Work on reforming some of Kentucky’s liquor laws may wait until a federal appeals court rules on a current challenge.
A federal circuit judge threw out state laws dealing with where wine and distilled spirits can be sold, calling them unfair. Currently only select stores — such as liquor stores and pharmacies — can sell those beverages, while others — such as groceries — can only sell beer.
The judge’s ruling challenging that disparity is being appealed to the 6th Circuit and Senate President Robert Stivers wants to wait until that is resolved before his chamber gets involved.
“We have had some discussion of the issue, but we feel it appropriate and it’s my opinion and I feel it appropriate that until it is litigated and gone through the legal system, we don’t know if Judge Heyburn’s decision will be affirmed, or remanded or reversed,” he says.
So far, no proposals on how to change the law that would withstand the judge’s ruling has been put forth, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in public places are set to try their luck in passing such a law for the third legislative session.
Smoke Free Kentucky has started an advertising campaign to raise support for the smoking ban and a recent poll showed a majority of Kentucky support such a ban.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a statewide ban and believes such a bill would pass his chamber. A House committee passed the bill in 2012, but the bill's sponsor did not push it for a floor vote.
Many cities across Kentucky have implemented their own smoke free laws, including House Stumbo’s home, Prestonsburg. Lexington implemented the state's first smoke-free law in 2004.
And after three years of trying, the speaker says he believes his chamber will pass the bill.
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.
Giving Kentucky service members and their spouses the ability to cast absentee ballots electronically is the priority of the Kentucky State Senate heading into the 2013 legislative session, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers said on Monday.
Stivers says he’s taking recommendations from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to allow electronic voting for overseas military personnel.
The measure will be Senate Bill 1 — the title that usually goes to the chamber’s chief legislative priority every year. And Stivers says that if the legislation can be written in time, the Senate plans to pass it completely by the end of the session’s first week.
“If we can get the final drafts done and proceed, we hope to introduce it this week and if we can introduce it have at least preliminary hearings, if not a total hearing and have it either prepared to pass this week or upon our return,” he says.
A southern Kentucky legislator says one of the biggest questions heading into the next legislative session is how lawmakers will react to the absence of David Williams. The longtime Republican Senate President resigned his seat in the legislature late last year to become a Kentucky circuit judge.
Robert Stivers of Manchester is expected to become the next Senate leader when the 2013 General Assembly begins January 8. Democratic Rep. Wilson Stone of Allen County told WKU Public Radio he'll be interested to see what--if anything--changes when Stivers leads the Senate through his legislative agenda.
"People would say that President Williams really had good discipline within his caucus. And so that allowed him to be really powerful not only in the Senate, but really in Frankfort in general," said Stone, a Democrat from Scottsville. "Now, whether Robert Stivers now will have that same discipline, and move in the same direction, I don't know. It's hard to say."
With the 2013 Kentucky legislative session not far away, a lot of focus has been placed on the man considered to have the best chance of becoming the next Senate President. Republican Robert Stivers is expected to take over leadership of the chamber from David Williams, the Cumberland County Republican who resigned to become a circuit court judge in southern Kentucky.
A GOP lawmaker from our region told WKU Public Radio he doesn't believe there will be a great deal of policy change under the new Senate leader.
Rep. Michael Meredith of Edmonson County says the biggest difference could be in personality.
"David has been one of the most intelligent people to serve in the city of Frankfort for many, many years. He was very well-versed on policy, very well-versed on issues, but could be a very divisive character as well. And I can see some changes in that. Robert could very well not be as divisive as David was," said Meredith.
The State Senate Republican Caucus has officially nominated Senator Robert Stivers for Senate president. Stivers’ new role won’t be official until it’s voted on by the full chamber in early January. But the GOP holds a 24-14 advantage, meaning Stivers is all but certain to succeed former Senate President David Williams.
After more than a decade under the same leader, Senate Republicans are poised to choose their chamber's next president Tuesday in Frankfort. But regardless of the outcome, insiders are predicting the GOP majority will maintain an aversion to gambling, the very issue that many believe triggered a change in leadership.
Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers is already getting plenty of vocal support as the likely successor to David Williams as Senate president, days after Williams said he was resigning to take a circuit judge position.