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Op-Ed: Knowing the Difference Between U.S. and State Senators

The following op-ed is written by State Senator John Schickel (R-Union).
 
It may surprise you to know how often people mistake me for a member of our federal delegation. While I am humbled that some think I work alongside Leader McConnell and Senator Paul in Washington D.C., I believe it is important that people know that my work as a state senator in Frankfort is just as, if not more, important than the duties of representatives who represent Kentucky on the federal level. Constituents especially need to understand the different responsibilities of the Kentucky state legislature vs. the United States Congress.

Where Senators McConnell and Paul represent the entirety of Kentucky, my colleagues and I in the Kentucky State Senate represent particular parts of the state. I have the honor of representing the 11th State Senate District in Boone County. As your state senator, I am keenly familiar with the issues facing Boone County, one of the fastest-growing regions in our state. New census data indicates our population size has increased by 15,000 since 2010. Having representatives who are familiar with local-level issues is vital in our constitutional republic. In my legislative updates, I have discussed local road projects on Mt. Zion Road and Pleasant Valley Road, and I have provided updates on community assets like CVG Airport in the Florence-Union Connector. Your state legislature is responsible for overseeing and instituting policies that most directly impact the daily lives of citizens of the Commonwealth.

Our Founding Fathers created a system of government that is of, by, and for the people and that protects our inalienable rights. They did not want a federal government with unlimited power, nor did they want only representation that was distant and unfamiliar with the concerns of citizens at a local level. If you have ever read The Republic by Plato, you can see that our founders strived to implement the most virtuous forms of several types of government when forming the American republic. We have a mixed government, including separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but also in the delegation of power from federal, state, county, and city governments. This separation of powers is present at each level.

The U.S. Constitution justly delegates all powers not granted to the federal government to the states. Our states, counties, and cities serve as laboratories for solutions in our republic. Those who serve in positions at the state and local level are better known personally by their constituency. There is accountability to constituents that comes with that local form of representation. This is as our Founding Fathers intended.

One of the most critical things to know is that, just as we have a sacred U.S. Constitution, we also have a sacred Constitution of Kentucky that further protects our liberties and outlines the proper role of state government in our lives. While congress is delegated with responsibilities such as national defense, here at the state level, we legislate on essential matters like criminal statutes and the allocation of billions of taxpayer dollars. The decisions made in the two chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly in Frankfort impact almost every nook and cranny of everyday life. That is for better or worse. My mission as your state senator is to remove unnecessary government from your life, promote policy and funding allocations that strengthen our communities, and protect our precious freedom.
 
On a final note, our federal delegation in Washington holds session all through the year. Leader McConnell and Senator Paul can take up an issue throughout the year. State legislatures in the 50 states, however, have legislative calendars that vary. Here in Kentucky, we convene in Frankfort for session in January of each year—60 days for even-numbered years and 30 days in odd-numbered years. Legislation that is not enacted into law expires once the session concludes. That is why you will see bill numbers reused each legislative session, each designated with an RS (Regular Session) and the year it was introduced. For example, Senate Bill (SB) 1 of the upcoming 2022 Regular Session will be designated SB 1 (RS22). For constituents, it is important to know how to follow legislation being considered. All legislation can be tracked on the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, I can be contacted by phone in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, Ext. 57948, or at home at 859-384-7506.  Please direct all responses to me through my page on the Legislative Research Commission website, where you can find information from our latest legislative session.

Photo via Legislative Research Commission