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Frankfort Local News

David Williams Awaits Details Following State of the Commonwealth

Governor Steve Beshear’s chief legislative rival is still waiting to see the meat of the governor’s 2012 legislative agenda.

After the governor’s annual State of the Commonwealth address, Republican Senate President David Williams told reporters he gives Beshear credit for delivering a “pleasent speech,” but he’s still waiting to hear the details on proposals like expanded gambling, tax reform and other important issues to the governor.

“He didn’t detail what his position on gambling is,” Williams said. “Didn’t say anything about tax reform. He mentioned tax reform in his inaugural address, today he said he was going to talk about tax reform and make sure everyone has heard about it. But I don’t know his proposal.”

Beshear didn’t lay out a proposal for either issue in his speech, but he did say he was listening to “all sides” and every proposal when it comes to tax reform.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo gave Beshear more of a pass when it came to grading his annual speech. Comparing it to a pre-game pep talk, Stumbo said he thought the governor did a good job Wednesday night.

But the more interesting speech will be when Beshear delivers his budget. That speech, Stumbo said, will be the equivalent to the No. 1 ranked team facing a 30-point halftime deficit to an unranked team. “That’s when reality sets in,” Stumbo said.

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Frankfort

Kentucky Legislative Chambers Hold Moment of Silence for Galbraith

Lexington native and frequent political candidate Gatewood Galbraith never held elected office, despite his multiple attempts at landing jobs in Kentucky’s Capitol. But today, legislators in both chambers took a moment to remember Galbraith, the so-called pernennial candidate to Kentucky’s pernennial problems.

Galbraith passed away last night from complications related to emphysema.

Both the House and Senate chambers held a moment of silence while in session today. And there are plans tomorrow to introduce a memorial resolution in honor of Galbraith in the state Senate tomorrow.

Republican Senate President David Williams is one of two men who can say they ran against Galbraith in his last political race. And Williams, who will co-sponsor the memorial resolution with Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington tomorrow, released a statement saying he was saddened to hear the news.

“[Galbraith] and I were friends for almost four decades,” the statement said. “His wit, humor and intellect made him one of the most intriguing of Kentucky originals.”

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Greg Stumbo also expressed sadness over Galbraith’s passing, saying he was friends with Galbraith for much of his political career.

The chamber passed House Citation 2 this afternoon to honor Galbraith.

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Frankfort Local News

Legislative Leaders Want to Ward Off Gridlock, Say 2012 Session Has ‘Potential’

The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly is starting its 60-day budget session with a long list of issues to work out.

The highlights are obvious: gambling, the budget, and redrawing congressional districts. But lawmakers must also figure out how to shore up the state’s unemployment insurance and deal with Medicaid managed care problems. And there are always pet projects, like the debate over the cold remedy and meth ingredient pseudophedrine, various constitutional amendments and more.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has a solution for the starting the session and avoiding gridlock: don’t argue over things that won’t be solved.

“I think that we would all be better served if we find things we can agree upon and try and keep our fights to a very minimum. I think that’s what the people of Kentucky and the people of America wants us to do,” he says.

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Frankfort

Stumbo Signals Openness to Charter Schools

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s interested in hearing more about charter schools after a new group launched TV ads in support of the reform Tuesday morning.

In the past several years, Shelbyville Republican Brad Montell has introduced legislation into the house to legalize charter schools. And supporters in the state Senate have filed and passed bills in that chamber. All the measures have died in the House. But Stumbo says this could be the year that breaks the pattern.

“I’m open to listening because I think anytime that we have a new idea about education improvement we should listen,” says Stumbo. “But I have reservations because we can’t allow our public schools to be impacted negatively.”

Kentucky is among nine states that do not allow charter schools. Their absence is one issue many supporters say has kept the state from winning multiple Race to the Top federal education grants.

But this morning, a new group called Kentuckians Advocating Reforms in Education launched a TV ad across the commonwealth to promote charter schools. And other groups, like the Bluegrass Instititue, are getting under the umbrella called the Kentucky Charter School Project, which is working with Montell to pass charter schools legislation.

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Local News

Beshear Requests Budget Meeting With Williams, Stumbo

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Gov. Steve Beshear wants to meet with the top two leaders of the Kentucky General Assembly in the ongoing effort to secure a new state budget.

