More bills than ever before – and more mule bills than ever before! Skip to content

More bills than ever before – and more mule bills than ever before!

Why do OUR elected officials, who supposedly work for US, believe it is their right to do their work in secret?

Photo by Anna Kaminova / Unsplash

There’s an old pop song called “Who Let the Dogs Out.” For this year’s General Assembly, we could change it to “Who Let the Bills Out.” And coincidentally, some of them are real dogs, to boot.

As of the bill-filing deadlines last week, more bills had been filed than in any session since 2000. The total count was 1,220 pieces of legislation filed, with 382 in the Senate and 838 in the House.

Yes, it’s a long session, which happens every two years. But even comparing it only to other 60-day sessions, it’s still a record. Here’s a comparison table.

YearSenate BillsHouse BillsTotal Filed
20243828381220
20223827831165
2020286647933
2018272615887
2016309632941
2014240584824
2012220566786
2010232601833
20082567751031
20062587541012
20042857151000
20022948751169
200040910321441
19984459241369

 Many of them, of course, will never see the light of day. But even so, this is a LOT of bills for a part-time legislature to deal with.

And what’s up with the large number of mule bills?

In legislative parlance, a “mule bill” is a bill that is filed as a shell, to later “carry” a new bill in its place. It is, in effect, a placeholder for a bill that isn’t ready by the filing deadline.

Or, more dangerously, a bill that its sponsors don’t want to be public until a time when they can spring it on the legislature and get it passed before opposition to the bill can get organized and active.

The use of mule bills, especially by Republicans, has grown and grown in Frankfort in recent years. But this year, it has reached epidemic proportions: of the 1,220 bills filed to date, almost 50 are clearly mule bills. And others may be, since any bill can be replaced by a new bill at any time.

Here are the mule bills caught so far by Joanie Prentice, our erstwhile bill-watcher and Frankfort reporter:

Referred to committees essentially empty (gender neutral language, technical correction, etc.)
Senate bills: 299, 302, 303, 310,318, 320, 321, 322, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 333, 334, 339, 340, 341, 370, 371
House bills: 749, 786, 787, 788, 789, 790

Of these bills, Damon Thayer is the prime sponsor on 15 of them in the Senate, with Howell, Wheeler, and Carpenter sponsoring two each, and Westerfield one. In the House, Heavrin sponsored five of the six, with Petrie the remaining one.

Referred to committees empty and have had two readings
Senate bill: 325 (Thayer)

Empty/mule bills that have received a second reading directly from the Committee on Committees and then sent to the A&R Committee
House bills: 743, 744, 745, 746, 750, 751, 752, 753, 754 (all Petrie)

Bills that have had two readings but have not been heard in committee
House bills: 265, 266, HJR 91, HJR 92 (all Petrie)

Obviously, this raises all sorts of questions and suspicions. What are the Republicans up to? What are they hiding? Why do OUR elected officials, who supposedly work for US, believe it is their right to do their work in secret?

It’s disgusting and depressing. And the only way to stop it is to (a) call attention to it, and (b) vote out the people who do it.

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

Twitter Facebook Website Louisville, KY

Joanie Prentice

Joanie Prentice is a Mom, Grandma, RN and a self-anointed “Legislative Nerd.” She is an activist who is passionate about educating voters. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

Louisville, KY

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