by Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio
The seventh straight special session in Frankfort has ended with agreements on a transportation budget and House Bill 1, dubbed the “pill mill bill.”
The former survived after eleventh hour negotiations between the House and Senate produced a watered down compromise. The revised bull keeps KASPER, the state’s drug tracking database, under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and does not move it to the Attorney General’s office, as was originally planned. But the bill guarantees funding for KASPER’s expansion.
“You know I would’ve preferred a stronger version, but obviously after conferring with the Attorney General’s office, prosecutors, and most importantly the governor,” says House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “They recommended we pass it, take another step forward.”
The transportation budget bill passed without changes that would have restored $50 million dollars in projects vetoed by Governor Beshear. The amendments died after the House failed to recognize them as “germane” to the governor’s special session proclamation.
In an animated speech before his chamber, Senate President David Williams, whose district was most affected by the vetoes, pointed his finger at the governor for dragging out the process.
“It was just an act of vindictiveness and defiance,” he said. “Maybe he’s gotten that out of his bloodstream. I hope so.”
But the House majority continued the blame game, putting the responsibility for the special session and legislative delays on Williams.
“Everybody knows whose fault it is. It’s the people’s in charge of the Senate,” said Stumbo.
All told, the session will cost taxpayers more than $300,000 dollars.