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."
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.
House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, a defense attorney by trade, has known and worked with Mark Stanziano for many years and says he was stunned by the news out of Somerset Friday morning.
Stanziano, 57, was fatally shot as he walked near his law office. Police have taken 40-year-old Clinton Inabnitt into custody in connection with Stanziano's death. He's now charged with murder.
“Well I was just in shock and disbelief,” said Hoover. “Then I was sick at my stomach thinking that such a senseless act could take place, you know, just a guy going to his law office and he gets gunned down.”
Hoover, who works in neighboring Russell County, says Stanziano never shied away from taking high-profile cases and called him a “very, very good” defense attorney.
“He was very knowledgeable; he was very good in front of a jury. He did not shy away from high-profile or high-publicity cases. In fact, I think Mark enjoyed those.”
Hoover says representing accused criminals in small town, high-profile cases can be especially challenging. He says he had known Stanziano for many years and had several cases pending with him.
Police say the man charged in connection with Stanziano’s death had contact with the attorney as recently as Thursday. Inabnitt told police Stanziano had failed to help him with an unknown problem.
Newly elected U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will make a fundraising appearance in Bowling Green next month. The purpose of the visit is to raise money for GOP state house candidates. Scott Lasley, chairman of the Warren County GOP says Congressman Brett Guthrie likely played a big role in helping to bring a high-profile name like McCarthy to Bowling Green.
“There are at least 230 Republican members who would love to have him come to their districts and help raise money for, in this case, the state party. It reflects the level of respect that Congressman Guthrie has from his colleagues and also reflects what types of relationships he’s been able to form while in Washington,” said Lasley.
Lasley says there’s “no guarantee” the GOP can win the five seats needed to take control of the Kentucky House, but he says the party has its best shot in years. He says if they can accomplish their goal, it could move more critical than winning the governor’s office.
“If Republicans are successful and are able to control the House and the Senate, you’re going to see tax reform, you’re going to see some discussion of things like right-to-work and a whole range of issues. It would be significant,” said Lasley.
There hasn’t been a Republican majority in the state house since 1920.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press, current House Speaker, Democrat Greg Stumbo writes “House Republicans want to bring more Washington-styled politics to Kentucky, which is the last thing we need”
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.
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.
Right-to-work legislation has died in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
The Republican-backed bill was met with stiff opposition from labor unions and House Democrats.
Committee Room 149 was standing room only, with union members crossed-armed along the edges of the packed hearing on a bill that would prohibit workers from paying union dues as a condition of employment.
They say the measure filed by House GOP Floor Leader Jeff Hoover would lower wages for all workers.
Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan says the decline in American jobs is related to free-trade agreements.
“It’s happening alright. Thirty-six-thousand-four-hundred jobs since 2001 due to our flawed trade agreements with China. Maybe we should be talking about that, and not right-to-work," Londrigan said to applause from many in the audience.
A prominent Republican has stepped forward to promote a long-debated proposal that seeks to amend Kentucky's Constitution to restore voting rights for some felons.
House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said Tuesday "it's a matter of fairness" to restore the voting rights of some felons of who have served their sentences and met conditions of probation.
The proposal championed by Democratic state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw easily cleared a House committee on Tuesday. Previous versions have passed the Democratic-led House but died in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Crenshaw says he has his "fingers crossed" that the Senate will approve the legislation.
The proposal would exclude people convicted of intentional murder, rape, sodomy or sex offenses with a minor from having their voting rights automatically restored.
Kentucky House Republican leaders are offering a legislative redistricting plan that would force eight incumbents to run against each other next year.
The map unveiled Thursday by House GOP Leader Jeff Hoover affects four Republicans and four Democratic lawmakers.
Hoover told WKU Public Radio the GOP plan is very different from a plan put forth earlier this year by Democrats that had nine Republicans running against each other, but no Democrats.
"What we put forward was a much fairer plan that puts one pair of Democratic incumbents against each other, one pair of Republican incumbents against each other, and two mixed pairings where there is an incumbent Republican against an incumbent Democrat," explains Hoover.
Given population shifts in Kentucky over the past decade, Hoover says it's impossible to redraw legislative boundaries without pitting incumbents against each other.