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Frankfort Local News

Williams Says He Had “No Idea” About Farmer’s Alleged Misdeeds

Kentucky Senate President David Williams says he had no idea what trouble his former gubernatorial running mate Richie Farmer was causing as agriculture commissioner.

During an interview on Kentucky Sports Radio Wednesday, host Matt Jones asked Williams about the abuses of power and resources that were uncovered in a recent audit of Farmer’s time in office.

“Absolutely not. Are you kidding me? No, absolutely not,” said Williams. “As a matter of fact, at the time I asked him to join me on the ticket he was the most popular political figure in the commonwealth of Kentucky and that’s why you pick running mates, because they’re very popular.”

The audit was ordered by current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Various accusations of misdeeds dogged Farmer for much of last year’s campaign, but the audit put more evidence behind the allegations.

Farmer has stayed out of the public eye since leaving office in January. This is the first time Williams has commented on the audit. He also said he encouraged current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer to request an investigation of Farmer’s time in office.

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Frankfort Local News

Senate Committee Restores Vetoed Projects In Road Funding Bill

A Kentucky Senate committee’s amendment to the state transportation budget could take the special session off course.

Lawmakers are in special session in part to pass a funding mechanism for the state road plan. But Senate President David Williams declined to take up the issue until Governor Steve Beshear acted on the unfunded road plan that passed previously. Beshear did so this week, issuing line item vetoes that make projects in Williams’s district a lower priority for the state.

Today, senate budget chairman Bob Leeper introduced an amendment that would in effect reverse the vetoes. But Leeper says he’ll drop the amendment it if the House doesn’t agree to it. And his chamber won’t stay in session to override any more vetoes.

“There’s no need for that. The governor has the authority to do it and he’s done it before. I see no reason for us to stay in for this amendment,” Leeper says.

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Frankfort Local News

Road Plan Vetoes Won’t Delay Special Session, Williams Says

Kentucky Senate President David Williams says Governor Steve Beshear’s latest action on the state road plan will not lead to an extended special session.

Governor Steve Beshear has changed the two-year road plan to give projects in Williams’s district a lower priority. Those were the only modifications the governor made.

Williams had promised not to consider a bill to fund the road plan until Beshear acted on the unfunded measure. Despite his displeasure with Beshear’s move, Williams says the Senate will approve a funding bill and should adjourn the special session within five days.

“It’s an extremely partisan and vindictive move by the governor. I’ve learned to expect that of him and it challenges my capacity to be able to forgive. And I do forgive the governor for what’s he’s done to the people of my district and hope they can forgive him,” Williams says.

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Frankfort Local News

Beshear Signs Road Plan, Vetoes Projects in Williams’s District

Governor Steve Beshear signed Kentucky’s six-year road plan this afternoon and vetoed several projects in the state’s two-year road plan.

According to a release from Beshear’s office, the line item vetoes in the two-year plan are only in Senate President David Williams’s district. This comes on the heels of a public feud between the two politicians, with both accusing the other of political posturing.

The governor’s office further says the vetoes were necessary because Williams moved his projects to the front of the line.  Beshear says the vetoes weren’t politically motivated and do not remove any projects from the plan, but rather make some of the projects in Williams’s district a lower priority, in the interest of fairness to other districts. 

“Senator Williams has essentially moved all his district’s road projects to the front of the line, forcing other projects that the Transportation Cabinet and other legislators considered high-priority to wait until additional funding becomes available. It’s unfair to the citizens, and it’s unfair to the rest of the lawmakers whose districts will suffer,” he says.

Lawmakers are in special session to consider a funding mechanism for the road plans and a bill cracking down on prescription drug abuse. Williams has pledged to withhold action on the two bills until Beshear acted on the unfunded road plans. Now, with the plan approved, Beshear says the General Assembly should be able to finish the special session by Friday.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Grayson: Beshear and Williams Are Embarrassing Kentucky

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson criticized both Governor Steve Beshear and state Senate President David Williams, saying their ongoing rivalry is embarrassing the commonwealth.

“It’s a continuation of the last several years of the governor not being able to develop strong positive relationships with not just the Republican-controlled Senate, but also the Democratic-controlled House,” says Grayson. “And there’s a huge trust deficit and the temper tantrums that were thrown that night only make things worse.”