In a letter to Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Gov. Beshear recommends the three meet as soon as possible to establish a process for resolving the state’s budget situation.

Lawmakers left Frankfort last Thursday without passing a new biennial budget.

Beshear says he understands the House and Senate were very close to agreement, and urges the leaders “to not waste the hard work that has already been done, to pick up where you left off and resolve the short list of outstanding issues.”

There was no immediate response to the letter from either man.

Gov. Beshear intends to call a special session in May, in hopes of getting a budget agreement before June 1st. The new budget cycle begins July 1st.

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Local News

General Assembly Leaders Confident of Budget Resolution

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky House and Senate leaders are preparing for five weeks of intensive work, now that they have a broad budget outline.

House Democrats and Republicans were briefed on the budget outline Thursday and Speaker Greg Stumbo expects a budget bill to be out by the middle of next week. The spending plan is still around 200-million dollars short in the second year, but Stumbo’s not worried about that.

“I think before we leave here, we’ll probably have that closed – actually closed,” says Stumbo. “Because we are looking at some other options for savings, but we just didn’t have all the data to roll them out at this time.”

Senate President David Williams agrees, saying lawmakers still have plenty of time to search for additional efficiencies. The House hopes to have the budget to the Senate by the first week of March.

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Local News

Williams Predicts No Gambling Bill This Session

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Expanded gambling is again a hot topic of discussion in Frankfort, as lawmakers wrap up the first week of the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly.

As yet, no expanded gambling bills have been filed, except for a constitutional amendment requiring a vote by the people. But that’s not keeping the topic off the table.

It dominated the first weekly news conference by Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. And Williams made this bold prediction.

“There’s not going to be a gambling bill passed this session of the General Assembly.,” he said.

Speaker Stumbo still intends to file an expanded gambling bill allowing video slots at horse tracks, but not until after the governor’s budget speech. The bill won’t require a constitutional amendment.

Gov. Beshear delivers his budget address January 19th.

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Local News

Beshear Meets With Legislative Leaders on Special Session

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has shared with legislative leaders his plan for addressing an almost one billion dollar state budget shortfall. 

Governor Beshear spent almost two hours behind closed doors with House and Senate leaders. Afterwards, Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters, the governor is ordering an across the board, two-point-nine percent cut, but is sparing basic education funding, higher education and Medicaid. 

“I don’t see anything controversial,” Said Stumbo. “I don’t see anything necessarily that the General Assembly would take issue with, right off the top of my head. It does require some legislative approval.”

Stumbo says lawmakers should be able to address the deficit fairly quickly once the special session convenes June 15th. Senate President David Williams agrees and wants to limit the session to five days. 

Video slots will NOT be on the call, but may be added later.

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Local News

Veto Recess Begins In Frankfort

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly is in a two-week recess to give Governor Steve Beshear time to consider possible vetoes.

Lawmakers return on March 26, and the session ends on the 27th. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo is already predicting a special session may be necessary in June to address budget concerns. If so, he hopes lawmakers will pass his video slots bill, which he says could raise hundreds of millions of new tax dollars for the state.

But even if there is a special session, Senate President David Williams doubts Stumbo’s bill will fly.

“We have at least one additional vote in the Senate now, on the Democratic side that’s not going to vote for any expansion of gaming. And that makes the numbers, as small as our membership is – one or two or three votes make a difference,” Williams said.

Only Governor Beshear can call a special session, if he and lawmakers agree one is needed.

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Local News

Stumbo Files Video Lottery Terminals Legislation

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

As promised, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has filed legislation calling for video lottery terminals at the state’s horse tracks. The Kentucky Lottery would license and oversee the gambling devices.

Stumbo says VLT proceeds would be used to support primary education throughout the commonwealth and reduce taxes.

“I think it’s time we gave middle income Kentuckians and all Kentuckians in these hard times a bit of a tax break, with the automobile tax and the property tax. I think it’s past time that we helped our counties,” says Stumbo.

Stumbo predicts the games could generate as much as 700-million dollars a year for the state. He does not believe a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling is necessary because gambling is already permitted at the horse tracks.

Senate President David Williams opposes the bill.