Greg Stumbo

Kentukcy LRC

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is moving forward with awarding $100 million for workforce training projects despite a warning from the top House Democrat that the actions could be illegal.

Bevin wants to borrow $100 million and use it to aid programs that train Kentucky's workforce. Wednesday, a committee appointed by Bevin and legislative leaders reviewed 114 proposals and approved 91 of them to submit formal applications next month.

The state legislature passed a law detailing how that money would be spent, but Bevin vetoed it and is developing the criteria himself. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo sued, saying Bevin's veto was illegal. The case is pending.

The Bevin administration is mostly following the criteria that lawmakers approved. One difference is Bevin is not requiring the money to be distributed evenly among  Kentucky's six congressional districts.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says Gov. Matt Bevin should be investigated for allegedly halting a road project as political punishment for a state representative who refused to switch political parties.

Rep. Russ Meyer, a Democrat from Nicholasville, released audio of a voicemail he received from the governor in December in which he says Bevin threatened retribution for not switching political parties.

“I want to make sure you understand where things are in my mind and the decisions that I’m going to make in the days ahead, the weeks ahead, months ahead,” Bevin says in the voicemail. “I want you to be very aware of what the impact of those decisions will be as it relates to you, your seat, your district, etcetera, just so that we have all the cards on the table.”

According to a story by CNHI News reporter Ronnie Ellis, Meyer said the voicemail was left on Dec. 17, 2015, shortly after he told the governor’s chief of staff, Blake Brickman, that he wouldn’t be switching parties.

LRC Public Information

Republican members of the Kentucky House are planning to boycott a meeting on the state’s under-funded pension system.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo has called lawmakers to return to Frankfort Tuesday, but the GOP is calling it a trick. 

Representative Jim Decesare says it’s no coincidence that a Democratic caucus fundraiser is being held the same evening.  The Warren County Republican says Stumbo is essentially asking taxpayers to foot the bill for Democratic members to travel to Frankfort for a political event.

"Thirty thousand dollars is our best estimate of what it will cost the taxpayers of Kentucky to have a meeting where really no action can take place and not involve the governor or the Senate," DeCesare told WKU Public Radio.  "It just seems like bad government."

Representative Decesare says the House could have acted last session and blamed Democratic House leadership for killing legislation that would have brought more transparency to the pension system. 

Stumbo says he called the meeting after receiving more bad news about the state-managed retirements funds, including a 1.3 percent loss on returns into the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

Kentucky LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has called for an impromptu meeting of the state House of Representatives Tuesday to discuss the state’s troubled pensions systems.

The summoning came days after lawmakers received more bad news about the state-managed retirement funds — a 1.3 percent loss on returns into the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and a 0.5 percent loss on investments in the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

In an emailed statement, Stumbo said Friday he called the meeting because of the poor returns and because the pension agencies are paying what he called “exorbitant placement fees” for investment managers.

“Several members have asked about this issue, and many have gotten questions from their constituents, so I thought this would be the best way to answer their questions and therefore invited the full chamber,” Stumbo wrote.

Stumbo Calls Meeting of House to Discuss Pension System

Aug 26, 2016
Kentukcy LRC

Kentucky's Speaker of the House has called a meeting of all state representatives to discuss the beleaguered public pension system.

An email to legislative assistants obtained by The Associated Press shows Speaker Greg Stumbo said all House members "are invited and encouraged to attend" a meeting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in the House chambers. The email says members will "discuss several complex issues" and is signed by Stumbo.

Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson confirmed the meeting and said the main focus will be to discuss the state retirement system in light of recent low investment returns. Public pension systems for teachers and state workers have an estimated combined debt of more than $30 billion, making it one of the worst funded pension systems in the country.

Ryland Barton

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, saying the governor didn’t properly deliver vetoes to the Secretary of State at the end of this year’s legislative session.

At stake in the lawsuit is Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget, which could be reversed if Stumbo is successful.

Bevin’s office says the vetoes were delivered to House Clerk Jean Burgin’s office, who Bevin’s attorney says promised to properly deliver the documents to the Secretary of State’s office, as required by law.

The documents never wound up in the Secretary of State’s office, though copies of them were delivered — a move that Bevin’s office says was necessary because Burgin’s office was locked at the end of the day on April 27, the last day vetoes could be filed.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, accused Stumbo of obstructing the proper delivery of the vetoes, saying he had “unclean hands.”

Ryland Barton

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Gov. Matt Bevin, saying that he improperly vetoed several bills passed during this year’s legislative session.

Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, questioned the validity of vetoes to six bills, including line-item vetoes to the state budget, which he says were improperly delivered and signed.

He also says Bevin violated the constitution by not including “veto messages” that explain the rationale for several line-item vetoes to the state budget.

“The constitution clearly states that the message shall be accompanied with the veto so that people understand why or what his reasoning was when vetoing that particular part or parts of the appropriation bill,” he said.

If Stumbo’s suit is successful, Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget would be reversed, meaning free preschool would be expanded from 160 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and $840,000 would be set aside for the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation and $7.5 million for indigent care in Jefferson County.

Rae Hodge

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber’s version of the state budget will likely include no cuts to higher education in the current fiscal year. 

