In November, Kentucky voters will be asked to approve – or reject – two amendments to the Kentucky Constitution.
The proposal within the second proposed amendment will be discussed in a future column. And it is important to differentiate between these proposed amendments to the Kentucky Constitution rather than the U.S. Constitution.
The current Kentucky Constitution is the last of four adopted by this state and dates to 1892. It is interesting to note that the U.S. Constitution, with all its amendments, is contained in 31 pages. The Kentucky Constitution comprises 199 pages and, unlike the U.S. version, which mostly limits government and gives powers to the people, primarily places limits on what the people can do and expands the power of state government.
It quickly becomes obvious that the drafters of our 1892 document took little guidance from those who compiled our national document of over 100 years earlier.
Added to that is the fact that amendments to the Kentucky document are offered nearly every election, which would seem to suggest that it is so flawed that it needs constant adjustment.
The question about Amendment No. 1 on the ballot is related to the powers of the legislature and the governor. The text of the question as it will appear on the ballot is not available at the time this is being written, but the content is described by the Legislative Research Commission as: “Removes legislative session end dates and provides that odd-year sessions are limited to 30 legislative days, and even-year sessions are limited to 60 legislative days, allows the state legislature to change the end date of the legislative session through a three-fifths vote in each chamber, provide that a special legislative session for up to 12 days may be called by the House speaker and the Senate president and change provisions regarding when a law takes effect.”
See the problem?
First, it attacks too many issues at once and unnecessarily complicates the proposal. Second, it shifts powers now lawfully exercised by other segments of government, placing them within the legislature, which incidentally is the body proposing the amendment. Third, and most onerous, is the proposal to allow the legislature to call itself into session, a power now residing with the governor under the balance of powers that should exist within government.
And what seems profoundly apparent is that, if the governor were a member of the same party which now overwhelmingly controls the House and Senate of the state, this proposal would never have been brought up.
It makes no difference whether the governor is a Democrat and the legislature Republican or vice versa. Proposals to changes in our Constitution should not be based on either party attempting to garner more power for itself in opposition to the controls and balances contained within that document.
Remember the comment above about how our state Constitution seems to define powers for the government rather than for the people. This amendment continues that trend.
Amendment Number 1 deserves a NO vote in November.