Greg Stumbo

Minimum Wage Increase Passes Kentucky House Committee

Jan 30, 2014
Kentucky LRC

A bill aimed at raising the minimum wage in Kentucky has cleared a House committee.

The measure is a top priority of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who says the current minimum wage doesn't provide a living wage. The Prestonsburg Democrat says full-time employees working for the minimum wage make less than the average cost of a used car in the U.S.

The bill was approved by the House Labor and Industry Committee on Thursday.

Under the bill, the state's minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2016. There would be a 95-cent increase this July and another 95-cent boost in July 2015.

Stumbo says Kentucky's minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009.

Kentucky LRC

The Speaker of the Kentucky House is signaling that a bill designed to fight heroin stands a good chance of passing his chamber this year.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo was quoted by the Courier-Journal as saying the odds of the bill passing the House are “pretty good”, given that lawmakers have shown a bipartisan ability to back legislation battling illegal drugs. A bill sponsored by Senate Republican Katie Stine seeks to increase the punishment of those convicted of selling high-volumes of drugs while increasing access to substance abuse treatment centers for addicts.

Stine’s bill passed the full Senate on Thursday and is now being considered by the House.

The northern Kentucky lawmaker says her part of the state has seen its treatment centers and law enforcement agencies swamped by a major surge in heroin abuse.

The Courier-Journal reports defense attorneys are objecting to a part of the bill that would help prosecutors convict some drug dealers of homicide when the sale of illegal drugs results in overdose deaths.

Kentucky LRC

No charges will be filed after a Kentucky lawmaker accidentally fired her personal handgun in her Capitol office.

Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs released a statement acknowledging that the gun went off indoors Tuesday, hitting a wall and a bookshelf.

Combs says she has had a concealed carry permit for years, and she still believes in protecting Second Amendment rights. The state police have ruled the shot an accident and won't press charges.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the incident doesn't mean the laws that allow guns in the capitol should be changed.

“I don’t see anything that needs to be changed," the Floyd County Democrat said. "Somebody’s gonna have to convince me otherwise. I mean, it was an unintentional discharge. I think it’s good policy that people like Leslie who, females, who work here late, have to go to their cars, go to functions, sometimes they’re trying by theirselves [sic], have the right to carry and protect theirselves.”

The story has gained national attention, but Stumbo says he doesn't think it will hurt the state's reputation.

Stumbo Advocates Higher Minimum Wage in Kentucky

Jan 3, 2014
Kentukcy LRC

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring legislation that would raise the state's minimum wage. House Bill 1 would raise the rate from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over three years.

Stumbo says the increase is needed to keep wages in line with inflation, and would help struggling working-class families across the Commonwealth.

“There needs to be something done to help level the playing field for people who work for minimum wage,” said Stumbo. “It needs to be raised, it’s not been raised since 2009, it’s been eroded obviously by inflation and cost-of-living, so, you’re gonna hear us talk about issues that deal with real, live, working Kentucky families, and try to make their lives easier and better.”

With a full time job, $7.25 an hour brings in $15,000 a year. Stumbo says that's not enough, and his raise would give full-time minimum wage workers about $21,000 a year.

“There’s been studies that show that small business owners agree that raising the minimum wage stimulates the economy, it makes for a better workplace.”

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers has indicated he would not support the plan.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky’s budget priorities for 2015 could require nearly $1 billion in revenue that the  state doesn’t have.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo told a group of business leaders earlier this month that the cost of  funding priority issues like education, public employee raises and more could total an estimated $800 million.

“It would probably be more of a number like $700 to $800 million--and some would argue larger than that. It just depends upon how big a bite of the apple you want to take, but I don’t think we can do that.”

Stumbo says the recession is the driving force behind the shortfall, and Kentucky’s economic growth rate will return to pre-recession levels in about two to three years in the absence of tax reform.

Gov. Steve Beshear will submit his budget proposal to the General Assembly next month.

Kentucky Lawmakers Facing Major Budget Gap in 2014-15

Dec 16, 2013
Kentucky LRC

New revenue in Kentucky’s upcoming biennial budget will not be enough to account for an estimated $450 million shortfall.

Lawmakers expect about $230 million in new revenue to be available for the budget. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo recently told a group of Kentucky’s top business leaders that more than half of that money will be used to pay down the state’s pension debt

“In about a $12 billion budget, it looks like there might be somewhere around a $100 million of new dollars, which is not even gonna allow us, quite frankly, to maintain status quo because just the cost of inflation," the Democratic House Speaker said.

Stumbo’s comments echoed those made by State Budget Director Jane Driskell, who has warned that budget cuts can be expected.

The Consensus Forecasting Group will meet this Thursday to provide the legislature with final budget numbers.

Kentucky House Speaker Not Worried About GOP Gains

Dec 12, 2013
Kentucky LRC

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo doesn't think this week's Republican victory in a special election is a sign of waning Democratic power in the chamber.

Republican Suzanne Miles bested Democratic challenger Kim Humphrey by about a hundred votes in a special election to fill a vacancy in West Kentucky’s 7th District.

