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Explainer: Rule Change in KY Senate

Written by Senator Adrienne Southworth, copied from Facebook

January 2, 2023


A lot of people have asked me this week if what is floating around about the new proposed senate rules is true that allows a member to be kicked out of their caucus. Plainly, YES. However, what many may not realize is it will also allow what I would call Trans-partyism, where senators can be swapped out of caucuses.


Here is a breakdown of how it works: According to the Constitution, Senators have to follow a few key requirements, but largely make their own rules. A longstanding senate rule has been that whatever party you are registered with is what caucus you belong to. The new rule would allow caucuses to vote members out and vote others in who may be registered differently.


What does all this mean? For the kick out portion of the rule, it will basically be used by party leadership to persuade or force the caucus membership to kick out any member of the caucus for any reason. The caucus provides vital information, staff, and networking to pass legislation. This rule could be a new tool to put caucus members over a barrel for votes. Engaging in the deliberative process independently needs to happen more, not less.


But let’s not forget Trans-partyism. Currently, if you are a sitting senator and you want to change parties, you must do so on your voter registration where you live. At the next election, you will be running with a different letter by your name in the party you changed to. Your voters will be fully informed and must choose based on your actual identity, whatever it is. And that is how you will be identified in Frankfort as well. This new rule would provide certain senators a different identity in Frankfort than they have in their districts, as they would have influence in the party they caucus with. Can any good come from the uni-party this would create?


Many other states are losing integrity once they head down this slippery slope. Colorado's opening primaries to cross over voters has all but removed any semblance of accountability. Texas Republicans have been fighting against Democrat chairmen in their Republican legislature. Here in Kentucky, a Republican majority legislature could admit Democrat party members to their caucus and then allow them to be chairmen in committees, thus allowing them to set the agenda.


There are many ways to work civilly and cooperatively with all shades of the constituent spectrum without living two lives, one in our home district and another in Frankfort. If politicians want to identify as a different party, they are welcome to register that way so their voters know what they are. This idea of being one way on paper and identifying as another when convenient sounds like a recipe for corruption.


Tomorrow, Tuesday at noon, the Senate will be voting on this rule (per the draft it is Rule 44A), which should be Senate Resolution 2 (we won’t know for sure until tomorrow). Thanks to those who have voiced your concerns on this issue already. I will always side with transparency and accountability, so you can count on my no vote Tuesday.

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