Kentucky's Senate Republicans File Amendment to Curb Governor's Power

Jan 27, 2014

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), converses with Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, on the floor of the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear created Kentucky’s health exchange and expanded Medicaid without legislative approval, but if Senate Republicans have their way, the governor will not have that luxury in the future. 

The GOP this session plans to push a constitutional amendment that would curtail the governor’s power to issue administrative regulations.  The legislation would keep a regulation from taking effect if lawmakers declared it deficient. 

A legislative subcommittee currently reviews regulations, but has no power to stop them from taking effect.  When asked if regulations should be implemented with full approval from the General Assembly, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he agreed with the concept.

"Allowing seven or eight people that authority is a bit problematic," Stumbo replied.  "Allowing the entire General Assembly that authority gives all of us a better sense of balance."

Governor Beshear told WKU Public Radio that he and future governors need to keep that power.

"The legislature is not here 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They can't get into the day to day running of state government and they shouldn't," said Beshear.  "They have the authority right now to overturn any regulation that I put out, and that is by coming in and passing a bill in the House and Senate and changing it, or doing away with it."

Senate President Robert Stivers has said the proposed amendment is not in reaction to the governor expanding Medicaid or creating the health exchange.  Instead, he said it’s about curbing the number of regulations in state government, which amounts to hundreds each year.

The legislation is designated as Senate Bill 1, meaning it has top priority.