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  • Kentucky's present Constitution, adopted in 1891 and amended several times since, contains a number of provisions that govern the legislative branch
  • These provisions define session dates, legislative districts, terms and qualifications of office, the conduct of legislative business, legislative leadership, and legislative support staff.

Session Dates

  • The General Assembly meets annually in Frankfort 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.
  • A "legislative day" is defined as a calendar day, excluding Sundays, legal holidays, and any day on which neither house meets.
  • Special Sessions may be called by the Governor to deal with specific subjects. There is no time limit, but special sessions are usually brief.

Rules

  • Rules and Committees, adopted separately by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, when the General Assembly meets in Session, serve as a code governing the proceedings of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively,  and their committees.
  • New Rules may be adopted at the beginning of each Session

Legislative Districts

  • The General Assembly is required to divide the state into 38 Senate districts and 100 House districts.
  • Districts must be as nearly equal in population as possible, and although Section 33 of the Constitution prohibits the addition of a part of one county to another in defining a district or the joining of more than two counties to make a Representative district, a federal District Court has held that these provisions must give way to the standard of equality of representation required by the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution and also in Section 33.
  • A 1994 Kentucky Supreme Court decision (Fisher v. State Board of Elections, et al) recognized that counties must be split to achieve population equality to accommodate both principles to the extent permissible under federal law.
  • The counties forming a district must be contiguous, according to Section 33. Districts must be reviewed every 10 years and be re-divided if necessary.

Terms and Qualifications

A STATE SENATOR must:
  • be at least 30 years old;
  • be a citizen of Kentucky;
  • have resided in the state at least 6 years and in the district at least 1 year prior to the election.
Senators are elected for four year terms, with half the Senate elected every two years.
A STATE REPRESENTATIVE must:
  • be at least 24 years old;
  • be a citizen of Kentucky;
  • have resided in the state at least 2 years and in the district at least 1 year prior to the election.
Representatives are elected for two year terms in November following the regular session of the General Assembly. The entire House is elected at the same time.

Legislative Leadership

Senate

  • The President and the President Pro Tem are elected by the full membership of that body.

House of Representatives

  • The Speaker of the House and the Speaker Pro Tem are elected by the full membership of that body.

Legislative Party Leaders - Senate and House

  • Floor leaders, Caucus chairs and Whips - are selected by Democratic and Republican caucuses in both chambers during the organizational portion of the odd year session. These members are responsible for seeing that the interests of their parties are well served.

Legislative Support Staff

  • The Constitution also specifies constitutional officers to carry out clerical and support activities for the General Assembly.
  • Among these are the Chief Clerks elected by each chamber, responsible for minutes of sessions, roll calls, bill calendars, recording committee assignments, certifying the passage of bills and resolutions, and the official Journal of each chamber.
  • The Sergeants-at-arms clear unauthorized persons from the floor of the House and Senate before each session and as otherwise directed; compel the attendance of members sent for by the House; direct the delivery of mail, supervise the pages, and clear the galleries if there is a disturbance.
  • Other officers authorized by the constitution include doorkeepers, pages, janitors, and cloakroom keepers.