In one sense, the start of last week’s legislative session was not much different than my first three as a state representative. It was exciting as my House and Senate colleagues and I arrived at the Capitol, and it was a little daunting as I considered the amount of work in front of us.
In a couple of important ways, however, this year’s legislative session is already unlike any other – for me, and for all of Kentucky.
It’s different for me, because this is my first session as House Minority Whip, one of three leadership positions for our chamber’s Democratic caucus. I am the third woman ever to serve as a House Democratic caucus leader, and I am part of the first-ever legislative leadership team of either party in the General Assembly to have two women serving at the same time. The second woman is House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins, who is also the first woman ever to lead a legislative caucus here in Kentucky.
Normally, leadership elections like this take place just before or at the start of odd-year legislative sessions. However, when former House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins left last month to become Governor Andy Beshear’s chief advisor, the caucus chose Leader Jenkins to take on that role.
That in turn created another leadership vacancy, since she had been serving as Whip. After talking with my family and friends, I chose to pursue that office, and will be forever grateful that my caucus members gave me their support just before Christmas.
I have had several people ask me what, exactly, the Whip does.
First, as part of the leadership team, it serves the caucus by helping craft our agenda and message. It also is one of 16 leadership roles in the House and Senate that guide the General Assembly’s administrative arm, which is known as the Legislative Research Commission.
During legislative sessions, the Whip’s main job is to know the pulse of the caucus members on whatever issues are before us. A Whip counts votes and drums up support or opposition as needed, with the goal of keeping the caucus as unified as possible.
Kentucky’s Wendell Ford served as Whip during his time in the U.S. Senate, and that gave him a powerful position to shape our country’s policies and, in turn, to make sure that Kentucky’s concerns were better heard and addressed.
I will work to achieve the same thing at the local and state level, because being a legislative leader means our House district and all of Eastern Kentucky will have a more prominent seat at the table when the General Assembly is writing the state budget and enacting new laws.
That process is of course just starting, and will move a few steps further down the road when Governor Andy Beshear gives his State of the Commonwealth speech early this week and then presents his proposed two-year budget later this month.
On a personal note, I want to thank those from our region who traveled to the Capitol early last week for a rally supporting the Second Amendment. I met with many and also strongly back local efforts that are showing how united our communities are on this issue.
For now, I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about legislation before the General Assembly. You can read the bills at our website (Legislature.ky.gov), and you can email me at Angie.Hatton@lrc. ky.gov. The toll-free message line for me and any other state legislator is 1-800-372-7181.
I’m also easy to find on social media, which I also use to keep constituents like you informed. My Facebook page is “Angie Hatton, District 94 Kentucky House of Representatives,” and my Twitter account is @AngieHatton16.
I hope to hear from you soon.