Kentucky Lawmakers Form Metropolitan Caucus

A loose-knit group of Kentucky House members from the commonwealth’s more populated areas is meeting regularly in Frankfort. It’s called the Metropolitan Caucus, and it’s an informal group of Kentucky House members that meets regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The Kentucky General Assembly has a Subcommittee on Rural Issues, but no counterpart for metropolitan areas. Louisville Rep. Steve Riggs says that’s unfortunate, because population centers across the state have mutual interests, too. So, Riggs helped form the Metropolitan Caucus. The group hasn’t been officially recognized, but that doesn’t stop it from meeting regularly to discuss issues like law enforcement, transportation and education.

“We’re not a rural state anymore,” he says. “So, it’s a group of people who think that we can help Kentucky prosper by talking about the common concerns that we have – about how do we move Kentucky forward.”

“What we’re confronted with in northern Kentucky in many instances are the same issues confronted in Davies County and Warren County,” says Rep. Arnold Simpson of Covington. “Therefore, it we can create a platform where we can have meaningful dialogue with members of these other caucuses on a non-partisan basis, I think it’s very fruitful.”

Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo of Lexington says education funding is a frequent topic of discussion in the group.

“Right now we’re talking about the school SEEK formula in transportation, because the districts get anywhere from 45 percent to 152 percent,” she says. “And it hasn’t been revised since 1954.  And school districts have grown!”

Right now the caucus includes House members from northern Kentucky, Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort and Bowling Green, but the members hope to see the caucus grow, and gain official recognition by legislative leaders.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.