do That? Transparency and Citizen Participation in Kentucky’s Legislative Process.


• Concern 1: Readings Before Committee Action: Readings on the bills were held before the A&R Committee discussed the bills. Readings are usually done on three successive days after the committee hearing, which gives citizens time to give input to their legislators before the floor vote.

• Concern 2: Last Minute Committee Substitutes: Substitute bills that were not publicly available were introduced and adopted at the committee meeting. This process meant the public was unaware of changes that had been made to the bills before the bills were voted on by the committee.

• Concern 3: Floor Votes Immediately After Committee Action: A House floor vote was held on the bills the very next day. This fast-track process left little time for the public to review changes and give input to their representatives.

New concern: In addition to the concerns expressed in our report, the process raised a new concern: Discussing important legislation in a special meeting called on short notice, rather than during the regularly scheduled meeting when the public would expect these bills to be considered. The A&R Committee discussed the bills at a special called meeting after the House adjourned on Wednesday, January 31. Then the full House voted on the bills the next day, February 1. The committee had canceled three of their regularly scheduled meetings (Jan. 16, 23, 30) at which time these bills could have been discussed and the public given the opportunity to participate in the process.

These processes make it nearly impossible for citizens to give input on the most important legislation that will be adopted in 2024 – the Commonwealth’s next two-year budget.

We remind the legislature that they work for the people of the Commonwealth. And that the people have a right to participate in decisions that affect us.

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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth O’Donnell says:

    The problem is the individuals that are elected forget that they were elected to represent the people of KY. Rather many seem to be more focused on furthering their own agendas and increasing their power. So not only do we need to fix the procedural problems called out in this opinion piece, we need term limits established in the state senate.

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