Tagkentucky

Stories about Kentucky

Six abortion-related measures are on the ballot in 2022—the most on record for a single year

In 2022, there are six ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record. Measures have been certified for the ballot in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Votes on these ballot measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.

Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. These measures are also the first abortion-related ballot measures since 1992 to have the support of organizations that describe themselves as pro-choice/pro-reproductive rights.

In August, voters in Kansas rejected a measure to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Turnout on the amendment was 49%, exceeding the number of votes cast in the state’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries on August 2. On November 8, voters in Kentucky will decide on a similar amendment. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. 

In November, voters will decide on five abortion-related ballot measures:

  • California Proposition 1: Amends the California Constitution to provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives
  • Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2: Amends the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding of abortions
  • Michigan Proposal 3: Amends the Michigan Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraception, and other matters related to pregnancy
  • Montana LR-131: Provides, in state law, that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and requires medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method
  • Vermont Amendment: Amends the Vermont Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy

From 1970 to August 2022, there have been 48 abortion-related ballot measures, and 41 (85%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27%) and rejected 30 (73%) of these 41 ballot measures. The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%).

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Kentucky announces plans to launch mobile unemployment insurance office

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) announced plans on May 11 to launch a mobile office that aims to help citizens access unemployment insurance services. The office aims to help those in poorer communities complete tasks like filing for unemployment benefits, verifying their identities, and determining their eligibility for benefits.

The mobile office will be funded with money from a $4.5 million UI Equity Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. $2.3 million is going to the mobile office, and the remaining funds will help to establish a new self-serve unemployment insurance portal and system-generated text and push notifications that will keep claimants updated on the statuses of their claims.

The OUI did not offer a specific date for the launch.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

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McGarvey defeats Scott for Democratic nomination in Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District

Morgan McGarvey defeated Attica Scott in the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District on May 17, 2022. As of 11:45 a.m. ET on May 18, McGarvey had received 63% of the vote and Scott had 37%. Incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth (D)—first elected to represent the district in 2006—did not run for re-election. This is the first open-seat race in the Louisville-area district since 1994. 

McGarvey is a member of the Kentucky State Senate, having first been elected to the legislature in 2012, and has served as the Democrats’ minority leader since 2019. McGarvey described himself as a champion of progressive values and said on his website, “As the Democratic Minority Leader in the Kentucky State Senate, I’ve spent my career standing up to the Trump-Bevin Republicans in Frankfort. I’ve stood firm on our progressive values to protect health care and teachers’ pensions, promote clean energy and defend choice so that Kentucky doesn’t look like Texas.” McGarvey announced he was running for this seat on the same day that Yarmuth said he would not run for re-election.

Scott served on the Louisville City Council from 2011 to 2014 and as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives since 2016. At the time of her election to the legislature, she was the first Black woman to win such an office in 20 years.

According to campaign finance reports through April 27, McGarvey raised $1.5 million and spent $1.1 million. Scott raised $236,000 and spent $196,000.

University of Kentucky political science professor Steve Voss told the Louisville Courier-Journal in February 2022 that “Democrats have close to a 2-1 advantage over the GOP in terms of voters’ party registration in this congressional district.” As of May 2022, three independent outlets rated the general election as Solid Democratic. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) in Kentucky’s 3rd, 60% to 38%.

McGarvey will face the winner of the district’s Republican primary in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Kentucky governor signs bill extending unemployment tax rate freeze

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) signed House Bill 144 into law on March 24, freezing the state’s unemployment insurance tax rate at 2020 pre-pandemic levels for 2022. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce estimated businesses would have paid about $70 more in taxes per employee if the tax rate had unfrozen. Kentucky’s unemployment insurance tax rate is normally tied to the solvency of the state’s unemployment trust fund. Due to increased unemployment insurance fillings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the trust fund was depleted, which would have triggered higher unemployment insurance taxes without the bill.

