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Kentucky General Assembly

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Title: Kentucky General Assembly  
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Kentucky General Assembly

Kentucky General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Houses Senate
House of Representatives
Robert Stivers (R)
Since January 4, 2013
Senate Majority Leader
Damon Thayer (R)
Since January 4, 2013
Greg Stumbo (D)
Since January 7, 2009
House Majority Leader
Rocky Adkins (D)
Since January 4, 2005
Seats 138
Political groups
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Last election
November 4, 2014
Meeting place
Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort

The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky.

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.


  • History 1
    • The Civil War 1.1
    • Assassination of Governor Goebel 1.2
  • Houses 2
    • Senate 2.1
      • Terms and qualifications 2.1.1
      • Leadership 2.1.2
    • House of Representatives 2.2
      • Terms and qualifications 2.2.1
      • Leadership 2.2.2
  • Standing committees 3
  • Legislative Research Commission 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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.[1]

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.[2]

Operation Boptrot lead to the conviction of more than a dozen legislators between 1992 and 1995. The investigation also led to reform legislation being passed in 1993.[3]

The Civil War

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.

Assassination of Governor Goebel

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]


The General Assembly is bicameral, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives.[7] 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.

Under the state constitution, only three counties may be divided to form a Senate district--Jefferson (Louisville), Fayette (Lexington) and Kenton (Covington).


Current composition of the Kentucky Senate (2013)[8]
Affiliation Members
  Republican Party 23
  Democratic Party 14
  Independent 1
 Total  38

The Senate is the upper house of the General Assembly.

Terms and qualifications

According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, 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 the district at least 1 year prior to election.

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.

Additionally, each party elects a floor leader, whip, and caucus chair.

Current party leadership of the Kentucky Senate[9]
Republican Party Democratic Party
Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-17) R. J. Palmer (D-28)
Whip Brandon Smith (R-30) Jerry Rhoads (D-6)
Caucus chair Dan Seum (R-38) Johnny Ray Turner (D-29)

House of Representatives

Current composition of the Kentucky House of Representatives (2013)[10]
Affiliation Members
  Democratic Party 54
  Republican Party 46
  Vacant seat 0
Total 100

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.

Terms and qualifications

According to Section 32 of the Kentucky Constitution, 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 the district at least 1 year prior to election.

Per section 30 of the Kentucky Constitution, representatives are elected every two years in the November following a regular session of the General Assembly.


  • Speaker (elected by full body): Greg Stumbo (D-95)
  • Speaker Pro Tempore (elected by full body): Larry Clark (D-46)

Additionally, each party elects a floor leader, whip, and caucus chair.

Current party leadership of the Kentucky House of Representatives[11]
Republican Party Democratic Party
Leader Jeffrey Hoover (R-83) Rocky Adkins (D-99)
Whip John Carney (R-51) Tommy Thompson (D-14)
Caucus chair Bob DeWeese (R-48) Sannie Overly (D-72)

Standing committees

Committee Senate House of Representatives
Committee on Committees vacant Greg Stumbo
Greg Stumbo
Agriculture and National Resources Tom Jensen Tom McKee
Appropriations and Revenue Bob Leeper Rick Rand
Budget Review Subcommittee on Education Brett Guthrie Tommy Thompson k-12 Arnold Simpson Post Sec.
Budget and Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, & Public Protection Jack Westwood Royce Adams
Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources Tom Buford Jimmie Lee
Budget and Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary Robert Stivers Jesse Crenshaw
Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation Ernie Harris Sanie Overly
Banking and Insurance Tom Buford Jeff Greer
Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Alice Kerr Ruth Ann Palumbo
Education Ken Winters Carl Rollins
Health and Welfare Julie Denton Tom Burch
Judiciary Tom Jensen John Tilley
Labor and Industry Rick Nelson
Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations John Schickel Dennis Keene
Local Government -- Steve Riggs
State and Local Government Damon Thayer
Natural Resources and Environment Brandon Smith James Gooch
State Government -- Mike Cherry
Seniors, Military Affairs, and Public Safety Jack Westwood Tanya Pullin
Transportation Ernie Harris Hubert Collins
Tourism Development and Energy -- Eddie Ballard

Legislative Research Commission

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.[12] The current Director of the Legislative Research Commission is David Byerman.

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Powers, James C. (1992). John E. Kleber, ed. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 323–324.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b McQueen, Keven (2001). "William Goebel: Assassinated Governor". Offbeat Kentuckians: Legends to Lunatics. Ill. by Kyle McQueen.  
  5. ^ a b Woodson, Urey (1939). The First New Dealer.  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ "The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky: Informational Bulletin No. 59" (PDF). Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. October 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  8. ^ "Senate Members". Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. January 8, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Senate Leaders: 2013". Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. January 8, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  10. ^ "House Members". Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. January 8, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ "House of Representatives Leaders: 2013". Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. January 8, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  12. ^ "About the Legislative Research Commission". Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. Retrieved 2007-01-09. 

External links

  • Kentucky Legislature Home Page
  • Kentucky Revised Statutes
  • Kentucky Educational Television General Assembly page
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