Kentucky state government is made up of three branches: the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Executive Branch.
The Legislative Branch is made up of the elected members of the Kentucky General Assembly and staff. Legislators are chosen by voters in their districts to serve in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. With the aid of their professional staffs employed in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC), they write and enact the laws of Kentucky. LRC employees are not covered by the merit system in KRS Chapter 18A.
The Judicial Branch includes the state’s court system. It interprets and applies the laws under the Kentucky and United States Constitutions. As with the Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch employees are not covered by the merit system in KRS Chapter 18A.
The Executive Branch, headed by the governor, carries out the laws through "agencies" – cabinets, departments, boards, commissions, and offices. Most Executive Branch employees are covered by one of the three personnel systems: KRS 18A, KRS 16 and the Career and Technical System. Employees in state government are assigned to an agency within the Executive Branch. An employee appointed to a position in the classified service whose appointment and continued employment are subject to the classified service provisions of KRS 18A is considered to be under the ‘merit system’.
Within the Executive Branch, agencies are grouped into "Cabinets." There are currently eleven program cabinets: Transportation, Economic Development, Finance & Administration, Tourism, Arts & Heritage, Education & Workforce Development, Health & Family Services, Justice & Public Safety, Personnel, Labor, Energy & Environment, and Public Protection. The General Government Cabinet is comprised of departments headed by elected officials.