State legislature reconvenes after month-long break

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lawmakers reconvened for the legislative session after about a month-long break and it was a short day for senators, lasting just about two hours.

Kentucky’s individual income tax rate is one of the topics on some senators’ minds. At the beginning of this year, the tax rate dropped and may drop even further next year.

Senators from both sides of the aisle expect to vote on House Bill 1 Wednesday. This bill would cut Kentucky’s income tax rate from 4.5% to 4%. The tax cuts are the result of House Bill 8 passed in the 2022 session.

The Republican-backed bill passed the state house before the break in January. Senator Damon Thayer says he expects the bill will pass the senate without a problem but critics argue the cuts mostly help the wealthy and disproportionately burden low-income Kentuckians. They also argue the income tax cuts are permanent.

“I want the public to know that within that bill our tax increases on sales. So tax like utilities, taxes like schools camps, taxes on a number of different services that really take away and really increases taxes for some middle-class people,” says Democratic Senator Reginald Thomas.

“It means people will be able to keep more of what they earn. Every time we cut taxes by half a percentage point that’s about $650-million that doesn’t come to government, that stays in people’s paychecks and they can decide how to spend themselves. It’s a big win for Kentucky taxpayers,” says Republican Senator Damon Thayer.

Tax rates aren’t the only hot-button topic. Medical marijuana has been blocked in the state senate for the last few years, but some are saying this is the year we could see it become legal.

Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order on medical marijuana went into effect on January 1, 2023. The order only allows Kentuckians with certain medical conditions to use medical marijuana in the state if it’s been purchased legally from another state.

“You know, I think a tightly crafted medical marijuana bill that only delivers it through a chewable or gummy and not a smokable and for a small list of afflictions, it might have a chance in the senate this year,” says Thayer.

“I think it has a good opportunity you know we’re going to see where it goes,” says Thomas. “What we do know is this if it passes the senate, it will pass the house and become law.”

At this time, state legislators don’t know of a timeline for when a medical marijuana bill could hit the floor. The regular session will resume Wednesday at 2 P.M. and wrap on March 30th.

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