Greg Stumbo

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky’s two top-ranking lawmakers have  some choice words about new coal emissions regulations announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo are slamming the proposed rules, which will cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.  .

“You can’t formulate energy policy for a growing country like ours, if you’re not going to consider, as part of that solution, your most abundant resource," Stumbo said. "It doesn’t make any sense at all, it’s a dumbass thing to do, and you can quote me on that.”

Stumbo added that he didn’t think that the rules will affect the outcome of the November House elections, where Democrats hope to retain a narrow majority over Republicans.

The regulations are subject to public input and will be officially enacted a year from now.

Kentukcy LRC

The Humane Society of the United States is calling on House Speaker Greg Stumbo to strengthen the state’s cockfighting laws.  The request from Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle comes after a cockfighting ring was recently busted in McDowell, Kentucky. Three of Stumbo's distant relatives are accused of running the operation.  John Goodwin is the director of animal-cruelty policy at the Humane Society.

“Kentucky has one of the weakest cockfighting laws in the nation. The USDA’s affidavit said that is why people were coming from so many other states to the cockfights,” said Goodwin. “This is a lose-lose for animals and Kentucky’s communities, because this law is so weak it’s attracting this criminal element to Kentucky. They need to make it a felony, turn off the magnet and keep these criminals and animal abusers away from Kentucky.”

Kentucky is one of only nine states where cockfighting isn't a felony offense. It carries a misdemeanor charge in Kentucky, even though attending a fight is now a federal felony.

Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

The list of confirmed 2015 Kentucky candidates for governor grew Tuesday, when Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway announced he was running for the office.

He joins Republican and former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner, who announced earlier this year his gubernatorial bid.

Kentucky political observers will now turn their attention on a handful of other potential candidates for governor.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said he is strongly considering a run for Governor, but only if Democrats hang on to their majority in the state House.

Stumbo was the running mate for gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lundsford in 2007, a ticket that lost the primary to Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo.

Other potential Democratic 2015 candidates include state Auditor Adam Edelen and former U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler, who is currently executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council.

Former state Auditor Crit Luallen announced last month that she won’t run for governor.

On the Republican side, the most high-profile would-be candidate appears to be Agriculture Commissioner and Monroe County farmer James Comer.

Senator Rand Paul says raising the minimum wage would negatively impact job prospects for minorities and children.

The Courier-Journal reports that while speaking Monday night to a group of business owners and officials in Louisville, Sen. Paul said Congress could help the poor and unemployed by cutting corporate and personal income taxes in struggling areas.

The Bowling Green Republican has introduced a bill that would create what he calls “economic freedom zones” in zip codes where at least one-quarter of the residents live at or below the poverty line.

That move comes amid a debate at both the federal and state governmental levels over whether the minimum wage should be hiked. Congress is considering whether to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo sponsored legislation this year that would have increased the state’s minimum wage to that same level over the course of three years.

Kentucky LRC

By law, the only piece of legislation that the 2014  Kentucky General Assembly had to pass was a two-year state budget.

All else, as Will Rogers put it, is applesauce.

And with a session that began with a bang and ended with a whimper, it's what happened in between that House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers should be "proud" of.

Specifically, that they passed a compromised version of Gov. Steve Beshear's $20.3 billion state budget. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, however, took to the editorial page of The Courier-Journal to vent about what he dubbed a "lackluster" session.

But the truth probably lies somewhere between the extremes of "proud" and "lackluster."

Many political observers noted a reluctance among lawmakers to tackle controversial measures—chief among them tax reform—because of the impending November elections that will prove as a test for House Democrats to retain their slim eight-seat majority.

Here's a look at the winners, losers and downright lost causes of the 2014 General Assembly.

WINNERS

The coal industry—A slate of coal-friendly bills easily cleared the legislature, including one that allows coal-fired power plants in the state to regulate their own carbon emission standards at lower-than-federal-levels. Lawmakers also approved a bill that provides a new round of tax incentives for coal and coal-related industries to subsidize their purchase of new equipment.

After Late Night, Lawmakers Wrap Up Legislative Session

Apr 16, 2014
Kentucky LRC

This year's Kentucky legislative session is now over. Though many bills failed due to lack of compromise or attention, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers did what was expected of them from taxpayers by passing a two-year state budget.

But that chamber’s highest ranking Republican, Jeff Hoover, decried tactics by Democrats to amend bills at the last minute without giving Republicans enough time to study them. Lawmakers debated new amendments and legislative procedure right until the stroke of midnight.

Among the failed bills was a measure that would raise penalties for heroin traffickers and legislation that would restore voting rights for felons.

Kentucky LRC

A series of bills that would amend the state constitution and implement a local option sales tax to fund city and county projects has won support in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Thursday he now supports the bill following a conversation with Gov. Steve Beshear, and expects it to head to the House floor for a vote.

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins says the bill will likely be voted on Friday in order to give the Senate enough time to discuss it.

“I know that the issue is being worked right now, and don’t know myself … exactly where the vote count is, but I know there’s a lot of work going in by a lot of people to see if the votes are there to be able to bring it out here and debate it and see if it can more forward," said Adkins, a Democrat from Sandy Hook.