Check it out. From CN2 Pure Politics:

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Frankfort Local News

Williams Again Asks Beshear to Act on Road Plan

Kentucky Senate President David Williams is renewing his call for Governor Steve Beshear to act quickly on an unfunded road plan that cleared the legislature last week.

The road plan outlines the state’s transportation projects for the coming years. Beshear called lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session after they failed to approve funding for the latest plan. The Senate gaveled in the first day of the special session Monday afternoon, introducing four bills. The bills include: funding for the road plan; a new road plan in case Beshear vetoes the current one; a change to legislative pay; and a measure that cracks down on prescription pill abuse.

The House has introduced only two bills—the road plan funding and the pill bill.

In a floor speech on the Senate’s first day, Williams once again called on Beshear to either veto or sign the unfunded road plan so the legislature may react and adjourn by Friday.

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Frankfort Local News

Beshear, Williams Rivalry Could Influence November Legislative Elections

Kentucky lawmakers will begin a special session today that could become election fodder for legislative candidates on both sides of the aisle this fall.

This is the seventh straight year lawmakers have gone into special session, which costs the state sixty thousand dollars a day to fund. And Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams are locked in a stalemate over the state’s road plan template.

Williams wants Beshear to sign the template before his chamber passes the funding bill to go with it. This also would force lawmakers to be in special session at least seven days, instead of the minimum of five.

Beshear says he won’t sign the template until he’s reviewed it and has threatened to hit the campaign trail again if Williams delays.

“The Senate can stay here as long as it wants, but I can tell you this, if they stay here longer than the minimum amount of days just in order to put money in their pockets or to play political games, the people of this state this fall when elections roll around I think will let them know just how the feel about that,” Beshear says.

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Frankfort Local News

Williams Says Beshear Needs to ‘Tone Down’ Rhetoric

Republican Senate President David Williams says Democratic Governor Steve Beshear needs to tone down his rhetoric over the upcoming special session.

The two men butted heads yesterday when the Senate didn’t pass two of the session’s critical bills. The Senate adjourned, effectively killing a bill that funded the state’s road plan and one that would place further limitations on prescription drugs.

In his call for the special session, Beshear personally blamed Williams for blocking the bills, and at other times called him greedy and selfish.

Williams responded today by saying the governor is out of line.

“The governor has to calm down a little bit. These sort of personal and vitriolic statements that he continues to make out to me, my wife is here today, we have two small children, and he’s actually putting us at risk if he continues to make these hateful and vitriolic statements he’s making,” Williams says.

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Frankfort Local News

Beshear Continues to Blame Williams Over Deadlock

A blame game over important legislation leftover in the 2012 General Assembly is turning into a repeat of last year’s gubernatorial election.

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams are arguing over who is to blame for state lawmakers adjourning their regular session without passing key bills. A bill to crack down on Kentucky’s prescription drug abuse died in the final minutes of the session, and even though lawmakers passed a road plan, they neglected to pass the bill that funds the projects.

In announcing his call for a special session to deal with those two issues, Beshear had a litany of names for Williams. He called the Senate President selfish and greedy for not allowing the Senate to finish its work.

“He still thinks that it’s acceptable to push the state’s business to the 11thhour. To hold bills according to his personal whim and then when reasonable people don’t acquiesce to his wishes, to throw a temper tantrum and go home,” Beshear says.

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Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Reach Early Morning Budget Compromise

After a night of discussions, Kentucky lawmakers have finally reached a budget agreement.

Negotiations on a budget compromise began Monday. By Tuesday, talks had stalled. Lawmakers were unable to work out differences over funding school construction, paying for indigent care at University Hospital in Louisville and reducing bonded debt. House and Senate leaders resolved their differences shortly before 3 am today. The compromise includes the House’s planned funding for school construction and U of L Hospital. It also cuts the state’s bonded debt, which was a Senate priority.

And at the last minute, lawmakers decided to put $2.5 million toward renovations to Rupp Arena in Lexington.

“We would make an offering to Lexington on a 50-50 match, we would make $1.25 million available each year to be matched for Rupp Arena,” says House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Also at the last minute, funding was restored for the Kentucky Horse Park.

“To give the governor authorization for $3.5 million out of restricted funds he has in the governor’s office for the horse park,” says Senate President David Williams.

The revised budget must now be formally rewritten and printed for lawmakers to view. It will be done in time for both chambers to pass the budget early Friday morning and then adjourn. By passing a budget this week, lawmakers will save time to override gubernatorial vetoes next month.