Kentucky General Assembly
|Houses|| Senate |
House of Representatives
|Founded||May 26, 1845|
Senate Majority Leader
House Majority Leader
|Seats||138 voting members|
State Senate political groups
House of Representatives political groups
Length of term
| Senate 4 years|
House of Representatives 2 years
|Salary||$188.22/day + per diem|
|United we stand, divided we fall|
|Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort|
The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky. It comprises the Kentucky Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives.
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.
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.
Due to the strong Union sympathies of a majority of the commonwealth's citizens and elected officials, Kentucky remained officially neutral during the Civil War. Even so, a group of Confederate sympathizers met in Russellville in November 1861, to establish a Confederate government for the state. The group established a 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 1899. 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.
Under the state constitution, only three counties may be divided to form a Senate district—Jefferson (Louisville), Fayette (Lexington) and Kenton (Covington).
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.
Additionally, each party elects a floor leader, whip, and caucus chair.
|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||John "Bam" Carney (R-51)||Joni Jenkins (D-44)|
|Whip||Chad McCoy (R-50)||Angie Hatton (D-94)|
|Caucus chair||Suzanne Miles (R-7)||Derrick Graham (D-57)|
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 Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the head of Kentucky's executive branch of government. 62 men and one woman have served as Governor of Kentucky. The governor's term is four years in length; since 1992, incumbents have been able to seek re-election once before becoming ineligible for four years. Throughout the state's history, four men have served two non-consecutive terms as governor, and two others have served two consecutive terms. Kentucky is one of only five U.S. states that hold gubernatorial elections in odd-numbered years. The current governor is Andy Beshear, who was first elected in 2019.
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John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham was the 35th Governor of Kentucky and a United States Senator from Kentucky. He was the state's first popularly-elected senator after the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment.
James Bennett McCreary was an American lawyer and politician from Kentucky. He represented the state in both houses of the U.S. Congress and served as its 27th and 37th governor. Shortly after graduating from law school, he was commissioned as the only major in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, serving under Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan during the American Civil War. He returned to his legal practice after the war. In 1869, he was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives where he served until 1875; he was twice chosen Speaker of the House. At their 1875 nominating convention, state Democrats chose McCreary as their nominee for governor, and he won an easy victory over Republican John Marshall Harlan. With the state still feeling the effects of the Panic of 1873, most of McCreary's actions as governor were aimed at easing the plight of the state's poor farmers.
Ruby Laffoon was an American politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Kentucky from 1931 to 1935. A Kentucky native, at age 17 Laffoon moved to Washington, D.C., to live with his uncle, U.S. Representative Polk Laffoon. He developed an interest in politics and returned to Kentucky, where he compiled a mixed record of victories and defeats in elections at the county and state levels. In 1931, he was chosen as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee by a nominating convention, not a primary, making him the only Kentucky gubernatorial candidate to be chosen by a convention after 1903. In the general election, he defeated Republican William B. Harrison by what was then the largest margin of victory in Kentucky gubernatorial history.
The Kentucky Senate is the upper house of the Kentucky General Assembly. The Kentucky Senate is composed of 38 members elected from single-member districts throughout the Commonwealth. There are no term limits for Kentucky Senators. The Kentucky Senate meets at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.
The Kentucky House of Representatives is the lower house of the Kentucky General Assembly. It is composed of 100 Representatives elected from single-member districts throughout the Commonwealth. Not more than two counties can be joined to form a House district, except when necessary to preserve the principle of equal representation. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits. The Kentucky House of Representatives convenes at the State Capitol in Frankfort.
John White Stevenson was the 25th governor of Kentucky and represented the state in both houses of the U.S. Congress. The son of former Speaker of the House and U.S. diplomat Andrew Stevenson, John Stevenson graduated from the University of Virginia in 1832 and studied law under his cousin, future Congressman Willoughby Newton. After briefly practicing law in Mississippi, he relocated to Covington, Kentucky, and was elected county attorney. After serving in the Kentucky legislature, he was chosen as a delegate to the state's third constitutional convention in 1849 and was one of three commissioners charged with revising its code of laws, a task finished in 1854. A Democrat, he was elected to two consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives where he supported several proposed compromises to avert the Civil War and blamed the Radical Republicans for their failure.
Augustus Owsley Stanley I was an American politician from Kentucky. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 38th Governor of Kentucky and also represented the state in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. From 1903 to 1915, Stanley represented Kentucky's 2nd congressional district in the House of Representatives, where he gained a reputation as a progressive reformer. Beginning in 1904, he called for an antitrust investigation of the American Tobacco Company, claiming they were a monopsony that drove down prices for the tobacco farmers of his district. As a result of his investigation, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the breakup of the American Tobacco Company in 1911. Stanley also chaired a committee that conducted an antitrust investigation of U.S. Steel, which brought him national acclaim. Many of his ideas were incorporated into the Clayton Antitrust Act.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the document that governs the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It was first adopted in 1792 and has since been rewritten three times and amended many more. The later versions were adopted in 1799, 1850, and 1891.
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John Young Brown was a politician from the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. He represented the state in the United States House of Representatives and served as its 31st governor. Brown was elected to the House of Representatives for three non-consecutive terms, each of which was marred by controversy. He was first elected in 1859, despite his own protests that he was not yet twenty-five years old; the minimum age set by the Constitution for serving in the legislature. The voters of his district elected him anyway, but he was not allowed to take his seat until the Congress' second session, after he was of legal age to serve. After moving to Henderson, Kentucky, Brown was elected from that district in 1866. On this occasion, he was denied his seat because of alleged disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. Voters in his district refused to elect another representative, and the seat remained vacant throughout the term to which Brown was elected. After an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1871, Brown was again elected to the House in 1872 and served three consecutive terms. During his final term, he was officially censured for delivering a speech excoriating Massachusetts Representative Benjamin F. Butler. The censure was later expunged from the congressional record.
William Justus Goebel was an American politician who served as the 34th Governor of Kentucky for four days in 1900 after having been mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in. Goebel remains the only state governor in the United States to be assassinated while in office.
The following table indicates the party of elected officials in the U.S. state of Kentucky:
The 1899 Kentucky gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1899, to choose the 33rd governor of Kentucky. The incumbent, Republican William O'Connell Bradley, was term-limited and unable to seek re-election.
Taylor v. Beckham, 178 U.S. 548 (1900), was a case heard before the Supreme Court of the United States on April 30 and May 1, 1900, to decide the outcome of the disputed Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899. The litigants were Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Taylor and Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial candidate J. C. W. Beckham. In the November 7, 1899, election, Taylor received 193,714 votes to Democrat William Goebel's 191,331. This result was certified by a 2–1 decision of the state's Board of Elections. Goebel challenged the election results on the basis of alleged voting irregularities, and the Democrat-controlled Kentucky General Assembly formed a committee to investigate Goebel's claims. Goebel was shot on January 30, 1900, one day before the General Assembly approved the committee's report declaring enough Taylor votes invalid to swing the election to Goebel. As he lay dying of his wounds, Goebel was sworn into office on January 31, 1900. He died on February 3, 1900, and Beckham ascended to the governorship.
William O'Connell Bradley was a politician from the US state of Kentucky.
Bertram Robert Stivers II, is a Republican member of the Kentucky Senate representing the 25th Senate District since 1997. He served as the Republican Majority Leader of the Kentucky State Senate through 2012, and became the President of the Kentucky Senate on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session on January 8.