The 2023 legislative session runs from January 3 through March 30. The time from March 17 through March 28 is known as the veto period.
What is the veto period?
The veto period is a 10-day stretch for the Governor to veto any bills passed by the General Assembly. Lawmakers will return for the final two days of the legislative session on March 29 and 30. During that time they will have one last chance to pass bills and the opportunity to override any of Governor Beshear's vetoes, enacting those bills into law over his objections.
Lawmakers will not have the chance to override any vetoes on bills passed during the final two days, so they typically pass their priority legislation before the veto period. Lawmakers generally pass bills that are unlikely to receive a veto during the final two days. The governor must sign or veto a bill within 10 working days of the General Assembly passing a bill. If they decline to act, the bill will become law without their signature. Lawmakers set the calendar for the legislative session which is why the veto period is strategically timed in the General Assembly's favor.
Overriding a veto is fairly easy in Kentucky. Lawmakers need a constitutional majority to override a veto and enact a bill into law. That means they only need 50% plus one vote of the total number of elected members in each chamber. The constitutional majorities are 51 votes in the 100-seat House of Representatives and 20 votes in the 38-seat Senate. (Putting vetoes aside, bills can pass out of the General Assembly with a simple majority of votes, meaning they need only more yes votes than no votes. For instance, a bill could pass the House of Representatives 47 to 23 if several members are absent or abstain from voting.)
Most new laws go into effect 90 days after the last day of the legislative session. The session ends on Thursday, March 30, 2023, so most new laws will go into effect on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
Some bills have an emergency provision. These laws go into effect immediately upon the governor signing the bill into law or the Kentucky General Assembly voting to override a veto. Bills with emergency provisions include the phrase "declaring an emergency" in their title.
We urged Governor Beshear to veto several pieces of legislation that will undermine your civil rights and liberties.
These bills include:
- Senate Bill 5: a "parents' rights" bill that will lead to banning free exchange of books and ideas, and further burden an already overtaxed public education system.
- Senate Bill 9: creates a new class D felony.
- Senate Bill 150: the worst anti-trans bill in the country that bans all gender-affirming care for minors, allows school staff to misgender students, forces youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to detransition, and requires parental "opt-in" for sexual education curriculum.
- House Bill 249: expands eligibility for the flawed death penalty system.
- House Bill 547: violates separation of church and state by allowing public school employees to display and share religious materials.