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

02/26/2013 04:16 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.


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