Twenty years ago the Kentucky General Assembly was one of the least powerful and least effective legislatures in the country, almost entirely dominated by the governor. Over the past two decades the legislature has changed -- gradually and with little public attention -- into a far more powerful, professional, and independent body.
This book is a study of that process of change: its causes, the obstacles encountered, and the political and policy consequences. It is a study of changing relationships between governor and legislature, caused in part by less aggressive gubernatorial leadership and in part by the growing assertion of legislative independence. It is also a study of the men and women who initiated change and who play major roles in the legislature today.
One important area of change has been in the kinds of persons elected to the legislature. Today's Kentucky legislators are more professional in their approach to legislative service, serve longer tenures, and are likely to be committed to long-term political careers. They work harder to become known in their districts, and they devote more time to constituency service.
In preparing this study, Malcolm E. Jewell and Penny M. Miller interviewed and sent questionnaires to many past and present members of the Kentucky legislature, as well as examining election returns, roll call votes, and committee records. They also traced developments since the 1960s to provide historical perspective.
The Kentucky General Assembly is not a "typical" legislature. It is less professional and meets less frequently than those in most states. But trends in the Kentucky legislature are typical of those in other states, and this book puts the changes in Kentucky into national perspective.