Frustrated lawmakers report to Frankfort, Stumbo ducks for cover amid Beshear vs. Williams squabble

04/16/2012 04:38 PM

The House of Representatives kicked off the 2012 Special Legislative Session Monday afternoon amid frustration among representatives, while House Speaker Greg Stumbo wasn’t exactly relishing the chance to play arbitrator between Governor Steve Beshear and Senate President David Williams.

“Sometimes when you’re not getting shot at it’s better just to stay behind the rock and not stick your head up,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told Pure Politics on how he’s handling the very public war of words between Gov. Beshear and Senator Williams.

Gov. Steve Beshear called lawmakers back to Frankfort to take up two pieces of unfinished legislation from the 60-day special session that ended in gridlock. . Beshear wants lawmakers to pass the transportation project funding bill and a bill aimed at cracking down on prescription pill abuse.

The minimum time for the special session is five days.

The House re-introduced the “pill mill bill” Monday in the original form of House Bill 4 from the regular session. It requires prescribers of certain pain medications run a KASPER monitoring check before they can write a prescription. The return to the original legislation could become a sticking point between the two chambers with a short window to work out the differences.

The House also plans to send the Senate the transportation funding bill that House and Senate leaders agreed to but that stalled in the Senate in the final hours of the regular session on Thursday.

Meanwhile lawmakers in the House Representatives are not happy at having to return to Frankfort for a special session.

Long-time lawmakers said they had hoped special sessions would become a rare occurrence after voters signed off on a constitutional change to allow annual sessions more than a decade ago. Instead, this is the seventh consecutive year the General Assembly has needed a special session and it has mostly served as overtime for lawmakers to finish crucial work that was left undone during the regular session.

“Having a special session just to complete work that should have been done during the context of the original session is really pretty sad,” said Rep. Arnold Simpson a democrat from Covington.

Much of the finger-pointing from Thursday was between Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams.

That left House Democrats in an awkward and frustrating position of standing with the governor of their own party while knowing the they would have to be back negotiating all over again with Williams.

“There’s really no reason for us to be here,” Rep. Bob Damron, the House Democratic caucus chairman from Nicholasville, said about the special session after voicing his frustration with how things went on the last regular legislative day.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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