Speaker Stumbo said Friday that he could almost assure there will be no cuts this fiscal year to any universities in the House budget.  The Courier-Journal reports the Democratic leader made the comment shortly before lawmakers went into session.  Stumbo went on to say that the goal of his chamber would be to restore all proposed cuts to higher education and public school programs. 

Republican Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed budget would make 4.5 percent cuts to universities this year and reduce state funding by nine percent in the next two years.  Bevin argued the cuts are necessary to help make up a shortfall in the state pension system. 

House lawmakers will vote on their version of the budget early next week.  Governor Bevin has said that he will not sign any budget that includes more debt.

Kentucky LRC

On Monday, reporters huddled in the state Capitol waiting for a potentially big announcement. They were aware of rumors — incorrect ones, it would turn out — that multiple Democratic state House members had switched to the Republican side, changing the balance of power in the last Democratic-controlled legislative branch in the South.

That Kentucky political observers would even entertain the thought shows a palatable shift in the balance of power in a state where Democrats have a decades-long advantage in local politics.

Now, with an ascendant state GOP, the Kentucky Democratic Party is looking for a new leader.

Last weekend, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Patrick Hughes announced he was stepping down after less than a year on the job.

State Democrats are in a perilous position. As party leaders look to replace Hughes, they should have a couple of things in mind, political observers say.

Stumbo Backing Medical Marijuana Bill

Jan 6, 2015

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring a bill that would make it legal for people to smoke marijuana in Kentucky for medical purposes.

The measure would require doctors to be trained before they could prescribe the drug to patients, and Stumbo said the state would have a strict oversight system in place to make sure prescriptions were not abused.

Kentucky lawmakers have softened their stance toward the cannabis plant in recent years. Last year, the state harvested its first hemp crop in decades and the state Legislature approved a bill allowing researchers to conduct medical experiments with cannabis extract.

Stumbo said he filed the bill because he believes lawmakers need to discuss the medical marijuana issue.

Kentucky LRC

A four-day event that is expected to generate $2 million for the local economy is coming to Lexington in the summer of 2016.  

The Southern Legislative Conference has announced its 70th annual meeting will be held in Kentucky July 16-20 of 2016. It’s the largest regional meeting of state officials.

The Lexington conference will come in the same year Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers will be serving as chairman of the SLC. Stivers, along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo are co-chairs of the planning committee for the 2016 meeting. 

Kentucky GOP Unveils "Handshake with Kentucky" Plan

Sep 2, 2014
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:

Kentucky LRC

A recent survey shows Kentucky ranks near the bottom when it comes to average Internet speed. One Kentucky lawmaker says a bill that passed with bi-partisan support the Senate, but languished in the House, could help boost access to broadband.  

Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says Senate Bill 99 would have reduced companies’ obligation to provide traditional landline service to some areas of Kentucky, freeing them up to invest in broadband.

“Speaker[Greg] Stumbo made a commitment last summer that that bill would be voted on. He indicated he did not support it, but he would allow it to be voted upon this past legislation session,” said Hoover.

The bill was approved by the Kentucky Senate on a 34-4 vote, but was not put up for a full vote in the House.  The Jamestown Rep. says the bill was changed this year to reduce the number of residents whose traditional landline service might be affected. He says it would have been less than 5,000 households.

“But the important thing was, it would have allowed AT&T and some others to move forward on their hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in infrastructure to better serve those exact areas,” said Hoover.

Critics object to the part of the bill that lets phone companies cut back on the areas in which they’re required to provide landline telephone service.

Yarmuth, State Lawmakers Rally To Raise Minimum Wage

Aug 4, 2014
LRC Public Information

Democratic U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth led a rally in Louisville Monday to advocate a raise in the federal minimum wage. The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is reviewing whether cities like Louisville can do it on their own without federal or state legislation.

 “It is critical that we keep the House in Democratic hands, or all of our progressive values will be gone,” said Louisville state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian.

She cosponsored a bill in the General Assembly this year that mirrors a federal effort to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. It passed the House along largely party lines, but died in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Despite her rhetoric that the issue is contingent upon keeping her Democratic Party in control of the state House, where it maintains a narrow eight-seat advantage, the Kentucky Attorney General is reviewing whether or not cities like Louisville can pass their own minimum wage laws.

A spokesman for the AG’s office said they are requesting input from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office toward this end, but did not say when an official opinion will be issued.

Kentucky Speaker: Local Option Sales Tax is Focus

Jul 30, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says House Democrats' top priority for the 2015 legislative session could be letting local governments temporarily raise taxes to pay for large construction projects.

Stumbo had previously said the House would focus on legalizing casino style gambling in Kentucky, an issue pushed by the state's formidable horse racing industry and its popular Democratic governor.

But that changed when Churchill Downs, Louisville's iconic horse racing track, donated money to a political action committee dedicated to electing Republicans to the state legislature. Democrats have an eight-seat majority in the House, one of the last Democratic-controlled state legislative bodies in the south.

The local option sales tax would let local governments impose a temporary 1 percent sales tax to pay for large projects. Voters would have to approve the tax first.

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