First vote portends partisan divide over Senate GOP's bill to regulate regulations

01/29/2014 06:20 PM

The Senate Republicans’ top priority of 2014, which is aimed at giving legislators more power to regulate proposed regulations, cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday but with the Democratic senators voting against it.

Senate Bill 1 passed the he Senate State and Local Government Committee 7-4 with the four no votes coming from Democrat members of the panel. It is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the General Assembly to set up a process or a committee that could override regulations even when the legislature was out of session.

“We want to make sure that the primary tenets of our Constitution are provided for, and that being a checks and balances system,” said Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro.

Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer told the committee that it was important that the legislature have the final say with any regulations.

“To use regulations as a substitution for legislation is a violation of the separation of powers,” Comer said. “What we are starting to see now are elected officials going around the Constitution and act unilaterally, and that’s called a dictatorship.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, feels that Senate Bill 1 is needed to ensure that the constitution is being followed.

“We want to have oversight with the way regs are enacted and implemented,” Stivers said.

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, who voted against the bill, is concerned that it would leave a select group of lawmakers with the final say on administrative regulations.

“This process is designed to do, in my opinion, set up a super legislature that would act during the period of time that the legislature is not in session,” Thomas said.

Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, said he didn’t think it was proper that the fate of regulations could rest with a handful of legislators.

“What this would do is take power from both the Judicial Branch and Executive Branch and Legislative Branch and vest it in a handful of legislators,” he said.

Because it is a constitutional amendment, it requires approval of three-fifths of legislators in each chamber and ratification of voters in the fall elections.


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