Miles’ victory erodes Democrats’ majority in the House down to 54 seats against the Republicans’ 46. And Stumbo says he doesn’t think any House Democrats will change parties to curry favor with a potential GOP majority.

“We might have a Republican or two that flips, but I don’t think you’re gonna see any Democrats that do it … And we congratulate Ms. Miles and look forward to serving with her. It’s [sic] a close race, hundred votes or so … and I expect that, I expect that, I don’t think there’ll be any changes either way.”

The seventh district seat opened up after Democratic Rep. John Arnold resigned during a growing sexual harassment scandal. Arnold won re-election in 2012 by just five votes.

Kentucky Legislative Heads Want Meeting to Replace Sherman

Sep 28, 2013
Kentucky LRC

Legislative leaders want to meet to choose an interim replacement for Bobby Sherman, the former director of the Legislative Research Commission who resigned last week.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Friday that legislative leaders need to also lay the groundwork for a search for a permanent replacement.
  
Sherman quit abruptly last Friday, saying in a resignation letter that he had been considering doing so for a long while. He created a dustup on Sunday when he returned to his Capitol office to clean out his desk and in doing so shredded some documents.
 
Now, state police have decided to investigate the shredding to see if any laws were broken. The meeting has been called for 1:30 p.m. EDT next Wednesday in Capitol Annex Room 125.

Kentucky lawmakers will go into special session later this year to craft new maps of political districts based on the most recent U.S. Census data.  Legislative leaders want a tentative agreement in place before returning to Frankfort, but one of the hang-ups is whether to include federal prisoners being held in the commonwealth.

Kentucky law says a prison cell is not a residence, and the inmate population can, but doesn't have to be taken into account when drawing political maps.  State lawmakers counted federal prisoners when they approved a new Congressional map last year.  That map was upheld by a judge while the legislative and judicial maps were ruled unconstitutional. 

Lawmakers will use this year's special session to redraw legislative and judicial maps.  Legislative leaders agree on the need for consistency, and contend they can't use one set of data for one map and different data for another.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo wants the congressional map amended and argues it would have a minimal impact on districts.

"There's only about 8,500 federal prisoners and the average congressional district is 770,000," explains Stumbo.

Senate President Robert Stivers argues consulting again with each congressman would prolong a costly special session.

"So now we get into a situation where we're engaging the federal delegation in a special session issue," remarks Stivers.

Gov. Steve Beshear was meeting Monday afternoon with House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers to try to work on a plan to resolve legislative redistricting.

The governor has said he is confident that the issue will be resolved in a special session sometime this year.

Each decade, lawmakers are required to draw new legislative district boundaries to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring changes in boundary lines to comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate.

Two federal lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks to speed up the process in Kentucky. One asks that a three-judge panel redraw boundaries.

State Rep. Derrick Graham has been named the new chairman of the state House Education committee, Democratic leaders announced today.

Graham is a Frankfort native who recently retired as a social studies teacher at Frankfort High School. He is a well-known education advocate and previously chaired a budget subcommittee on education.

“I want to congratulate Derrick, my friend and colleague, on his appointment as the House Education Committee’s newest chairman,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a statement.  “He has dedicated his life to education and has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities Kentucky faces academically."

Five House members of the Democratic majority have applied for the open chairmanship, the news release said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced Monday that hemp legislation won't be going any further this legislative session. 

The Courier-Journal reports the bill has been assigned to the Rules Committee. Stumbo told the newspaper "the calendar won't allow us to consider any bills that are in the Rules Committee."

Monday is the 26th day of the 30 day session. Monday and Tuesday are devoted to bills that have cleared both chambers, while the final two days of the session are reserved for overriding any gubernatorial vetoes.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky's legislative leaders have hope they can finish redistricting before the current session ends later this month.

New legislative districts were drafted and passed last year to reflect the 2010 Census. A judge threw them out, however, saying lawmakers did not properly divide up the state.

The House has already passed a new map of its districts, but the Senate has shown no interest in it.

Speaker Greg Stumbo says he wants the map approved so House lawmakers can know their new districts and make decisions on whether to run for re-election.

Democratic leaders in the Kentucky House won passage Wednesday of a legislative redistricting plan that could strengthen their majority by forcing 11 Republicans to run against each other next year.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 53-46 along party lines for the measure, which now moves to the GOP-led Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

House Republicans made emotional pleas not to pass the legislation, saying it was born out of "purely partisan politics."

"Nobody did it to be punitive to anybody in this chamber; I can assure you of that," House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in his pitch for the measure, drawing guffaws from Republican lawmakers.

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover called the legislation "another political play" by Democrats who want to protect their 55-45 majority in the House.

In its second try, the Kentucky House agriculture committee approved a bill Wednesday creating a regulatory framework for growing hemp in Kentucky, if the federal government were to legalize the crop.

The hemp bill—championed by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer—got only one "no" vote in the House agriculture committee.

Last week, an ag committee meeting abruptly ended after a tense exchange among lawmakers on the hemp issue.

Several House lawmakers said they voted for the bill to support farmers and hopefully create more jobs in the Bluegrass State.

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