Greg Stumbo

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.

Kentucky LRC

After dismissing the idea last fall, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is warming to the idea of actress Ashley Judd running for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Judd has begun reaching out to Kentucky Democratic leaders; Stumbo said on Thursday that he'll tell Judd that, should she enter, the race is winnable.

"Ashley Judd, if she chooses to get into this race, will be a formidable candidate by the time the race is over I'm convinced of that," Stumbo said.

Stumbo, a Pikeville Democrat, is closely associated with Kentucky's coal country.

Stumbo: No Kentucky Tax Overhaul Coming This Session

Feb 19, 2013

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he doesn't expect a tax reform package to be brought up for a vote in the current legislative session.

Stumbo told reporters Tuesday that such a package doesn't have the 60 votes necessary to pass in the House.

A special commission appointed by the governor proposed reforms that could generate about $690 million a year in additional revenue.

Stumbo said one of the proposals made by the commission could surface in days ahead as a method of shoring up Kentucky's weakening pension system for government retirees. That proposal calls for raising the cigarette tax from 60 cents to $1 a pack, which could generate $100 million for the pension system.

A leading Kentucky lawmaker says raising the cigarette tax to $1 a pack would generate about $100 million a year that could be used to shore up the pension system for government retirees.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters that that's one of several options House lawmakers are considering to bolster the pension system, which has a $33 billion unfunded liability.

The Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill last week that requires the state to make its full contribution to the pension system but doesn't identify a funding source to do that. Stumbo said the Democratic-led House wants a designated funding source.

The Senate bill also would create a 401(k)-like hybrid retirement plan that some House lawmakers want to remove from the legislation.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky's top two legislative leaders say the local option sales tax isn't likely to come up this year.

The local option would allow cities and counties to put temporary sales tax increases to a public vote. It would typically be used to pay for infrastructure projects.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are the major forces behind the option, and a bill amending the state Constitution to allow it has been filed in the Senate.

But Senate President Robert Stivers says his chamber doesn't want to put more tax burdens on individuals.

A bill reforming how the state's special districts are categorized and making them more transparent easily passed the state House this morning, 96-1.

State Rep. Lynn Belcher, a Republican from Crittenden County, was the lone "no" vote.

Many local library boards, sewer districts and fire districts are considered special taxing districts separate from other types of government.

House Bill 1 is a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It helps create a central registry of special districts as well as reforms how they file their financial information and sets penalties when they fail to do so.

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