Robert Stivers

LRC Public Information

Kentucky’s Senate President says a GOP colleague does NOT have legal immunity from being charged with drunk driving.

The Courier-Journal reports that Robert Stivers made the comments after an attorney for Senator Brandon Smith of Hazard filed a motion seeking to dismiss charges against his client.

The lawyer says Smith, who was arrested for DUI on the first day of the legislative session, has immunity under a provision in the state constitution that prohibits lawmakers from being arrested while the legislature is in session.

But Senate President Stivers publicly disagreed with Smith’s interpretation, issuing a statement that said “no member of the General Assembly is above the law.”

Stivers said that while the state constitution afforded some degree of immunity, it clearly didn’t apply in the Smith’s DUI case.

Stivers Looks for Bipartisanship on Anti-Heroin Bill

Dec 11, 2014
LRC Public Information

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers says he hopes bills to combat heroin abuse and encourage investments by telecommunications companies can win bipartisan support in next year's General Assembly session.

But Stivers says Senate Republicans will also push more contentious proposals to rein in regulations and prohibit mandatory participation in a workplace union. He acknowledged such proposals would face strong resistance in the Democratic-led Kentucky House.

Senate Republican leaders spoke with reporters Thursday during a Senate GOP retreat in Owensboro.

Lawmakers will be in session for 30 days next year, but Stivers says they can take on big issues during the abbreviated session.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says next year's governor's campaign won't affect Senate action. But he says Senate Republicans will promote an agenda that a GOP governor could embrace.

Givens Selected Senate President Pro Tem

Nov 25, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Senate Republicans have nominated  Greensburg business owner David Givens to become the second-highest ranking official in the state Senate.

Republicans chose Sen. Givens to replace retiring Sen. Katie Stine as Senate president pro tem during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. It is the first leadership position for Givens, who lost to Sen. Damon Thayer as majority floor leader two years ago. Givens represents parts of Allen, Barren, Green, Metcalfe, Monroe and Simpson counties.

Republicans also ousted Sen. Brandon Smith as majority whip, replacing him with Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon. Higdon will resign as chairman of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee.

   Senate President Robert Stivers was nominated for another term. The Senate president and president pro tem must be voted on by the full Senate. But Republicans will control 26 of the 38 Senate seats, all but ensuring their nominee will win.

Kentucky LRC

A four-day event that is expected to generate $2 million for the local economy is coming to Lexington in the summer of 2016.  

The Southern Legislative Conference has announced its 70th annual meeting will be held in Kentucky July 16-20 of 2016. It’s the largest regional meeting of state officials.

The Lexington conference will come in the same year Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers will be serving as chairman of the SLC. Stivers, along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo are co-chairs of the planning committee for the 2016 meeting. 

Kentucky LRC

Tomorrow marks the start of the Southern Legislative Conference’s annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark. and Kentucky will be front and center. 

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers is expected to be nominated chair-elect, setting the stage for the Manchester Republican to be nominated as chairman of the SLC in July 2015. 

The following summer, in July 2016, representatives from the Southern Legislative Conference’s 15 states will meet in Lexington. That event is expected to bring 1,200 guests and generate $2 million in economic impact. 

This year's conference continues through Wednesday in Little Rock.

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.

Kentucky LRC

Campbellsville urologist Dr. James Angel is suing Senate President Robert Stivers, accusing him of blocking his re-appointment to the nine-member Fish and Wildlife Commission. A 2010 rule limits commission members to two terms, but Angel is grandfathered in.

Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Angel to a fourth term, but his appointment was never brought up for a confirmation hearing before the legislative session came to an end this week.

Angel says Stivers was behind the decision. In comments made to the Courier-Journal, Stivers called the legal action a “lawsuit of desperation”.   

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate’s $20 billion budget proposal aims to defund the Affordable Care Act in the commonwealth, but its provisions won’t affect the program.

The Senate’s executive budget that was passed Monday disallows state general funds from being used to fund the ACA, the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, all of which are federally funded until the year 2017.

But the state budget only affects fiscal years 2014-2016, making the measure largely a political one in advance of November’s elections.

When asked what his chamber would do if the 321,000 Kentuckians enrolled via Kynect lost their coverage due to the ACA being defunded, Sen. President Robert Stivers said he would support “supplemental programs,” like health savings accounts, to help insure them.

Kentucky LRC

A proposal to limit the number of days lawmakers spend in session in Frankfort has passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee.  The bill sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers would reduce the length of the session from 60 days to 45 days in even-numbered years, like this one. 

Odd-numbered year sessions would go from 30 days to just five days, with an option to add 10 more days. Stivers says the bill would save the commonwealth seven million dollars. If the legislation clears the full Senate and house, voters must approve it in a November referendum.

Stivers Proposal Would Reduce Legislative Sessions

Mar 5, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers has proposed reducing the number of days lawmakers meet each year.

The Manchester Republican said Wednesday his proposal would save the state about $7 million each year and encourage more people to run for the General Assembly. He says the current schedule discourages many people from serving because they can't take that much time away from work.

His proposal is a constitutional amendment that would go on the November ballot if it clears the General Assembly.

He wants to limit sessions in even-numbered years to 45 days. Those sessions -- when lawmakers pass the state budget -- now last 60 days.

In odd-numbered years, lawmakers could meet up to 15 days. Those sessions now last 30 days.

Kentucky's highest-ranking Republican lawmaker says he will oppose any expanded gambling measure that uses political patronage to garner support.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers says while he is not opposed to gaming if it has unified support, he doesn’t want the issue to be advanced by a trade of votes for pet projects.

“I’m not talking about anything that’s illegal. It’s part of the process that somebody gets a road, or if you do this, we think we can do this, you know, the promising of these things in exchange for a vote. That puts us in a worse fiscal position, has the potential to put us in a worse fiscal position than we’re in now. And if that happens I’ll do everything from a policy standpoint to try to stop it.”

Two sets of expanded gaming bills have already been pre-filed in the legislature. Supports say gambling could raise hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue for the state.

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.

Kentucky Senate Approves Electronic Voting Bill That Requires Snail Mail Returns

Feb 27, 2013
Kentucky LRC

The state Senate has passed a bill that allows Kentucky military personnel to register to vote and receive ballots electronically—but they'll have to use snail mail to send the ballots back.

Senate President Robert Stivers would allow deployed citizens to register to vote and receive their ballots electronically.

Initially, a floor amendment to the bill would have allowed the military members to return the ballots electronically, but the amendment was withdrawn by sponsor Sen. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat.

Stein said she thinks the state House will reinsert that provision into the bill.

A bill moving Medicaid late payment claims to the Department of Insurance appears to have some support in the state Senate.

House Bill 5 would take prompt pay issues with the Medicaid managed care system and put it through the Insurance Department's current claims process. Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services deal with late claims.

Sen. Julie Denton, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said she plans to give the bill a hearing and supports the bill's attempts to make managed care organizations pay providers.

"I think anything we can do to have more oversight and more assistance in keeping them in compliance with their contracts is a welcome breath of fresh air," she said.