First day of legislative session starts Tuesday

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 21:42:27-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — All eyes are on Frankfort, where lawmakers are preparing for the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday.

The next few months could reveal the deep divisions of a divided government, but Gov. Andy Beshear is urging bi-partisan cooperation.

The government has to hammer out a budget and Beshear is expected to submit his plan later in January. He said that the budget will reflect his values.

"Education is going to come first," said Beshear. "And we're going to make sure we solve this teacher's shortage that we're seeing, which impacts our children's education year after year. We're going to do everything we can to reinvest in our classrooms."

Speaking to reporters after an inauguration ceremony for the five Kentucky constitutional officers, Beshear suggested his budget plan may assume new revenue generated from expanded gambling. That is, if it passes the Republican-led legislature.

"Well, I believe that sports better has a lot of support behind it," said Beshear. "Those that are in the Louisville market certainly get advertisements from Indiana every day, all day long. The fact is that we are losing dollars through expanded gaming to virtually every state around us."

Beshear estimated that sports betting could bring in tens of millions of dollars a year, but passing casino gambling appears to be a long shot.

Then there's medical marijuana, which Beshear said, if legalized, could be another revenue generator, but Republicans have rebuffed the idea of taxing it.

"It can be done in a revenue-positive way, where no one is priced out of medication they may need, but that will also help the budget in so many areas," Beshear said.

Bills pertaining to the legalization of medical marijuana and expanded gambling have already been pre-filed.

Both the House and the Senate will convene on Tuesday at noon.