Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1, Changes to Legislative Session End Dates and Special Sessions Measure (2022)
Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1, also known as the Changes to Legislative Session End Dates and Special Sessions Amendment, was on the ballot in Kentucky as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 8, 2022. The measure sought to amend the Kentucky Constitution to allow the state legislature to change the end date of the legislative session through a three-fifths vote in each chamber. It also would have allowed the House speaker and the Senate president to jointly call a special legislative session up to 12 days. However, the amendment was defeated with 53.55% voting no.
Background on Legislative Sessions in Kentucky
Currently, the Kentucky Constitution establishes specific start and end dates for regular legislative sessions. It also states that only the governor can call special sessions. Proponents of Amendment 1 argued that the changes would allow for more flexibility and balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Opponents said it would weaken the governor’s office and lead to a full-time legislature.
What Amendment 1 Would Have Done
Had it passed, Amendment 1 would have removed the legislative session end dates specified in the constitution. Instead, the legislature could have changed the end date through a 3/5 vote in each chamber. It also would have allowed the House Speaker and Senate President to jointly call a special session up to 12 days annually. Currently only the governor can call special sessions.
Changes to Legislative Session Dates
Amendment 1 would have repealed Sections 36, 42, and 55 of the Kentucky Constitution’s article on the Legislative Department. These sections establish the start and end dates for regular sessions. The amendment would have replaced them with new language allowing the legislature to set its own calendar by a 3/5 vote in each chamber.
Allowing Special Sessions
In addition to changing the session dates, Amendment 1 would have permitted the House Speaker and Senate President to jointly call a special session up to 12 days per year. This power has been reserved for the governor in Kentucky.
Full Text of Amendment
The full text of Amendment 1 made various changes to repeal and replace Sections 36, 42, and 55 of the state constitution. The complete verbiage can be read here.
Amendment 1 was supported by the Republican majority in the state legislature, including the House Speaker and Senate President. GOP state representatives and senators argued it would allow for a more equal balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.
Governor Andy Beshear opposed Amendment 1, saying it would weaken the governor’s office. The Kentucky Conservation Committee and League of Women Voters also argued against it. They said it could lead to a full-time legislature which voters didn’t want.
Arguments from Supporters
- Allow a more co-equal balance of power between branches
- Enable legislature to address crises like COVID pandemic
- Create efficiency and flexibility in legislative calendar
Arguments from Opponents
- Weaken the governor’s office
- Could lead to full-time legislature
- Current system works; only need special sessions in emergencies
Outcome of Vote
When Kentuckians cast their ballots on November 8, 2022, a majority chose to defeat Amendment 1. With 100% of precincts reporting, the tally was 53.55% opposed to 46.45% in favor.
- Yes: 602,226 (46.45%)
- No: 694,311 (53.55%)
Map of Support
Most counties in Kentucky voted down Amendment 1. Opposition was concentrated in metro areas like Louisville and Lexington. Rural Eastern and Western counties saw more support. But only about a dozen small counties backed the amendment.
Campaign Finance Information
Official campaign finance reports for Amendment 1 are not yet available. Because it originated in the legislature, there were no registered amendment committees. The majority parties supported it, while the minority parties mostly opposed it.
There were no large donors or expenditures disclosed related to Amendment 1. Without registered campaigns, fundraising and spending did not occur.
Major Papers Opposing
- Lexington Herald-Leader
- Louisville Courier Journal
- Bowling Green Daily News
Editorial Boards Supporting
No major newspapers endorsed Amendment 1. The editors that did publish opinions mostly came out against it.
Background on Legislative Sessions in Kentucky
Current Rules on Session Dates
The Kentucky Constitution currently mandates the legislature convene on set days in January and adjourn by March 30 in odd years and April 15 in even years. There is an annual session limit of 30 days in odd years and 60 days in even years.
How Other States Allow Special Sessions
In 2022, most states (36) permitted the legislature itself to call special sessions, not just the governor. Kentucky was in the minority (14 states) where only the governor had this power.
Other 2022 Ballot Measures Related to COVID
Amendment 1 was one of several pandemic-related measures on ballots in 2022. Arkansas and Idaho also had amendments to allow special legislative sessions.
Path to the Ballot
To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, 60% of each chamber in the Kentucky legislature must approve.
Votes in the Legislature
Amendment 1 passed the Senate 31-4 and the House 78-16, exceeding the 60% threshold in both chambers. The votes largely followed party lines.
Kentuckians had to register to vote by October 11, 2022 to cast a ballot on Amendment 1.
Voter ID Laws
Kentucky has photo ID requirements for voting. Acceptable forms include KY driver’s license, US passport, student ID, and others.
Polling Places and Times
Polling places were open 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM local time. Voters needed to go to their assigned precinct location.
The defeat of Amendment 1 means the rules governing legislative sessions and special sessions will remain unchanged in Kentucky. The legislature will continue convening on fixed dates set in the state constitution. And the power to call special sessions will stay solely in the hands of the governor rather than the House Speaker and Senate President. The impact moving forward is continuation of the current system with two annual sessions restricted by length and calendar.
What would Amendment 1 have done?
Amendment 1 would have allowed the Kentucky legislature to change the end dates of regular sessions with a 3/5 vote. It also would have permitted the House Speaker and Senate President to call special sessions.
Who supported Amendment 1?
The amendment was supported by Republican majorities in the state House and Senate along with GOP leaders like the Speaker and Senate President.
Who opposed the amendment?
Governor Andy Beshear was a leading opponent. Editorial boards and civic groups like the League of Women Voters also came out against Amendment 1.
What were the main arguments for and against?
Supporters argued Amendment 1 allowed more balance of power between branches. Opponents said it weakened the governor and could lead to a full-time legislature.
What was the final vote result?
Amendment 1 was defeated with 53.55% of Kentucky voters opposing the measure and 46.45% in favor.