FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Thursday after a week break. The General Assembly took an unscheduled recess as coronavirus concerns swept across the Commonwealth.
Even though most were back home in their districts, some remained in Frankfort to move budget talks ahead. They have until April 15th to pass a budget. That deadline is constitutionally mandated
Still, as most representatives and senators returned to work, many questioned why they were not heading CDC guidelines of limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, the House of Representatives seats 100 members plus staff.
About 20 cars adorned with signs paraded around the Capitol just before noon. The protestors blared their horns as an opposing voice to the lawmaker’s return. Some signs pointed to COVID-19, several focused on reproductive rights. Activists voiced anger over lawmakers passing a bill from the committee that would force the Kentucky Attorney General to defend the Commonwealth in abortion cases.
Senate Floor Majority Leader, Republican, Damon Thayer defended the work as necessary to the long-term recovery of Kentucky.
“I think it's important for people to know why we're here”, said Senator Thayer. “I think it's a good and legitimate question, but I don't think it would be a good sign for the people of Kentucky if their legislature just went home. First of all, we're not like a lot of other states that can recess for a while and come back whenever they want. We are under a constitutionally mandated deadline to have the budget passed by April 15th.”
Majority leadership wants to maintain the schedule so they can consider any vetoes the governor might file. The only way to do that is to complete their budget work a week from today so they have April 14 and 15 to deal with overriding vetoes.
Lawmakers will recess for another week while committees work out budget details. They hope to vote on a state budget on April 1.