Legislature reconvenes with focus on passing new state budget
February 03, 2021
State lawmakers kicked off the remainder of the 2021 General Assembly this week with nearly a dozen bills related to higher education – and a new state budget – awaiting action in committee.
Before legislators gaveled out last month, Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled a $12 billion budget proposal that would channel $17 million in additional funding to postsecondary institutions – equal to a 2 percent increase in the state general fund.
The governor also proposed $50 million for much-needed asset preservation projects on postsecondary campuses and nearly $20 million to help regional universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System cover pension obligations.
However, the state House and Senate are expected to advance major revisions to the one-year spending plan over the coming weeks.
Both chambers passed versions of the budget last month that diverged significantly from Beshear's recommendations. However, the bills were largely procedural, providing a starting point for negotiations in committee.
In the meantime, legislators have filed at least 10 bills related to higher education, and here's a quick look at each measure:
House Bill 8 – Alters how pension liabilities are distributed among employers, including colleges and universities, in the Kentucky Employers Retirement System.
House Bill 10 – Addresses limitations on liability related to COVID-19 for employers and businesses.
Senate Bill 106 – Requires athletic teams to base participation on biological sex rather than gender identity.
House Bill 145 – Revises student disciplinary procedures and sets minimum procedural requirements.
Senate Bill 115 and House Bill 270 – Increase support and resources for early literacy education.
Senate Bill 117 – Allows postsecondary institutions to require student vaccinations. It includes certain exemptions based on medical history, religion or the full consent of a legal guardian.
House Bill 101 – Prohibits postsecondary institutions from requiring vaccinations for students who are not involved health care services.
House Bill 242 – Prohibits postsecondary institutions from enrolling, employing or contracting with undocumented immigrants. It would also require postsecondary institutions to keep records on an individual's immigration status and limit who qualifies as a Kentucky resident for in-state tuition purposes.
House Bill 253 – Requires high school students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in order to graduate.
Lawmakers are scheduled to wrap-up the bulk of the 30-day session by March 16 with two days set aside – March 29 and 30 – to override any potential vetoes from the governor.
Last Updated: 7/22/2021