Special session ends successfully - with compromises

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By Rep. David Floyd

In Kentucky, a Special Session is about as popular as a Duke victory over UK.  Nobody likes them, least of all legislators. After all, every representative is a citizen legislator, who is anxious to return home with family and back at the "regular" job you've missed for the last three and one half months.  

Here's something interesting - while doing research for this column, I did a web search for "governor proclamation of special session" and had to get to page 3 of the listings before I got to Kentucky.  There are a lot of special sessions in America nowadays.

Our Constitution authorizes the governor - and only the governor – to convene the General Assembly in Extraordinary, or Special, Session.  When he/she does this, only subjects placed before the body can be considered; we can't act on different matters.  The "call" to Special Session details what may be considered.  Governor Beshear listed two: fund the road plan that was already passed; and work on legislation to mitigate the illegal abuse of prescription drugs in Kentucky.  

We first took up the funding bill for the road plan.  HB 2, simply put, appropriates money to build the roads in the road plan and authorizes funds transfers to other road-related efforts, including, for example, the State Resurfacing Program.  It does many other things, and I'm happy to talk with you about that if you want.  

And it passed, not without a little drama.  On Day 3, the governor (as expected) vetoed portions of the road plan that we'd already passed in the regular session.  He de-funded projects that were in the senatorial districts of Senator Vernie McGaha and David Williams, as well in the house districts of Representatives Jeff Hoover, Sara Beth Gregory, and Bart Rowland.  

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Rep Bob Leeper, is the only Independent in the General Assembly.  He reinserted those vetoed projects in a committee amendment.  It passed unanimously.  He gave an interesting talk about why he did that, telling a story about a hitchhiker that he picked up, from whom he learned lessons in civility between people who disagree.  The man was homeless, a felon who was without a job and on his way to a shelter in Frankfort.  According to Sen Leeper, that conversation, in his car and at the restaurant where he took the man to breakfast, prompted him to appeal to the senators for fairness and respect.

After his speech, and with the projects reinserted, the funding bill passed in the full Senate with only one dissenting vote.  It was good that such a strong spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation prevailed.  Sen Leeper was very accommodating to the governor and to the House; he said if we did not concur, he'd recede from the amendment.  We did not, and he did.

Next we took up HB 1, an Act relating to controlled substances, and addressed the second part of the governor's call to Special Session.  I'll discuss that one in next week's column.

While much has been made in the media about why we were called back in Special Session, it's important that we now look forward rather than focus on the situation that forced us back to work in Frankfort.  It is my sincere hope that lessons have been learned among all sides, and that we can place personalities and partisanship aside for the betterment of Kentucky.  

As always, the best part of my job is hearing from you.  Call me at home, or leave a message at 1-800-372-7181.  I'm here to help.