Hoover looking to thwart "shenanigans," expel GOP bills from committees through discharge petitions

03/10/2015 10:35 AM

FRANKFORT — As lawmakers rush to advance bills before adjourning for a 10-day veto recess, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover is trying to force to the floor 13 GOP priority bills that have stalled in their respective committees.

Hoover filed six discharge petitions Wednesday and seven more Monday on legislation that would create medical review panels to pre-screen malpractice suits, ban abortions beyond 20 weeks of fetal development, nullify federal gun-control laws, create a drug-testing program for recipients of public benefits and more.

The petitions, which require 25 signatures, have become more common in recent sessions albeit unsuccessful. The petitions will require 51 affirmative votes, and even then the bills would be sent to the Rules Committee, not the House floor for a vote.

Still, Hoover said his caucus’ legislative priorities deserve to be heard, likening the lack of movement in Republican bills to House Democrats assigning freshman GOP representatives only one committee each this session.

He’s confident most of the bills would clear the chamber if given an up-or-down vote, and he accused House Democrats of ducking consideration of the six discharge petitions he filed initially by immediately recessing after voting out bills. Discharge petitions are typically heard the day after filing, according to House rules.

“This is just more of the same type of shenanigans that, unfortunately, we’ve come to expect from this speaker and this Democratic leadership,” Hoover, R-Jamestown, said in an interview with Pure Politics late Monday.

“… When legislation is filed, the people who file that legislation are doing it for some reason, whether it’s a constituent or a group of constituents or it’s an idea, and they should have the right to be heard just as other legislators are heard. It shouldn’t be limited to just the majority party.”

Of the 13 discharge petitions he filed, nine are for House bills and four are for Senate bills that have yet to receive a committee hearing. Since Hoover submitted the signatures, some of the bills in question have been posted for consideration in their respective panels.

Two of the bills attempt to ignore federal gun-control laws that may come in the future, which would run counter to the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause that sets federal law as the supreme law of the country.

Hoover said the pair of bills may have some issues, but those could have been smoothed out in committee hearings.

“It should not be left to the whim of the speaker or two or three other members of Democrat leadership to say, ‘We’re not going to discuss that,’” he said when asked about constitutional issues in House Bill 13 and House Bill 120. “That should be part the committee process, as should all of these bills.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo dismissed Hoover’s discharge petitions as a “political stunt,” adding that the bills stand no chance of receiving their three required readings for a floor vote before the veto recess.

He noted some of his bills, such as the $3.3 billion bonding proposal for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System in House Bill 4, had to churn through the legislative process once they reached the Senate.

“I like everyone must play by the rules and go through the committee system,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said in a statement to Pure Politics.

Bills for which Hoover filed discharge petitions

  • Senate Bill 2, a constitutional amendment would give the General Assembly greater authority in the implementation of administrative regulations.
  • SB 4, which would mandate face-to-face consultation with a physician before women can receive an abortion.
  • SB 6, which would create medical review panels before malpractice suits can advance in court.
  • SB 71, which would protect religious and political expression in public schools.
  • HB 13, which would nullify federal laws and regulations restricting gun possession and ownership.
  • HB 31, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit lawmakers from earning pay if they must pass a budget in special session.
  • HB 119, which would prohibit administrative regulations that cost more than $500,000 from being implemented until the General Assembly enacts legislation ratifying the regulations.
  • HB 120, which would prevent the enforcement of federal acts that violate the Second Amendment.
  • HB 220, which would exempt some equine farming materials from the state’s sales and use taxes.
  • HB 237, which would require drug screening for public benefits recipients.
  • HB 238, which would require photo identification for welfare recipients.
  • HB 265, which would allow high school juniors and seniors to use Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship funds on dual-credit, career or technical courses.
  • HB 393, which would prohibit abortions past 20 weeks of fetal development except in cases of emergency.
Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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