Employers pay state unemployment taxes to fund the unemployment insurance program. Each state sets its own tax rate range, wage base (the amount of pay an employer needs to pay taxes on for each employee), and experience rating system.

Employers also pay federal unemployment taxes under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Kentucky’s unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

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McGarvey, Scott face off in Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District

Morgan McGarvey and Attica Scott are running in the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District on May 17. Incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth (D) announced on Oct. 12, 2021, that he was not running for re-election.

McGarvey is a member of the Kentucky State Senate, having first been elected to the legislature in 2012. He has served as the Democrats’ minority leader in the Senate since 2019. McGarvey described himself as a champion of progressive values and said on his website, “As the Democratic Minority Leader in the Kentucky State Senate, I’ve spent my career standing up to the Trump-Bevin Republicans in Frankfort. I’ve stood firm on our progressive values to protect health care and teachers’ pensions, promote clean energy and defend choice so that Kentucky doesn’t look like Texas.” Yarmuth endorsed McGarvey on Feb. 7.

Scott served on the Louisville City Council from 2011 to 2014 and as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives since 2016. Scott announced her candidacy in July 2021 before Yarmuth announced he was not running. After announcing her campaign, she said during an interview with Spectrum News 1, “I want people to know that I stand for economic justice, environmental justice, health justice, racial justice. Over and over again, Black people, Latinx people, Asian people, Indigenous people, our issues get overlooked because we’re not in office to bring them up.”

The Louisville-area district hasn’t had an open-seat race since 1994. Morgan Watkins of the Louisville Courier Journal wrote, “political experts say the pursuit of Yarmuth’s job is poised to be the least predictable race, and certainly the most interesting primary contest” in the state, with “experts say[ing] the big clash for Yarmuth’s seat will happen in the Democratic primary rather than the general election.”

University of Kentucky political science professor Steve Voss told the Louisville Courier Journal, “Democrats have close to a 2-1 advantage over the GOP in terms of voters’ party registration in this congressional district.” As of February 2022, three independent outlets rated the general election as Solid Democratic. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) in Kentucky’s 3rd, 60% to 38%.

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Kentucky sees largest number of U.S. House candidates since at least 2014

Thirty-one candidates are running for Kentucky’s six U.S. House districts in 2022, including nine Democrats and 22 Republicans. This equals 5.2 candidates per district, the most candidates per district since 2014. The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Kentucky was Jan. 25, 2022.

Democrats currently represent one U.S. House district in Kentucky and Republicans represent five.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election taking place with new district lines following the 2020 census. Kentucky was apportioned six districts, the same number it received after the 2010 census.
  • One district—the 3rd—is open with Rep. John Yarmuth (D) retiring from politics. Yarmuth first won election in 2006 after defeating Rep. Anne Northup (R). The 3rd District has not been open since 1994.
  • This is the first election cycle since 2016 featuring an open U.S. House district in Kentucky.
  • Eight of the 12 possible major party primaries (67%) are contested, more contested primaries than in 2020 and the same number as 2018. There will be three contested Democratic primaries and five contested Republican primaries.
  • Four of five incumbents running for re-election face primary challengers, the same number as 2020. All five incumbents are Republicans.
  • Every district will feature major party competition, meaning at least one Democrat and one Republican filed to run. Since 2014, only the 2016 election cycle saw uncontested general elections for U.S. House in Kentucky when two Republicans won without any Democratic opposition.
  • Nine candidates, two Democrats and seven Republicans, are running in the open 3rd district, more than any other.

Kentucky and four other states—Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—are holding primary elections on May 17.

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Kentucky unemployment insurance audit identifies problems with system

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon’s office released a report identifying nine issues with Kentucky’s unemployment insurance program, including problems with security and the state’s auto-pay system. The report also found that the state paid over $195 million to over 28,000 out-of-state claimants between June 2020 and June 2021.

