One moment defines 2013 Session, what’s wrong in the State House

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From the House/Rep. Russell Webber

 FRANKFORT - The final few days of the 2013 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly wound down in a flurry of bills being passed between the House and Senate, and work remaining on other bills when we return for the final two days in more than a week.  But it was a simple debate on one bill that could sum up this year’s entire session.

On Monday the House began debate on Senate Bill 1, one of the major pieces of legislation during this session.  Senate Bill 1 was filed to find a way to allow Kentucky’s military men and women serving overseas an easier way to cast their ballot in future elections.

The most senior member of the military among the House ranks, Representative David Floyd of Bardstown, rose to the floor to speak out against a House Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 1.  Representative Floyd’s concern was the idea of using electronic means to transmit votes would be a violation of the ‘secret ballot’ provision given to all of us under the Constitution, since there could be no guarantee the electronic ballot couldn’t be viewed or alerted by others through cyber terrorism, which the chief of the U.S. Intelligence Service recently said was the number one issue facing our country.

Representative Floyd wasn’t alone in his concerns; a majority of county court clerks expressed their opposition to the House Committee Sub to the bill.  But when Representative Floyd began discussing how the substitute was another example of action by the House majority violating the Constitution during this session, he was gaveled down, told he was out of order and to sit down.

What happened with Representative Floyd is what I considered the defining moment of this entire session, which is that House majority leadership have repeatedly violated the Constitution and rules spelled out and approved by all House members for their own benefit.  It has happened with bills dealing with redistricting, industrial hemp, and perhaps the biggest issue facing Kentucky: overhauling our public pension system.

This continued abuse of power is what’s wrong in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and took what looked to be a new era of working together for the good of Kentucky and discarded it like a wadded up piece of paper.  While our colleagues in the Senate have been successful in forging a spirit of bipartisanship, we continue to wait for the day when that same idea is founded in truth and not in partisan politics.

I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at russell.webber@lrc.ky.gov.  You can keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.