By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – A “deeply frustrated” state Auditor Adam Edelen accused Senate Republican leaders, especially Majority Leader Damon Thayer, of blocking for political reasons a cyber security bill he is pushing.
Edelen, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, said at a news conference Thursday that Thayer is preventing a bill that had near unanimous support in the House from moving forward.
He said his bill “can’t even get a damn hearing” in the Senate.
House Bill 5 would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information within 35 days. Almost 30 groups have endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Thayer, at a news conference an hour after Edelen called him “the chief obstructionist” to HB 5, said he finds “it kind of comical that the auditor has become so hysterical about the fact that his bill hasn’t moved yet.”
He noted that the bill does not have an emergency clause to take effect immediately whenever it becomes law.
It would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, Thayer said, “so it doesn’t matter if it passes now or 20 minutes to midnight on April 15,” the last day of this year’s legislative session.
Thayer, R-Georgetown, said senators need time to study whether the bill may have an unfunded mandate for government agencies to provide information to citizens about computer breaches.
Asked why he did not respond to a letter from Edelen requesting a committee hearing for HB 5, Thayer said “there’s a lot on our plates right now.”
Thayer acknowledged that he called the measure “the Adam Edelen for governor bill” recently when speaking at Georgetown College, but said he did so with a laugh.
Politics has no role in the fate of the bill, he said, adding, “We’re not going to be bullied by Adam Edelen.”
Thayer said he doesn’t know if the bill will go forward in the Senate.
“It will rise or fall on its own merits,” he said. “There is no rush. This today is much ado about nothing by an auditor who craves public attention.”
Thayer may have his own political ambitions.
Asked if he might run for governor in 2015, Thayer said, “If James Comer runs for governor, I will not run for governor.”
And if Comer, the state agriculture commissioner, does not run?
“Never say never,” said Thayer.