The Republican-controlled Kentucky legislature on Monday overturned Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto on a bill that significantly changes the process for appointing lawmakers to vacant Senate seats.
The bill, which has the support of the Senate Minority Leader Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell McConnell urges GOP men to get vaccinated: ‘No good argument not to’ Alaska Commissioner launches GOP challenge to Murkowski Bottom line MORE (R-Ky.), Asks the Governor of Kentucky to temporarily fill a vacant Senate seat with a successor from the same political party as the incumbent lawmaker.
In addition, the bill requires that the temporary successor be chosen from a list of three names proposed by the executive committee of the outgoing senator’s state party.
Historically, the Governor of Kentucky has had the power to appoint anyone, from any political party, to fill vacant Senate seats, whether lawmakers leave by choice, expulsion, or death, according to the Kentucky Courier Journal.
The bill also imposes new conditions regarding the length of a temporary Senate governor’s appointment before voters can elect a permanent successor, which will depend primarily on when the vacancy occurs. In addition, the legislation establishes new regulations on how these elections would be conducted.
The bill received broad support in the Kentucky legislature. The State Senate voted 29-8 to overturn Beshear’s veto, and the State House voted 70-24 to override the veto.
The Kentucky Courier Journal previously reported on this legislation.
The bill has the backing of McConnell, who was re-elected in 2020 by nearly 20 points, guaranteeing six more years in the Senate. If McConnell were to leave his seat before 2026 – and there is no indication that he plans to do such a thing – these new guidelines would be in effect.
“This bill improves the way vacancies are currently filled and ensures that Kentucky would not do without representation in the United States Senate for an extended period,” McConnell said in a statement to The Hill.
“It would also ensure Kentucky voters the opportunity to choose who they think will best represent them in a timely manner, instead of leaving that decision to the governor, regardless of party,” he added.
Kentucky has not had a Democratic senator since 1999. This new legislation effectively prevents Beshear from appointing a Democrat to a vacant seat.