Committee update: Telecomm reforms; even numbered election year bill clears Senate panel

02/11/2015 04:31 PM

FRANKFORT – A Constitutional amendment to bump back the election of the governor and other statewide officers to even numbered years starting in 2024 passed out of a Senate committee with a 7 -2 vote Wednesday.

Currently constitutional elections fall in the year before the presidential elections. Making that change, though, would require an amendment to Kentucky’s constitution.

Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, would, according to McDaniel, save the commonwealth money by having the election during even numbered years when state legislative, congressional, presidential, and U.S. Senate races take place.

“It saves the commonwealth three and a half million dollars every four years and will save counties in excess of $14.2 million,” McDaniel told the committee.

McDaniel who is part of a gubernatorial slate with James Comer in the GOP primary brought the bill last session passing it out of the Senate, before it died in the House.

Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, who was one of two democrats who voted no on the bill, said that he likes the fact that the election is held during the odd numbered years.

“We have to acknowledge that democracy costs something and I think that the idea of us moving a very important gubernatorial race and all those other candidates who run for those constitutional offices that run the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Ridley said. “I think it gives it a little more prestige in the fact that it has its own election.”

Sen. Denise Harper-Angel also voted against the bill.

Senate Majority Floor Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, believes that the time has come to move the election to even number years — in part to attract more voters to the polls.

“You know, we complain about the lack of voter participation in elections and the numbers speak for themselves,” Thayer said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the turnout during our gubernatorial election years and, not only are the numbers significantly lower than they are during a presidential election year, but there even lower than a non-presidential but congressional year.”

The committee also passed Senate Bill 3 with a 9 -1 vote.

The bill, known as the “AT&T bill”, which would allow major phone carriers like AT&T, Cincinnati Bell, and Windstream to end their obligation to provide basic phone service in urban areas. They instead would provide service through a wireless plan, and be required to invest in broadband.

Rural customers could keep their land lines, but the companies would not be required to extend basic service to customers in new build areas.

Advocates say the bill would allow communications companies to investing in rural land invest more in broadband and future technologies, which is what the overwhelming majority of Kentuckians want.

“They want the high speed internet, they want the good connectivity with their cell phones, they want those things,” said Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, the bill’s sponsor.

Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council is fearful that a good number of Kentuckians would lose their land line service.

“If the bill passes, on the effective date of the bill, for communities with over 15,000 housing units, 11,000 or so customers who currently have basic, local standalone service could be told it’s no longer available,” said FitzGerald.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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