Politics
2:30 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Kentucky GOP Unveils "Handshake with Kentucky" Plan

Credit RPK of Kentucky

The Republican Party of Kentucky has a wish-list of legislative priorities ready to go if the State House were to flip and come under Republican control following this fall's elections.

The party unveiled its plan, dubbed  "Handshake with Kentucky," on Tuesday. It consists of legislative priorities for the state GOP, pending potential victories come Election Day. Currently, Democrats maintain a narrow eight-seat margin in the state's lower chamber.

In a statement, House GOP Floor Leader lambasted House Democrats over poor leadership.

“For far too long, the majority leadership of the House of Representatives has made empty promises,” Hoover said in a statement. “Democrats in Frankfort have failed to achieve meaningful results on behalf of families and local businesses, and the current leadership in the House of Representatives has squandered real opportunities while surrounding states prosper."

The plan will include:

  • Public-private partnership (P3) legislation. The legislature successfully passed similar bills introduced this session by Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs, which was vetoed by Gov. Beshear over its inclusion of amendments that would prohibit tolling on northern Kentucky's Brent Spence Bridge.
  • So-called "right-to-work" laws, which would prohibit the ability of unions to require workers to join as a condition of their employment at a company. Rep. Hoover introduced such legislation this year, where it quickly crashed-and-burned. A recent Bluegrass Poll showed that 55 percent of Kentuckians favor right-to-work laws.
  • A nebulously defined tax reform agenda. "We will reduce the tax burden on Kentuckians," the platform reads, "while making our tax structure more attractive to job creators." Those plans echo a similar approach to tax reform made earlier this year by Julia Crigler , director of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity's Kentucky chapter.
  •  "...legislation that will remove regulatory barriers for the communications industry which desires to reinvest in Kentucky by expanding our broadband internet access," which refers to a recent GOP-led effort to pass the so-called "AT&T" bill, and would be a boon to large telecommunication companies in the state by eliminating public oversight of consumer complaints and prohibiting companies from footing the bill for landline services.
  • Creating a "medical review panel" that would limit the exposure of doctors and hospitals to tort/malpractice lawsuits.
  • The "Responsible Budgeting and Spending Act," which will "require state revenue estimates to be based upon a 15 year rolling average rather than unsupported revenue projections."
  • Create a task force to examine the growing unfunded liability of the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System. 
  • Repeal the employer and individual mandates of the Affordable Care Act by introducing an amendment to the state constitution. The platform includes the language to be used in such an amendment, and will “prohibit any person, employer or healthcare provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.” The plan does not include how to alternatively provide coverage to over 521,000 Kentuckians whom have obtained health insurance via Kynect, the state's health insurance exchange under the ACA, nor does it accurately portray how the state is actually paying for the Medicaid expansion past 2016.
  • Lastly, the platform pledges to end corruption in the state House of Representatives, including bribery and sexual harassment scandals involving some Kentucky Democrats. 

In a statement, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo blamed Republicans for the 2008 recession, and touted Democrats' role in navigating the state toward recovery.

“While the House Republicans make empty promises, or take our ideas as their own, our Democratic members are the ones sponsoring the laws that create jobs, promote government transparency and accountability and make life-saving gains in combating drug addiction," Stumbo said in a released statement.

"I’m proud of what we have achieved, and our caucus is committed to building on these gains in the years to come," Stumbo added. "House Democrats will continue working with Governor Beshear to free Kentucky from the Republican-caused recession our nation has suffered under for years. ”