What did the Kentucky legislature pass so far? A rundown of key bills, big and small.

The end of last week marked an important deadline for the Republican-dominated Kentucky legislature: the final day of session before the ‘veto break.’

The veto break is a 10-day period where Gov. Andy Beshear can review and either pass, veto, or allow to become law without his signature any piece of legislation passed by the General Assembly. Republicans have the numbers, if they remain unified, to easily override any of Beshear’s vetoes in the final two days of the legislative session after the veto break.

One of the House’s major initiatives, a bill cutting personal the income tax rate from 4.5% to 4%, was passed in January and signed by the governor. But most all other big bills were passed in the waning days of the pre-veto break session.

Any bill that gets final passage on those last days is subject to a veto that can’t be overridden.

The legislature has given final passage to 145 bills so far. So, what exactly did they pass? Well over a hundred bills, but here are a handful to keep an eye on.

SB 150: the trans/‘parents rights’ bill

Senate Bill 150 does a lot of things.

First, it acts as an effective ban on medication and surgery done for the purpose of assisting a minor seeking to transition genders.

It also contains a ‘bathroom bill’ section, banning transgender students from using a bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity in K-12 schools.

The final product also contains language that bans classroom “instruction or presentation” on gender identity, sexual orientation or gender expression – a broad set of topics.

The bill was radically changed in the last day before the veto break. The original proposal from Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, only contained measures aimed at increasing parental involvement in the instruction of potentially controversial material, as well as a provision codifying a teacher’s right to not use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.

HB 594: The ‘gray machine’ ban

It took two tries in two different years, but so-called ‘gray machines’ will soon be banned in Kentucky. Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 594 from Rep. Killian Timoney, R-Lexington, last week, making the ban take effect at the end of session on March 30.

Often referred to as ‘skill games’ by proponents and ‘gray machines’ by opponents, thousands of the machines have flooded convenience stores, gas stations and bars across the state in recent years – the most popular brand being Burning Barrel by the company Pace-O-Matic.

The industry behind the machines waged a lobbying war with the state’s horse industry, which benefits from lack of competition for their own slot-like machines housed in Historical Horse Racing facilities.

The bill to ban them took a winding path through the legislature. After a surprise vote to table it, the bill was taken off the table and easily passed both the House and Senate. Both current and former members of House GOP leadership were employed by ‘gray machine’ companies as legal counsel, the Herald-Leader found.

House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 126: Juvenile justice system reform

The legislature is forking over more than $64 million via a bill from the House and one from the Senate aimed at fixing the long-ailing Department of Juvenile Justice.

Big items in bills include lifting starting pay at juvenile detention facilities to $50,000, renovating and reopening a juvenile detention center in Louisville, and instructing the department to sign contracts with mental health professionals to provide necessary care to youths held in juvenile detention centers.

The Herald-Leader has exposed poor working conditions and treatment of youths in these centers in previous reporting.

SB 4: making it harder to retire coal-fired plants

A GOP priority piece of legislation, Senate Bill 4 would create obstacles for utilities asking the Kentucky Public Service Commission for permission to replace coal-fired power plants.

Bill advocates say it’s a move to protect coal, a declining but long-important source of energy and jobs for Kentucky, and the overall reliability of the state’s power grid. Utilities warn the bill’s regulatory filing requirements are structured in such a way as to make it difficult for them to retire coal-fired plants regardless of how inefficient and expensive they’ve become, potentially driving up both their costs and the financial burden passed along to ratepayers.

SB 126: Venue changes, potentially aimed at Franklin Circuit Court

Under Senate Bill 126, Kentuckians could opt to move their legal challenges related to state government or legislation to a randomly selected circuit court across the state.

The move is seen by some as an attempt to circumvent Franklin Circuit Court, which has drawn the ire of Republicans in recent years. Members of Senate Republican leadership, and many other GOP legislators backed a self-avowed conservative challenger to longtime Chief Franklin Circuit Judge Philip Shepherd. Shepherd won by 26 points.

HB 360: A rural housing trust fund & tax cuts

It’s not a new appropriation, but House Bill 448, one of a handful of important revenue-related bills that began as a “shell bill,” would create a $20 million rural housing trust fund in the wake of natural disasters in Eastern and Western Kentucky, both of which created their own housing issues. The money comes from already-established WKSAFE and EKSAFE funds formed after tornadoes wracked Western Kentucky and historic floods ravaged Eastern Kentucky.

The bill also provides around $36 million dollars in annual tax breaks, including exempting marketing services and government water and sewer projects from the newly expanded sales tax base.

HB 444: State government worker raises

In a follow-up to last year’s 8% state government worker raise, the legislature allotted enough money to give those workers another 6% raise this year. The package includes a base pay bump for judicial branch workers – both elected and non-elected.

Meanwhile, teachers have not received direct raises in recent years despite repeated calls for that from Gov. Andy Beshear. Republicans argue that they’ve adequately funded teacher salaries, albeit indirectly, by providing funds to the SEEK formula, which directs the flow of state dollars towards school districts.

House Joint Resolution 76: Money to, and held from, state parks

Initially, $46 million of the Department of Parks’ statewide proposal would be released for capital construction purposes under HJR 76, but an amendment from House Democratic Whip Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, was accepted and $66 million was released. However, more than that was withheld from the department under the resolution. The resolution denies the department $84 million outlined in its proposal.

On the House floor, House Appropriations & Revenue Chair Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, complained about a lack of vision from the department.

Senate Bill 5: The book review bill

Senate Bill 5 requires schools to develop a complaint resolution policy to address content that parents flag as potentially inappropriate, creating a standard for content deemed “harmful to minors.”

Opponents of the bill, including most Democrats, say the framework it encourages schools to adopt will lead to “book banning.”

A notable debate was held on the House floor when the bill was given final passage. Rep. Josh Calloway, R-Irvington, tried to add many ‘parental rights’ provisions, as well as the language of a bill banning public drag performances, to the bill via amendments. His efforts drew the support of more than 30 House GOP caucus members, just shy of a majority of the caucus.

Senate Bill 7: Teachers’ union dues

Senate Bill 7 would stop automatic payroll deductions for union dues of certain public employees, specifically targeting teachers unions like the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) and the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA), two unions with well-funded political action committees that tend to support Democrats for office.

Much of the justification for the bill was that it would free up certain public employees from being forced to contribute indirectly to a political organization with whom they may or may not agree.

However, the bill exempts police, corrections and fire departments from the provision. Unions for these organizations tend to support Republicans for office in Kentucky.

The bill passed both chambers on a mostly party line-basis. Some rural Republican legislators, where teachers and other school district employees make up a disproportionate number of the district, voted against the bill.