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Stumbo and Hoover at odds about when to tackle legislative redistricting

By Jack Brammer — jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The top Democrat and Republican in the Kentucky House are at odds about when to tackle Round Two of legislative redistricting.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Monday that House Democratic leaders will recommend to the majority caucus that the 2013 General Assembly, which begins in January, take up the redrawing of state legislative districts to conform to population changes.

But House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said lawmakers should first focus on fixing the state’s public pension problem and tax reform in the 2013 session, which has only 30 working days compared to 60 days in even-numbered years.

Redistricting could occur later in 2013 in a brief special legislative session, Hoover said.

House Republicans and Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington successfully challenged new legislative maps that were approved earlier this year by the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate.

‘Comment’ features 3 veteran journalists; ‘KY Tonight’ will discuss 2012 elections

Three veteran journalists will join host Ferrell Wellman on this weekend’s “Comment on Kentucky,” a public affairs show of the Kentucky Educational Television network.

They are Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky; Ronnie Ellis, Frankfort reporter for CNHI, Inc.; and Jack Brammer, political writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The show airs live at 8 p.m. Friday EDT on KET1.

On the Monday, Aug. 20, edition of “Kentucky Tonight” at 8 p.m. EDT on KET1 and at www.ket.org/live, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss the 2012 election.

Scheduled guests are State Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville; Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville; House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown; and Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton.

Viewers with questions and comments may send email to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form at ket.org/kytonight.

Viewers also may submit questions and comments on Twitter @BillKET, #kytonight, or on KET’s Facebook page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

“Kentucky Tonight” programs are archived online, made available via podcast, and rebroadcast on KET and KET KY. Archived programs, information about podcasts, and broadcast schedules are available at ket.org/kytonight.

Kentucky Tonight is a weekly KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Goodman is host and managing editor.

–Jack Brammer

Mike Haydon, Beshear’s chief of staff, dies

By Janet Patton
jpatton1@herald-leader.com

Mike Haydon, Gov. Steve Beshear’s chief of staff and former mayor of Springfield, died Sunday.

“He’s passed away,” said Springfield Mayor John Cecconi Sr. “He had a heart attack. … Springfield will miss Mike a lot. … Last time I talked to Mike, he was upbeat as he could be, probably at the African-American celebration last week. He showed no signs of illness.”

News of Haydon’s passing made waves across political lines in Frankfort and throughout the state Sunday.

General Assembly must pay legal bills of plaintiffs in redistricting lawsuit

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The Legislative Research Commission must pay the legal fees of House Republicans and Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein, who successfully challenged the redrawing of legislative district boundaries earlier this year, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd granted the plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees in a six-page order.

Shepherd ordered negotiations over the amount of the legal bills to be completed by Aug. 30. If the parties can’t reach a resolution, they must file documents in support of their request for legal fees by Sept. 14, he said.

Bobby Sherman, director of the administrative arm of the Kentucky General Assembly, could not immediately be reached for comment.

House Republicans and Stein, of Lexington, successfully challenged redistricting maps approved in this year’s state legislative session.

Stumbo, Williams approve $19,758 payment for redistricting legal bill

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – The legislature’s top two leaders have decided the General Assembly will pay a $19,758.94 legal bill for its representation in a lawsuit over the redrawing of state legislative district boundaries.

The action by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, ignores a vote earlier this month by the 16-member Legislative Research Commission against using tax dollars to pay the bill.

“The decision to pay legal fees and to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars, without any accountability to other members of the General Assembly, is plain wrong, and under Kentucky law, it is illegal,” House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said Thursday in a statement.

Hoover said state law says the commission, not individual lawmakers, may contract for services needed by the General Assembly and that approval is needed by a majority of the LRC to spend any funds to defend a lawsuit.

House approves road budget, pain pill bill

UPDATED AT 1:25 P.M.

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The two major bills of the special legislative session cleared the Democratic-led House on Wednesday and now head to the Republican-led Senate, where they face an uncertain future.

The measures — an operating budget for the Transportation Cabinet and a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse — won approval from the House on the third day of the session, which costs taxpayers about $60,000 a day.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Gov. Steve Beshear told him Wednesday morning that he is close to finalizing his review of the state’s two-year road plan. Senate President David Williams has said he will not allow the Senate to vote on the transportation operating budget until Beshear signs the two-year road plan, which details more than 1,000 transportation projects, into law.

If Beshear signs the road plan by the end of this week, the special legislative session could conclude on Friday, the earliest day a bill could complete the law-making process.

House starts special legislative session

By Jack Brammer and Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The state House gaveled into a special session shortly after noon Monday that will cost taxpayers about $60,000 a day.

The House on Monday introduced bills to provide a transportation budget and curb prescription drug abuse, the two tasks Gov. Steve Beshear put on the agenda of the special legislative session.

Committees will act on the bills on Tuesday, and the full House will vote on them and send them to the Senate by noon Wednesday, said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

Stumbo said he did not know what will happen in the special session after that.

The Senate is set to convene at 4 p.m. Monday.

Beshear says he will recall lawmakers to Frankfort on Monday

By Beth Musgrave, Jack Brammer and John Cheves
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
jcheves@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear said he will call a special legislative session for Monday after lawmakers ended the 2012 General Assembly at 11:59 p.m. Thursday without approving funding for a $4.5 billion road-building plan and a measure to curb prescription drug abuse.

Beshear, after meeting with House Democratic leaders in his Capitol office, said at about 12:45 a.m. Friday that Senate President David Williams was responsible for the Senate’s failure to approve a road plan budget bill on the final day of the 60-day regular session.

“Without the transportation budget bill, you can’t fund any of the projects in the transportation plan that has been passed,” said the Democratic governor who won re-election last November in a contentious campaign against Williams, R-Burkesville.

Beshear also charged that Williams was responsible for the Senate’s inaction Thursday on a bill that would more closely regulate pain management clinics and put the state’s electronic prescription reporting system in the attorney general’s office instead of in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“We need that bill. We need the transportation budget bill. So I’ll be issuing a call for a special session of the General Assembly,” Beshear said. “They should have and could have been passed by the Senate today.”

House Democrats raise questions about proposal to cap state debt

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A Senate bill that would cap the amount of debt Kentucky could accumulate was met with skepticism in the House budget committee on Tuesday.

House Appropriations and Revenue Chairman Rick Rand said after Tuesday’s hearing on Senate Bill 1 that he was not sure if the Democratic House would vote on the measure, which passed the Senate 34-2. The bill would not allow debt payments to exceed 6 percent of state revenue.

The bill has an admirable goal., but reducing the state’s debt will take a long-term commitment, Rand said.

The Senate’s proposal is a “short-term political answer,” he said.

House passes $3.5 billion two-year road plan

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The House on Friday passed a two-year road plan that includes money for the extension of Newtown Pike and the widening of Leestown Road in Lexington.

The two-year $3.5 billion plan also includes authorization for two new Louisville bridges and includes planning money for a new bridge in Northern Kentucky.