Greg Stumbo

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.

Kentukcy 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.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky legislative leaders say they haven't responded yet to Gov. Steve Beshear’s request to delay General Assembly redistricting in the 2013 session.

Senate President Robert Stivers says his leadership team has not yet decided on a response and that many in his chamber are conflicted on when to address redistricting.

“And we all have varying opinions on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done and one thing I don’t think we need to do is a special session,” he says.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’d like to get the issue out of the way, but will work with Stivers and the governor on a resolution during the legislature’s upcoming two week break.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky legislative leaders say solutions on how to pay for Kentucky’s underfunded pensions won’t likely be addressed in the 2013 legislative session.

Both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers say there will likely be a bill to introduce changes to the pension systems. But they also agree that such a bill is unlikely to deal how to fund the changes.

What they disagree on is when to deal with the funding solutions. Stumbo says pension funding should be dealt with in a special session, hand in hand with tax reform.

“There’ll be a bill, I don’t know whether it will be addressed," Stumbo says. "I think that we need, probably, to address the entire issue and that include the funding mechanism."

But Stivers says lawmakers should pass the changes now and deal with fully funding the pension system starting in 2014, when a new budget must be passed.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is joining calls for a nation debate about gun issues in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings, and also said that violent video games are a cause of such violence.

Stumbo says he’s a lifelong National Rifle Association member and an avid outdoorsman — and he has helped many NRA-friendly bills pass in Kentucky. But he’s joining other rural Democrats in their call for a discussion on gun control.

“But I join Sen. Joe Manchin in saying that it’s time for America to have an adult discussion about what happened and what needs to happen to keep those events from happening in the future,” Stumbo said.

Gov. Steve Beshear expressed similar sentiments after the Newtown shooting, which left 27 people dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the shooter.

Stumbo did not go into details about what proposals he would favor.

Is now the time for the General Assembly to address expanded gambling? (Again.) With just more than a month before the 2013  session begins, observers of the Kentucky legislature are wondering. A few new factors are at play: First is the governor’s continued interest in the topic. Second expanded gambling's chief opponent, David Williams, is gone.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is no longer demanding that any legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling in Kentucky start in the Senate. "That line in the sand doesn't have to be drawn anymore," Stumbo told reporters during a Capitol press conference on Thursday. "I don't care if it's a House bill or a Senate bill."

The No. 1 priority for the Kentucky House in 2013 is set: Tackling recommendations from a recent report that found that special tax districts have big budgets and little oversight.  Auditor Adam Edelen recently finished a report on the districts, detailing billions of dollars in spending with little or no oversight.

A battle may be brewing over the future of Kentucky higher education -- should the state add another state university, this one serving Appalachia? The leader of the Kentucky House said he won't support any extra funding for higher education until the University of Pikeville joins the state university system.