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Opinion – Al Cross: Evaluating the Legislature’s Performance — Political Agendas Take Priority

Governor Andy Beshear (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

With the 2024 General Assembly nearing its conclusion, it’s time to take stock of the proceedings. The assembly’s direction has satisfied fiscal conservatives, thanks to a budget that keeps Kentucky on the path towards reducing or eliminating its income tax.

However, progressives argue that the surplus could have better served to broaden pre-kindergarten education across a state, playing catch-up in educational attainment and income.

On the social front, conservatives celebrate the legislature’s move to revisit public support for private schooling despite past legal hurdles. A constitutional amendment to alter the state constitution awaits voter verdict in November, stirring both anticipation and apprehension.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (Credits: AltaSea)

The assembly also green-lit another constitutional amendment to ban non-citizen voting, a move critics see as unnecessary but which serves to galvanize a certain voter base.

However, two other proposed amendments—one to realign elections for statewide officers with presidential elections and another to limit gubernatorial pardon powers—seem to be losing steam.

The assembly’s Republican majority has taken steps aimed at Louisville, changing election dynamics for local offices and imposing restrictions on public education and land-use ordinances, reflecting political divisions.

Several controversial ideas failed to pass. The Senate’s bill to tamper with university diversity and equity programs failed to find a compromise. Similarly, an attempt to reorganize the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources was halted in the House in response to public opposition.

Andy Beshear (Credits: FOX 56)

A late-session bill to restructure oversight of horse racing and charitable gaming sailed through with minimal debate, raising eyebrows about its thoroughness and the influence of racing interests within the legislature.

A bill that would weaken the Open Records Act by exempting officials’ personal device communications from disclosure still hangs in the balance. Its passage would require agreement with Governor Andy Beshear, who has indicated support for its current form. Like others, this proposal tests public tolerance for opacity in government operations.

As the session winds down, these developments reflect the complex interplay of political agendas, public interest, and the quest for transparency and fairness in governance. The coming days will further clarify the assembly’s legacy and its implications for Kentucky’s future.

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