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State lawmakers sworn in as 2023 Regular Session begins

By Brady Stein, KACo Graduate Assistant
Republican and Democratic caucuses formally elect leadership

The Kentucky General Assembly started the 2023 Regular Session Tuesday with a swearing-in of new and reelected legislators as the first order of business. (Thirty-one officials are freshman lawmakers; review KACo’s 2022 general election analysis here.) Republicans and Democrats also formally elected their caucus leadership teams in the Senate and House.

In the Senate, Republicans will see no change in leadership, as all leaders of the majority caucus have been reelected for another two-year term after running unopposed in their caucus leadership elections. Sen. Robert Stivers retains his position as Senate President, being joined by President Pro-Tempore David Givens, Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams and Majority Whip Mike Wilson.

“Our caucus members have spoken and their trust in existing leadership is a testament to our strong working relationship,” Stivers said. “We [Senate leaders] will continue to prioritize sound public policy and fiscal responsibility in the 2023 Legislative Session.”

Senate Democrats, however, will be led by a host of new faces, as Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey resigned his position after winning the election for the U.S. Congressional seat formerly held by long-time Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth, and former Minority Whip Dennis Parrett retired. Replacing McGarvey as Minority Floor Leader is Sen. Gerald Neal, the longest tenured member of the legislative body. Sen. David Yates will serve as Minority Whip, while Sen. Reginald Thomas is the new Minority Caucus Chair.  

On the House side, Republicans kept with their trend, reelecting much of their leadership team from a year ago, minus the House Majority Whip. Rep. Jason Nemes will join the leadership team, replacing former Majority Whip Chad McCoy. Nemes joins House Speaker David Osborne, Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade, House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy, and House Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles, all of whom were reelected to their leadership posts. Rep. Osborne becomes the first Republican in the state’s 230-year history to serve as Speaker for a third term.

“We’ve made great strides, but still have work to do to ensure that the policies coming out of Frankfort provide opportunities for people across the state,'' Speaker Pro-Tempore Meade said.

House Democrats elected their leaders without opposition, as well, after losing Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins to retirement and Minority Whip Angie Hatton in the General Election. Replacing Jenkins as Minority Floor Leader is Rep. Derrick Graham, who has been the House Democratic Caucus Chair for the past four years. Graham becomes the first Black legislative caucus leader in the commonwealth’s history. Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson takes over Graham’s previous position as Minority Caucus Chair, while Rep. Rachel Roberts will serve as Minority Whip.

“I’ve been proud to be on our caucus’ leadership team since the end of 2018 and look forward to building on that role as caucus leader during the next two years,” Graham said. “Our caucus stands ready to work across the aisle and with Gov. Andy Beshear to make Kentucky an even better place to live, learn and work.”

With Democrats losing five seats in the House during the General Election, Republicans grew its supermajority in both chambers. The House membership includes 80 Republicans compared to 20 Democrats, while the Senate is composed of 31 Republicans and seven Democrats.

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