Amendment 1 on Ky. ballots boils down to fight over control

Amendment 1 deals with legislators’ ability to call themselves into a special session.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - Kentucky voters will head to the polls in less than a week and be faced with two proposed constitutional amendment questions (read below).

One of those amendments has been more publicized than the other. Amendment 1 deals with legislators’ ability to call themselves into a special session.

“Historically, Kentucky has had a very strong governor,” said Dr.Stephen Voss, associate professor of political science at UK. “Especially, because the legislature doesn’t get to meet for very long, and when the cats are away, the mouse gets to play.”

As of 2021, Kentucky was one of 14 states in which only the governor could call a special session. On November 8, voters will decide on whether or not to change that and allow lawmakers to call themselves into special session.

It’s a clash of power that has been brewing since the pandemic between a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature.

“There was a lot of legislation passed aimed at the Governor because legislators were angry at his COVID policies, but they didn’t really change much the governorship because they were fairly focused on emergency powers related things or other COVID-related things,” said Voss.

Voss is a specialist in elections and voting behavior. He tells us the limited publicity Amendment 1, has gotten isn’t surprising for a constitutional amendment of this nature, unlike Amendment 2 which deals with abortion rights.


Amendment 1 boils down to a fight over control. Right now, the governor also dictates what’s on the agenda of the special session when it’s called.

“If the legislature can call itself into special session, they’ll be able to decide also what topics they’d like to address,” said Voss.

The ballot measure is 744 words and Voss says it may hurt its chances of getting passed.

“The length of Amendment 1 is also something it has going against it,” said Voss. “Voters have a tendency to get suspicious and just want to vote no, and the longer it gets, the harder the amendment proposal becomes to process the more that sort of gut level, ‘I’m just gonna vote against this.’”