Damon Thayer

Stivers Looks for Bipartisanship on Anti-Heroin Bill

Dec 11, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers says he hopes bills to combat heroin abuse and encourage investments by telecommunications companies can win bipartisan support in next year's General Assembly session.

But Stivers says Senate Republicans will also push more contentious proposals to rein in regulations and prohibit mandatory participation in a workplace union. He acknowledged such proposals would face strong resistance in the Democratic-led Kentucky House.

Senate Republican leaders spoke with reporters Thursday during a Senate GOP retreat in Owensboro.

Lawmakers will be in session for 30 days next year, but Stivers says they can take on big issues during the abbreviated session.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says next year's governor's campaign won't affect Senate action. But he says Senate Republicans will promote an agenda that a GOP governor could embrace.

A bill that would allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for both the Senate and the Presidency of the United States passed out of the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate Tuesday.

Senate Bill 205, sponsored by GOP Floor Leader Damon Thayer, would allow a candidate who is running for statewide election to also run for the office of the presidency or vice-presidency. It passed by a 25 to 13 vote.

Paul is widely considered to be front-runner for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016, when he is also up for re-election, but the Bowling Green Republican has not announced any specific plans.

Thayer's bill now heads to the House, where Speaker Greg Stumbo has laughed at the idea.

A revised bill that would allow Rand Paul to run for Senate re-election and the White House at the same time is gaining ground.

A Kentucky Senate committee passed the measure after it was changed to specify that the bill applies only to those running for either President or Vice-President of the U.S. Every Republican and one Democrat on the committee voted to forward the bill on to the full Senate.

Current Kentucky law disallows a candidate from appearing twice on a general election ballot.

Bill sponsor Damon Thayer told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the changes to the bill were modeled after a statute in Wisconsin that allowed GOP Congressman Paul Ryan to run for Vice President and the U.S. House in 2012.

Senator Reggie Thomas, one of the Democrats who voted against the measure, said it “defies common sense.”

State Lawmakers Reflect On Quiet Pace in Frankfort

Jan 26, 2014
Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky general assembly is about a third of the way through the 2014 session.  As is the case in most Kentucky legislative sessions, a great deal of the voting comes in the later weeks and days.  For instance, no votes occurred in either house Friday and both the House and Senate were in session for less than an hour.  Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says his chamber tends to move at a slower pace.

“If you go back and look at the formation of our country, I believe it was Ben Franklin who said that the House is like legislation that comes out as hot as coffee and the Senate is the saucer on which it cools.  So, we are contemplative and more deliberative in our approach than the House of Representatives,” said Thayer.

The pace of the legislative session is pretty typical for the first third of the session.  Franklin County Senator Julian Carrol says the majority party sets the agenda when it comes to bill consideration.

“In terms of their leadership, they want to make certain they don’t want to put them into a spot of having to vote on a bill that be of some harm to then in their effort for re-election, but we’ve moved too slow.  We’ve got an enormous amount of work to do and certainly the pace should have been much better,” said Carrol.

A bill that would automatically restore voting rights for non-violent felons in Kentucky has passed the House and heads to the Senate, where it has historically stalled.

Republican Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer says he won't support the bill unless it includes an amendment that would create a waiting period before the rights are restored.

“I can’t support it the way it’s written, with automatic restoration; the minute they walk out of jail, and have served all their time and parole, etc.”

U.S. Senator Rand Paul has voiced support for the bill. He favors a five-year waiting period.

Thayer says he isn’t sure yet whether a provision to require a photo ID to vote will be added to the bill.

Kentucky News Network

A Kentucky lawmaker says it wasn't so bad being mocked on national television.  Republican Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown recently appeared in a segment on Comedy Central that poked fun of legislation he introduced in the General Assembly this year. 

The segment was called "Can't Touch This" about states trying to pass laws to counter-act federal laws, a procedure called nullification that's been ruled unconstitutional several times by the Supreme Court. 

Thayer told comedian Jason Jones about a bill the state Senate passed this year to say Kentucky won't go along with any new guns laws from Washington.

Thayer:  "There will be federal gun laws that actually take away what we believe is our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms."

Jones:  "Other than that premise being completely false (audience laughter), what kind of message did you send to those gun grabbers in Washington D.C.?"

Also appearing on "The Daily Show" segment was Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner discussing counties like his moving to nullify state laws. 

For Thayer's part, he says he doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as he did 15 or 20 years ago, so when asked to do the show, he said "why not."

The complete segment can be viewed here.

Kentucky Senate Passes Pension Reform Recommendations

Feb 8, 2013

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would reform the majority of the state's pension system.

Senate Bill 2 contains the recommendations of a legislative task force on the underfunded pension system. It suspends cost of living adjustments and creates a hybrid, 401-K style pension plan for new hires.

Bill sponsor Damon Thayer says the bi-partisan support for the bill shows the need for continued cooperation on pensions.

"This is not a perfect bill," said the Georgetown Republican. "There are certainly other ways that this can be done. But in this town and in this building, when have we ever given up the good for the sake of the perfect. This is a good bill, Mr. President."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber is still debating ways to handle the pension issue. Stumbo says any legislation must fully fund state pensions, and Senate Bill 2 currently does not.

Kentucky LRC

An effort to reform Kentucky's underfunded pension systems passed in its first hearing Wednesday from a state Senate committee meeting.

Senate Bill 2 stems from the recommendations of a legislative task force  that met over the summer to try and solve the pension problems.

It includes a suspension of cost of living adjustments and creates a new hybrid plan that acts like a 401-K with a promised rate of return.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, the bill sponsor, said the need for pension reform isn't a partisan one.

Efforts to reform the laws concerning more than 1,000 special taxing districts are quickly moving in Frankfort this week.

The reforms were filed as House Bill 1 Tuesday and are a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It would create an online registry to list the special districts and their required financial paperwork.

It would also re-designate them as special purpose governmental entities. The registry will be paid for initially with a special appropriation through the governor's office, then supplemented by fees on the special districts.

Edelen says the quick path the bill is expected to take shows that Frankfort can work to together on meaningful reforms.

Another change in Kentucky’s financial outlook has the state’s business leaders calling on the General Assembly for immediate pension reforms.

Standard and Poor’s has changed Kentucky’s outlook to negative, citing the state's large unfunded pension obligations as the main reason.

In response, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, as well as 50 other business groups, held a news conference to demand that lawmakers pass the recommendations from last year’s pension task force as they were presented.

Chamber President and former Owensboro mayor David Adkission said the change is the best reason for why reforms need to happen soon.