Regular Session Complete: Weekly Update March 11

By the time this week’s column is printed, the 2013 regular session of the legislature will be essentially complete. There will be two days left at the end of March to review and possibly override what if anything the Governor has vetoed, but there won’t be any days left to pass additional legislation. As this is written, neither tax reform nor pension reform has been passed in both chambers.

Licensing of industrial hemp and House redistricting did move forward in committee, with redistricting making it to the full House for a vote, but the industrial hemp issue still undecided.
A redistricting plan drawn by House leadership was approved along partisan lines with all Republicans and one Democrat in opposition and the remainder of the House (all Democrats) voting yes. The plan totally redraws our current district. Should it ultimately become law, the new plan leaves Caldwell County and Crittenden County joined, but removes Livingston County and McCracken County and replaces them with a large portion of Hopkins County. This new district would be District 5. Livingston County and some of McCracken County currently in District 4 would remain joined, but would add some new area precincts in McCracken County as well as a portion of Graves County and would be District. The remainder of McCracken County currently in District 4 would be shifted to District 3 which includes most if not all of Paducah.

The new plan pits eleven Republican incumbents, including me, against each other, one Republican incumbent running against the Majority (Democrat) Floor Leader, and no Democrat incumbents running against each other. As you can see, it is politics at its worst, so it isn’t surprising why all 45 Republicans voted against the plan.

On a more positive note, SB 50 the industrial hemp framework bill passed in Committee with only one no vote. I was proud to be able to vote yes for the bill which I hope will eventually lead to more jobs in our district. I should point out that the fact that we were able to actually get to vote on the bill in committee is directly attributable to the citizens of our great Commonwealth. The outcry over the unconscionable refusal of the Agriculture Committee Chairman to allow a vote the previous week is what finally turned the tide. Hopefully, the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader will allow the bill to come to a vote in the full House. If that happens, I am confident that the bill will pass with overwhelming support.

You may recall that I reported last week that HB 279 the Religious Freedom Act of which I was a cosponsor, passed the full House last week and was sent to the Senate for concurrence. I am happy to report that the Senate passed the bill and it will go to the Governor for signature.

Several Senate bills are waiting on House action. One of those is SB 129 which prohibits the enforceability of any new federal law, rule, regulation, or order relating to the ownership or registration of certain firearms, magazines, or other firearms accessories. Since the House Bill I drafted saying the same thing was never called for a committee vote, I am trying to get the Senate bill to be called for a vote. Toward that end, I have signed a discharge petition with several of my colleagues to force the bill to the House floor for an up or down vote. Hopefully there are enough like minded Representatives who will vote to bring the bill out of committee.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you; your input is most welcome. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 800-372-7181, directly at 502-564-8100 ext 665, or by visiting the Kentucky Legislature Home page at www.lrc.ky.gov and clicking on the “Email Your Legislator” link. You can also keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page and clicking on the “2013RS Record” link