One House Republican had some strong words for Stumbo regarding his apparent about-face.

“It shows that he’s playing every side that he can," said Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover of Russell Springs. "He’s concerned about the political ramifications in November, and he’s playing every side that he can on every issue that he can and this is another example.”

If passed, the measure would go before voters this November, and would implement a 1 percent sales tax on top of Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax to fund local projects.

Tobacco companies have spent nearly $70,000 in the first month of the 2014 General Assembly, according to lobbying data from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

And the sponsor of a bill that would ban smoking in public places and some private businesses says that that money is sowing doubt over its chances in the House.

Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat, is the sponsor of the statewide smoking ban bill, which has languished on the House floor for over three weeks. She says that tobacco lobbyists routinely influence rural legislators and leadership of both parties to avoid tackling the issue.

“This does not surprise me, because they want to make sure that legislators who have a tobacco farmer in their backyard, they want them to believe that any tobacco farmer will be greatly offended if they support a health issue related to smoke-free.”

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says that mustering legislative support for a bill that would ban smoking in private businesses and public areas is “an uphill battle.”

Stumbo says that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, has only a handful of Republican  votes and about 30 Democratic votes.

He says despite his support, some lawmakers are apprehensive about the ban.

“The people in Prestonsburg already have it, for example. If I vote for it, the people out in the county, who might object to it, didn’t get that same local option treatment that the city people, that the folks in the city did. And we’re running into a lot of that.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear confirmed that he is working to persuade lawmakers individually to drum up support for the bill, which has languished in the House for nearly three weeks without a vote.

Over 30 localities across the state currently prohibit smoking in public areas and in some private businesses.

Kentukcy LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is invoking the state constitution as his reason for not appearing at next week’s legislative ethics hearing looking into sexual harassment allegations against former State Representative John Arnold.

Stumbo received a subpoena from Arnold’s lawyer, but says the constitution exempts him from appearing while the General Assembly is in session. Stumbo also tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that he has no knowledge of the complaints against Arnold, other than what he’s read in the news media. 

Arnold, who resigned last September, continues to deny allegations that he sexually harassed female LRC staffers.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers are drafting legislation that would tax Instant Racing games.

His comments Friday come one day after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the state Racing Commission has the authority to regulate the games.

But the court ruled that the pari-mutuel tax cannot be applied to the games.

Stumbo says the lack of legislative action on the issue could allow racetracks that offer the slot-like games to keep all the profits.

The Supreme Court returned the case to a lower court for more arguments on whether Instant Racing qualifies as a horse race or is illegal gambling.

Instant Racing games allow people to bet on the outcome of an old horse race without knowing which contest they are betting on.

Kentukcy LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has cosponsored a bill that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.

Stumbo is one of 18 cosponsors backing the proposed legislation filed by Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian.

The House Speaker says that his support for fairness coincides with his duty to uphold the constitution.

“I’ve never stood by and allowed people’s rights to be trampled in that manner. I don’t believe in it. I believe the constitution is exactly what it is: It requires that everybody be treated the same way regardless of your creed, color, national origin or sexual preference.”

Stumbo says that he thinks there’s increased support in his chamber for the bill compared to previous years.

Kentucky LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a federal judge's opinion that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The Floyd County Democrat doesn't think it will affect House elections this fall, where Democrats will defend a narrow 8-seat majority over Republicans.

“Whether you like it or not, that’s what the law says. Whether you like it or not, everybody’s rights need to be recognized by the constitution in equal manner. And that’s what the court found and that’s the state of the law," Stumbo said.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he is awaiting a final order in the case before he issues an opinion on the ruling or decides whether to appeal.

Kentucky House Passes Coal-counties Scholarship Bill

Feb 10, 2014

The Kentucky House has voted to expand a scholarship program for students in the state's coal regions. House members voted 92-0 Monday to send the bill to the Senate.

The measure is aimed at increasing the number of people achieving four-year college degrees in the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields. The scholarships would be awarded to students who, for the most part, attend four-year college campuses in coal counties, in hopes they stay there after getting their degrees.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says coalfield counties in eastern Kentucky lag behind other parts of the state in the percentage of its residents with four-year college degrees.

The measure seeks to make permanent a pilot project.

The scholarships are funded with coal severance tax money.

Minimum Wage Increase Clears Kentucky House

Feb 7, 2014

After more than two-and-a-half hours of debate, the Kentucky House passed a bill Thursday afternoon that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

The issue drew impassioned speeches from supporting lawmakers. 

The debate’s most incendiary comments came from Rep. Jim Wayne.  The characteristically soft-spoken Louisville lawmaker criticized what he called an economic caste system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

“The free market system will guarantee everyone a quality job. Not so; a big lie," argued Wayne.  "The only way capitalism works if for government to step in and set the rules. Now you don’t wanna hear that, but it’s the truth. And that’s what the New Deal was all about.”

Opponents said the higher wage would force some employers to cut jobs. They said it would add costs for school districts and local governments to pay low-wage employees.

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate. 

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