Budget debate on House floor turns into 2014 election preview

03/13/2014 08:48 PM

State House Democrats dug into the chamber’s rule book Thursday to avoid votes on Republican-introduced budget amendments related to the Affordable Care Act and the attorney general’s decision not to appeal a same-sex marriage amendment.

Those are among the issues Republicans plan to campaign on this year as they try to pick off enough Democratic seats to take over the chamber, which Democrats control 54-46. Adam Beam of the Associated Press first forecasted the GOP strategy.

But because Democrats still do control the chamber they deflected the attempts with a bit of procedural wizardry. The rolled the $20 billion two-year spending bill into an amendment, itself. Therefore House Speaker Greg Stumbo was able to rule the other 13 amendments out of order because they were attached to the original bill.

Republican Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, still tried to apply one of his health care related amendments, which would defund the Medicaid expansion and health benefits exchange that Gov. Steve Beshear implemented by executive order last year as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

But that amendment was filed less than the required 24 hours before the vote. So that required a separate vote in order to suspend those House rules to allow it. It failed to get the necessary 51 votes, falling 46 (all Republicans) to 25. Twenty-nine Democrats didn’t vote. Many of them are facing contested races this fall and, as a result of not voting, aren’t on record regarding this Affordable-Care-Act-related issue.

A similar vote came up on an amendment offered by Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, that would require the attorney general’s office to pay the costs incurred by the governor for hiring an Ashland lawfirm to represent him as he carries on with an appeal on the same-sex marriage ruling. Beshear hired VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards and McCann to handle the appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same sex marriages granted in other states.

That vote also fell short, 46-10. This time 44 Democrats abstained.

This political maneuvering went on for more than three hours Thursday. So here’s all you need to know from that three-hour debate in three minutes:

Ultimately the House passed the budget 53-46 with Republican Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah and Rep. Jim Stewart of Flat Lick voting for the bill.

- With reporting and video by Nick Storm

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