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Ballot measure would give lawmakers more days to meet

March 2, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky voters could decide whether to give lawmakers the option to extend the number of days they meet under a proposal that won Senate approval Monday.

The proposed constitutional amendment cleared the Senate on a 31-4 vote and now returns to the House, which will consider changes to the bill. The proposed ballot measure would go before the state’s electorate in 2022 if it clears the Republican-dominated legislature.

The proposal seeks to amend Kentucky’s constitution to give lawmakers the option to be in session up to 12 extra days each year, in addition to their regular sessions — which last for 60 days in even-numbered years and 30 days in odd-numbered years. Lawmakers could reconvene for the additional days through a joint proclamation from the House speaker and Senate president.

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Now, once lawmakers end their regular session, they can’t reconvene until the next year unless called into special session by the governor. Republican lawmakers found themselves on the sidelines for most of 2020 as Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear issued orders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal would not change a governor’s ability to call special sessions.

Republican Sen. David Givens said the measure would give the legislature a chance “to become a more co-equal branch of government.”

Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey said the legislature needs “to evolve and change to meet the needs of a modern world,” but he called for broader discussions on how to accomplish that.

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The legislation is House Bill 4.