Unemployment insurance refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

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Kentucky filing deadline update: 51% of state legislative districts are contested by only one of the two major parties

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Kentucky was Jan. 25, 2022. State legislative elections will take place in 19 of the 38 state Senate districts and all 100 state House districts. In all, 256 candidates filed for those 119 districts: 88 Democrats and 168 Republicans. This equals 2.2 candidates per district, up from 2.0 in 2020 but lower than the 2.4 in 2018.

Republicans currently hold a 30-8 majority in the Senate and the 75-24 majority in the House. One House district, most recently represented by Rep. Reginald Meeks (D), is vacant and will be filled in a Feb. 22 special election.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Of the 119 districts holding elections, either a Democrat or Republican is likely to win 61 (51.3%) because no candidates from the opposing party filed. Democrats will likely win 12 districts—one in the Senate and 11 in the House—because no Republicans filed to run for them. Republicans will likely win 49 districts—nine in the Senate and 40 in the House. This is the least amount of major party competition in the state since 2012 when 63 districts saw no major party competition (52.9%).
  • Twenty-one of the 119 districts holding elections (17.6%) are open, meaning no incumbent is running. This is a larger percentage than 2020 (14.2%) but lower than 2018 (18.5%). Four of these districts are open because the incumbents representing those districts were drawn into new districts as a result of redistricting.
  • There will be 59 contested primaries out of a possible 238 (24.8%). This is the largest number of contested primaries in the state since at least 2014.

Kentucky’s primaries are the sixth in the nation alongside four other states: Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. All five states will hold primary elections on May 17.

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Kentucky statewide filing deadline passed on Jan 25

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Kentucky passed on Jan 25. Candidates filed for the following offices: 

  • U.S. Senate (one seat)
  • U.S. House (six seats)
  • Incumbent John Yarmuth (D) is not running for re-election in Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District.
  • Incumbents filed to run in the other five House races.
  • State Senate (19 seats)
  • State House (100 seats)
  • State Supreme Court
  • Intermediate appellate courts

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:

  • Frankfort, Lexington, and Louisville
  • Fayette County Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools

The primary is scheduled for May 17, and the general election is scheduled for Nov 8.

Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline was the second to take place in the 2022 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on Jan. 28 in Alabama. 

Entering the 2022 election, the Kentucky state House has 24 Democrats, 75 Republicans, and one vacancy. All 100 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. Kentucky has a divided government and no state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. 

Entering the 2022 election, the Kentucky State Senate has eight Democrats and 30 Republicans. There are 19 seats up for election. 

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Kentucky adopts new congressional map after legislature overrides gubernatorial veto

Kentucky enacted new congressional districts on Jan. 20 when the general assembly overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of legislation establishing the state’ new congressional map. Beshear vetoed Senate Bill 3 —the congressional redistricting legislation —on Jan. 19. Kentucky was apportioned six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Kentucky’s 2022 congressional elections.

The vote to override the governor’s veto was 26-8 in the state Senate with 23 Republicans and three Democrats in favor and five Democrats and three Republicans opposed. The override vote was 64-24 in the state House, with all votes in favor by Republicans and 21 Democrats and three Republicans voting to sustain Beshear’s veto. Republicans have a majority in both chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly. 

Senate Bill 3 was introduced in the Kentucky State Senate on Jan. 4. The Senate voted 28-4 in favor of the map on Jan. 6 followed by the House voting 65-25 in favor on Jan. 8. 

Greg Giroux of Bloomberg Government wrote that the “congressional map [is] designed to preserve a 5–1 Republican advantage in Kentucky’s U.S. House delegation.” Giroux added, “The map most notably boosts Rep. Andy Barr (R), whose central 6th District in and around Lexington will become more Republican-friendly in part by transferring the state capital of Frankfort to the western 1st District of Rep. James Comer (R).”

As of Jan. 21, 25 states have adopted congressional district maps, two states have approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect, one state’s map was struck down by its state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 16 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of Jan. 21 in 2012, 32 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 274 of the 435 seats (63.0%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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