General Assembly update: Frustration over last-minute changes; smoking ban and hemp uncertainty

02/26/2013 05:16 PM

With action ratcheting up, here’s a quick round-up of the action from this afternoon. (We’ll have more details and video later)

Pension reform mania

A revised pension reform bill passed the House State Government Committee that drops the hybrid “cash balance” plan recommended by the legislative task force on pensions. Republicans objected to getting the new plan 15 minutes before the committee took it up. The measure passed along party lines 17-1 with 10 other Republicans passing.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee is meeting at 5:30 to take up funding for the pensions.

Senate Republican leaders are not happy with the House Democrats’ changes.

Sparks on the House floor

Rep. Jeff Hoover, the Republican Floor Leader from Jamestown, vented at House Democrats in a floor speech Tuesday afternoon complaining that the Democratic majority keeps springing last-minute committee substitutes — such as the pension reform bill earlier in the day.

He also criticized Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, after he read that McKee planned a committee substitute on the hemp bill, SB 50. Hoover said he hoped House Democrats aren’t playing politics with it because Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is the driving force behind that legislation to lay the regulatory groundwork for a hemp industry.

That prompted House Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins to defend McKee. And McKee said he would have a committee substitute to the members of the Agriculture Committee by the end of the day.

Smoking ban’s future uncertain

After another day in which the statewide smoking ban bill didn’t come to the floor, its sponsor, Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, rose to tell her colleagues that she’s asked for it to go to the House Judiciary Committee to vet private property rights issues.

Westrom told Pure Politics that she’s not sure whether enough minds can be changed for it to pass the House this session.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • Bruce Layne wrote on February 27, 2013 01:12 PM :

    Representative Westrom has asked for the statewide smoking ban to go to the House Judiciary Committee to vet private property issues? That sounds like there might be some minor unintended issue related to property rights, when in fact, the entire point of the statewide smoking ban is to prevent property owners and their guests from using a legal product on their own property. The entire bill is a blatant violation of the very notion of private property.

    Property rights are the foundation of liberty. We no longer own our property in the truest sense, as we’re compelled to pay rent to the state and local governments in the form of property taxes. Now statists such as representative Westrom want to use the force of government to prevent people from smoking on their own property – property they purchased with their own money, for which they pay annual property tax tribute. This progressive erosion of property rights ends with us not even owning our own bodies. Fast forward a few decades and we’re all slaves working on the government plantation.

    That’s why we all have a vested interest in preventing this blatant abuse of property rights. I don’t smoke, but I’m adamantly opposed to the smoking ban because I respect property rights. I wish elected officials such as Susan Westrom respected property rights and trusted the free market to supply much more equitable and practical solutions to balance the rights of smokers and nonsmokers alike.

What do you have to say?


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.