The General Assembly meets annually in the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, convening on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. In even-numbered years, sessions may not last more than 60 legislative days, and cannot extend beyond April 15. In odd-numbered years, sessions may not last more than 30 legislative days, and cannot extend beyond March 30. Special sessions may be called by the Governor of Kentucky at any time for any duration.
The first meeting of the General Assembly occurred in 1792, shortly after Kentucky was granted statehood. Legislators convened in Lexington, the state's temporary capital. Among the first orders of business was choosing a permanent state capital. In the end, the small town of Frankfort, with their offer to provide a temporary structure to house the legislature and a cache of materials for constructing a permanent edifice, was chosen, and the state's capital has remained there ever since.
After women gained suffrage in Kentucky, Mary Elliott Flanery was elected to the Kentucky House of Representative from the 89th District representing Boyd County, Kentucky. When Flanery took her seat in January 1922, she was the first female state legislator elected in Kentucky and the first female legislator elected south of the Mason–Dixon line.
Officially, Kentucky remained neutral during the Civil War. However, the majority of the General Assembly had strong Union sympathies. A group of Confederate sympathizers met in Russellville to establish a Confederate government for the state. The group decided to establish the Confederate state capital in Bowling Green, but never successfully displaced the elected General Assembly in Frankfort.
The General Assembly played a decisive role in the disputed gubernatorial election of 1900. Initial vote tallies had Republican William S. Taylor leading Democrat William Goebel by a scant 2,383 votes. The General Assembly, however, wielded the final authority in election disputes. With a majority in both houses, the Democrats attempted to invalidate enough votes to give the election to Goebel. During the contentious days that followed, an unidentified assassin shot Goebel as he approached the state capitol.
As Goebel hovered on the brink of death, chaos ensued in Frankfort, and further violence threatened. Taylor, serving as governor pending a final decision on the election, called out the militia and ordered the General Assembly into a special session, not in Frankfort, but in London, Kentucky, a Republican area of the state. The Republican minority naturally heeded the call and headed to London. Democrats predictably resisted the call, many retiring to Louisville instead. Both factions claimed authority, but the Republicans were too few in number to muster a quorum.
Goebel died four days after receiving the fatal shot, and the election was eventually contested to the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled the General Assembly's actions legal and made Goebel's lieutenant governor, J. C. W. Beckham, governor of the state.
The General Assembly is bicameral, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The House and Senate chambers are on opposite ends of the third floor of the capitol building, and legislators have offices in the nearby Capitol Annex building.
Section 33 of the Kentucky Constitution requires that the General Assembly divide the state into 38 Senate and 100 House districts. Districts are required to be as nearly equal in population as possible. Districts can be formed by joining more than one county, but the counties forming a district must be contiguous. Districts must be reviewed every 10 years and be re-divided if necessary.
The Senate is the upper house of the General Assembly.
According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, a state senator must:
Under section 30 of the Kentucky Constitution, senators are elected to four year staggered terms, with half the Senate elected every two years.
Prior to a 1992 constitutional amendment, the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky presided over the Senate; the 1992 amendment created a new office of President of the Senate to be held by one of the 38 senators.
|Republican Party||Democratic Party|
|Floor Leader||Damon Thayer (R-17)||Ray S. Jones II (D-31)|
|Whip||Jimmy Higdon (R-14)||Julian M. Carroll (D-7)|
|Caucus chair||Dan Seum (R-38)||Dorsey Ridley (D-4)|
The House of Representatives is the lower house of the General Assembly. Section 47 of the Kentucky Constitution stipulates that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives.
According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, a state representative must:
Per section 30 of the Kentucky Constitution, representatives are elected every two years in the November following a regular session of the General Assembly.
Additionally, each party elects a floor leader, whip, and caucus chair.
|Republican Party||Democratic Party|
|Leader||Jonathan Shell (R-71)||Rocky Adkins (D-99)|
|Whip||Kevin D. Bratcher (R-29)||Wilson Stone (D-22)|
|Caucus chair||David Meade (R-80)||Dennis Keene (D-67)|
Senate Standing Committees and Chairs
House Standing Committees and Chairs
The Kentucky General Assembly is served by a 16-member nonpartisan agency called the Legislative Research Commission (LRC). Created in 1948, the LRC provides the General Assembly with staff and research support including committee staffing, bill drafting, oversight of the state budget and educational reform, production of educational materials, maintenance of a reference library and Internet site, and the preparation and printing of research reports, informational bulletins and a legislative newspaper. It is led by the elected leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties in both the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Kentucky Senate, while the agency is run on a day-to-day basis by a Director. The current Director of the Legislative Research Commission is David Byerman.