Robert Stivers

Politics
4:05 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

To Count or Not to Count is the Question for Kentucky's Special Legislative Session

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.

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Politics
3:04 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Beshear Meets with Legislative Leaders on Redistricting Plans

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.

Elections
10:55 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Kentucky Senate Approves Electronic Voting Bill That Requires Snail Mail Returns

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate President Robert Stivers are key backers of the e-voting military bill.
Credit 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.

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Health
3:39 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Bill Dealing With Medicaid Late Payments Has Support in Kentucky Senate

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.

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Expanded Gambling
7:56 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Kentucky Senate President: No Chance for Casino Gambling this Session

The capitol dome in Frankfort
Credit Kevin Willis

Senate leaders are sensing little interest in a bill that could legalize casinos in Kentucky and won't consider the issue in the current legislative session.

Senate President Robert Stivers, the Republican from Manchester, said Friday lawmakers would have little time to deal with the issue amid an already heavy agenda that includes shoring up the state's pension system for government retirees.

Despite a long history of wagering on horses, Kentucky has never allowed casinos. And lawmakers have been reluctant to change that in the Bible-belt state, knowing they may face disapproving constituents in future elections.

Gov. Steve Beshear, a leading proponent of casino gambling, said last week that passing casino legislation this year would be unlikely because the proponents were divided on how to proceed.

Elections
7:05 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Kentucky's Senate Bill One Ensures Voting Rights of Soldiers Overseas

Senate President Robert Stivers kept a pledge Friday by sponsoring legislation aimed at ensuring Kentucky soldiers deployed overseas can cast their ballots back home through an electronic transmission system that the secretary of state will be required to develop.

The bill was given the designation "Senate Bill 1," signifying it is the Senate's top priority in the legislative session.

Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who backs the legislation, said 121 soldiers from Kentucky didn't have their ballots counted in last year's election because they didn't arrive back in the state by Election Day.

The biggest proposed change is that soldiers would no longer have to rely on traditional mail to return their ballots. The bill also would allow late ballots to be counted as long as they're back in the state before elections are certified, which happens three days after Election Day.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Kentucky Legislative Leaders Opposed to Local Option Sales Tax

Gov. Steve Beshear (left), Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo
Credit 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.

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Business
1:54 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Spirits Sellers to KY Legislators: Don't Wait for Appeals Ruling For New Liquor Law

If a federal judge's ruling goes into effect, businesses that sell liquor in Kentucky may see increased competition — and those businesses are encouraging legislators to act before an appeals  decision comes down.

Judge John Heyburn tossed the laws last year,  saying it was unconstitutional to allow places like drug stores to sell some wine and liquor, but not groceries.

But Heyburn put that ruling on hold to let lawmakers re-write the laws. Since that point, interested groups have been working on solutions to keep a free-for-all for liquor licenses across the state from happening.

State Senate President Robert Stivers says he wants to wait on an appeals ruling in the case  are finished before lawmakers tackle the issue.

But Roger Leasor, the Director of Community Relations with Liquor Barn, a company that owns many liquor stores across Kentucky, says that's a bad idea.

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Business
4:00 am
Sun January 13, 2013

Robert Stivers: Let's Exhaust Legal Appeals Before Reforming Liquor Laws

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.

Politics
10:58 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Kentucky Legislative Leaders Undecided On Whether to Delay Redistricting in Kentucky

Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Rockfield (right), discusses legislation with Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville (left), and Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect, in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Credit 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.

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