House names Yonts state government chair, reduces proportion of Republicans on budget panel

01/11/2013 09:38 AM

House Democratic leaders unveiled committee assignments that shuffled around four chairmanships — with two new committee chairs and two budget panel chairs. Three of those four taking new posts come from Eastern Kentucky, which continues that region’s strong representation in leadership.

But the new committee assignments slashed Republicans’ representation on the powerful Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Republicans had 12 members on that committee compared to 17 Democrats in 2012. Starting in this session, Republicans will keep 12 seats but Democrats will have 19.

Rep. Bam Carney, the new House Republican whip, said before the official announcement of the assignments that he believed Democrats and Republicans had worked well during the committee assignment process but said he didn’t know what the final membership list would look like.

Meanwhile, Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, will take the helm of the state government committee, which will handle one of the biggest issues of the session: reforms to Kentucky’s public pension system. Yonts replaces Mike Cherry, who retired.

Yonts said pension groups already have come to see him. (Note: Yonts will be on Pure Politics Monday.)

The Democratic leaders also filled two open budget subcommittee chairmanships with Eastern Kentucky lawmakers.

The panel that covers budget issues for general government will go to Rep. John Will Stacy, a former Democratic whip. Stacey replaces Royce Adams of Dry Ridge, who retired.

The subcommittee over transportation spending now will be headed up by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville. She replaces Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, who was elected House Democratic Caucus Chairman on Tuesday.

That means two budget subcommittee chairmanships will go from being held by Central Kentuckians to Eastern Kentuckians. Eastern Kentucky already is home to two of the top leaders of the chamber, House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook.

Combs, in taking the transportation budget panel chairmanship, will give up her chairmanship of the Tourism, Development and Energy Committee. Democratic Rep. Keith Hall, who represents the neighboring district to Combs, will take that committee chairmanship.

Some other key changes:

Health and Welfare Committee
The committee that handles health care policy and abortion-related bills shrunk to 15 members from 16. But Republicans dramatically increased their influence on the panel. The GOP will have seven seats on the committee compared to eight Democrats. In 2012, it had been split 10 Democrats to six Republicans.

Judiciary Committee
The committee that handles the criminal code, justice and prison related bills, added three new members, and it will favor Democrats more than it did in the last General Assembly. Democrats will control the committee with 12-7 seats. It was 9-7 in favor of Democrats.

Education Committee
Democrats increased their representation on this committee as well as it goes to 18 Democrats to 11 Republicans, up from 17-12 last year.


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