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Senate oks Chris McDaniel’s bill to move election for governor, constitutional officers; goes to House

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A proposed constitutional amendment to move Kentucky’s election for governor and other constitutional officers is the first bill to clear a chamber during the 2020 session.

Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, is the sponsor of the bill, which he has presented for eight years in a row, and says lawmakers have missed the opportunity to save money.

“The Commonwealth would have saved $3.5 million and the counties would have saved $13.5 million, by making a simple move to align our constitutional elections with even-numbered years.”

Chris McDaniel (Photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today

McDaniel says his bill would not extend the current term of anyone in office.

“It would put a question on the ballot this fall to move the constitutional elections for the Commonwealth to 2028.”

That means that during the transition to even-numbered years, winners of the 2023 election would get a five-year term.

“It’s a simple bill that increases voter participation, it saves money at the commonwealth and county levels, and it very simply is a good government measure,” McDaniel told his colleagues.

He adds it will also help a new governor when they take office.

“They get sworn in, and six weeks later they have to present a budget that spends $60 billion.
That’s set up a Cabinet, get requests in and try to figure out how you’re going to fund government for the next two year,” he said. “With this simple alignment, a governor coming in would have a whole year under the old budget system, so he could have a new Cabinet in place and begin to prepare a more effective, efficient and competent budget.”

With little discussion, the measure passed 31-3.

Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, was one of the “no” votes.

“I think the issues that face Kentucky need to take the forefront in any debate, in any election; and not be drowned out by millions of dollars in advertisement on the national level,” she said. “I feel like our system now protects Kentucky’s interest in that regard.”

McDaniel spoke to reporters afterward about why the measure passed the Senate seven previous times, but never cleared the House.

“I think there have been different motivations,” he said. “Some of them partisan, sometimes timing issues, differences in opinions on how we should handle these things. Should you go a three-year term rather than a five-year term? But I think we sent a pretty good message today about the level of support that this measure really enjoys, and hopefully, we’ll get it across this year.”

He noted this is the widest margin of passage in his eight attempts.

The measure now goes to the House.

If it passes, voters would decide on the proposed constitutional amendment in the November general election.

The legislation is Senate Bill 3.

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