Fuzzy feelings of bipartisanship in the air for Ky. Chamber dinner

01/09/2015 12:04 AM

LEXINGTON — The 1,300 business leaders, advocates and legislators attending Thursday’s Kentucky Chamber of Commerce dinner got a third helping of the “new day” amongst state legislative leaders and the governor.

With the ghost of former Senate President David Williams of Burkesville still haunting the evening state leaders reminisced over the work they started in the 2013 short session and the still-new attitude of bipartisanship in divided government.

There were the normal hits and misses from the podium as state leaders brushed off their best lines and poked fun at one another, but the song remained the same at the dinner — work can and will be done in this 30-day session.

As state leaders have indicated this week there are multiple issues where there is overlap amongst the parties in this short session including: a bill to curb heroin abuse, public private partnerships for transportation projects, domestic violence protections for dating partners and for some leaders a local option sales taxing scheme.

In his final Chamber Day as governor Steve Beshear said that was the good news is the multiple areas of overlap in bills which need to be accomplished.

“I feel good about this session and I’m confident about its success,” Beshear said. “I’m confident because we have figured out how to make divided government in Kentucky work.”

“I believe that his session collaborative leadership will prevail once again and it has to – it needs to.”

With multiple areas of agreement leaders sounded hopeful for the chances of key bills this session and all leaders vowed to pass a heroin bill before they leave — something they left unfinished in the 2014 session.

It was Sen. President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who took the evening to an unexpected and serious place calling for legislative leaders to re-open the state budget to fund cancer research.

Stivers, who lost his mother and father and a brother-in law to cancers, said his sister had recently been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Saying the legislature made a mistake by not funding a cancer research facility at the University of Kentucky Stivers made the pitch to “find the dollars to help our flagship university to create a research facility.”

In his speech Stivers acknowledged the “slippery-slope” of opening the budget in a non-budget session, something House Appropriations and Revenue committee chair Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, concurred would give him pause — though he said it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

“I’m cautious about opening up the budget in non-budget years simply because we hashed that out last year in conference, but we’ll take a look at it and see — we may be able to do it,” Rand said after the speech.

For more highlights and one-liners from the dinner watch Pure Politics Friday at 7pm Eastern on Time Warner Cable channel 2.


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