Kentucky taxpayers deserve better than the slow-starting legislative sessions they get every other year, when most lawmakers are up for re-election, some legislators said Wednesday as they approved a bill aimed at speeding up their colleagues.
Candidates for the state legislature, whose elections are only in even-numbered years, now have until the last Tuesday in January to file for office. Legislative sessions start in early January, but Kentucky lawmakers rarely tackle difficult topics until after finding out if they will have an election opponent.
Under a proposal approved Wednesday by a Senate committee, the candidate filing deadline would move to the first Friday after the first Monday in January.
State Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, said the filing deadline change he added Wednesday to House Bill 97 would start with next year’s races for state constitutional offices, such as governor and attorney general. HB 97, sponsored by Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, deals with filing campaign finance reports, but the Senate State and Local Government Committee added new language to change the filing deadline before approving it on a 11-0 vote and sending it to the full Senate.
“Whether it’s reality or perception, a lot of people believe that legislators are constantly waiting kind of for the clock to wind down until an opponent files or doesn’t file against them before they take action on some of the really critical big problems or big issues in Frankfort,” Schroder said. “We really just want to put that to rest. Let’s get the filing deadline moved up and we can get that behind us and keep going throughout the session.”
The chairman of the Senate committee, Republican Joe Bowen of Owensboro, said the filing deadline change is “good policy and eliminates the potential for us to play games in Frankfort.”
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said the Senate has tried for many years to change the deadline.
“It always has been a convenient excuse for not acting on legislation,” he said. The revised bill removes that excuse, he said, adding that “taxpayers deserve it.”