House Republicans take speaker's gavel, clear path for priority legislation in opening day of 2017 session

01/03/2017 05:43 PM

FRANKFORT — For the first time in nearly a century, a Republican is holding the speaker’s gavel in Kentucky’s House of Representatives.

House Speaker Jeff Hoover was confirmed to the position via acclimation during Tuesday’s opening of the 2017 General Assembly’s 30-day session.

In his opening remarks to the chamber, Hoover said the state faces a number of challenges that need to be resolved and that his focus as speaker will be doing what he can to address them.

He also had a message for lawmakers in both parties: the election season is done. Republicans wrested control of the House from Democrats in the Nov. 8 elections, winning a 64-36 supermajority.

“To those of you in the majority party, those who were a part of making this historic day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky possible, my message is the campaign is now over,” said Hoover, R-Jamestown. “It’s a part of history, and the job before us is now to begin the governing process.

“To those in the minority party, we know full well the position you are in. We’re well aware of the many feelings of uneasiness and the uncertainty that you are experiencing. As your speaker, as the speaker for all Kentuckians, it is my intent to do all that I can do to be responsive and inclusive of every member in the legislative process.”

Republicans wasted little time in putting their priority legislation in motion, giving first readings to House Bill 1, a right-to-work bill; House Bill 2, a pre-abortion ultrasound bill; House Bill 3, legislation to repeal prevailing wage on public works projects; and House Bill 10, which would ratify Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of the University of Louisville’s board of trustees.

All are set for committee hearings on Wednesday.

Hoover said Republicans in the House and Senate are working out kinks in House Bill 10 with UofL placed on at least a yearlong accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but the other priority bills may see action this week once they clear their respective committees.

HB 1 and HB 3 have been assigned to the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee, HB 2 to the House Judiciary Committee and HB 10 to the House State Government Committee.

House Republicans are “very strong about policies that will spur economic growth, make Kentucky attractive to businesses wanting to locate here, and create jobs, and we are firmly convinced that House Bills 1 and 3 will do that,” Hoover told reporters after the House adjourned.

“We have a very strong pro-life caucus,” he said. “As you all know, I’m very strong pro-life, overwhelming majority of our members are, and that’s why House Bill 2 is important to us.”

Tuesday’s first day in the House included a scuffle over adopting rules for the chamber. Democrats complained that no one had seen a copy of the resolution detailing rules for the 2017 session and that Republicans removed a provision allowing lawmakers to retain previous committee assignments.

Their efforts proved futile, though, as House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins’ motion to lay the rules resolution at the clerk’s desk failed on a 33-63 vote. House Resolution 2 ultimately passed on a voice vote.

Bevin, during a House recess after Hoover’s initial speech, says he expects to see great things from Hoover in the speaker’s role.

“I expect him to lead with class,” the governor said. “I expect him to deliver on the promises that he made, that I made, that others who ran made, that people have been making in recent years, which is what has led to this change in the House. The things that we’ve been calling for are the things the people of Kentucky want.”

When asked what would make the session a success in his eyes, he said to “stay tuned” to what the legislature does in the next days and weeks.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, R-Prospect, says he anticipates a more efficient House chamber under Republican guidance.

He was also elected via acclimation in his role as speaker pro tem.

“I want to see us create a professional environment here, one that is worthy of the chamber that we are assuming the role of, and I hope that we are able to address some pro-business legislation that has been neglected for a lot of years,” Osborne said, “and I think that we will and look forward to doing that.”

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 or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.



  • viewer wrote on January 04, 2017 11:25 AM :

    Good morning, friends. I hope everyone rested up last night, after all the self-congratulatory, back-patting. This bunch, with all the new political campaign donations, really knows how to put on a show. Don’t they?

    With Jeff Hoover becoming Speaker of the House, I thought that would be the biggest story of the day. However, there were two stories that rained on his historic triumph.

    The major story of the day, yesterday, was Hal Rogers trying to be sneaky and shut down ethics in Washington. Once that got out, it seems the rest of the country didn’t want to end up like eastern Kentucky, with public corruption and having a leader similar to Hal Rogers, who appears to be untouchable from law enforcement. Uncle Hal seems to be thinking that the public is getting a little too close for comfort. He and his political syndicate need to get the message that we will do everything possible to expose this web that has left his people in such dire consequences.

    The second major story that I didn’t see blowing up was Nate Haney leaving the Bevin administration to go to work for John McCarthy. I am sure that this did not go over the way that John and his team at Strategic Solutions was hoping for. The funny thing was that everyone who was upset were republicans.

    To big Nate: Grab that money with both hands and make a stash. If yesterday’s reaction was anything of what the future holds, you are going to have many eyeballs watching your every move.

    Friends, I have told you for years about how politics works from the inside. State government is big business. Every budget cycle has about $10 billion appropriated. There is another $60 billion of federal money on the line. The RPK is what we call a government clearance house. Most in the RPK hierarchy, if not all, have direct ties to the laws the lawmakers sign off on.

    When there is so much money riding for these people in the clique, like a good magician, they have to get your focus off the fine print, or wherever the trick is being conducted. One of the old rouses is to bring in the church community- the pastors. Talk about God, Jesus, your faith. No Christian has ever been a crook or a criminal. No Christian has ever conned people out of their money. It takes up time. Makes people feel comfortable with you. Yesterday, Damon Thayer introduced Pastor Jeff Fugate, from here in Lexington. That gives Sen. Thayer cred with the Family Foundation crowd.

    Day 1, about 30 resolutions were read. I think I counted 7 from Sen. Ray Jones out of Pike County. This is politicking on state time. It makes the people think Ray cares about the community, but more importantly it distracts from what is going on behind the scenes. Another day in the cycle on the books. Your state senators and representatives working hard for all our benefit.

    Yesterday was hard on the democrats, and it should have been. They don’t have anyone to blame but themselves. Yesterday wasn’t the public having faith in the republican party. Yesterday was a come to Jesus moment, for the years and years of corruption and political cronyism. Every Reagan democrat in the General Assembly needs to understand how this day arrived. What role they played? How their cowardice and turning a blind eye led to how they felt yesterday, and the consequences that will be felt in the Commonwealth going forward for at least the next 2 years.

    I don’t see much coming from this session. It was over before it began, for me. I will be following the Senate this year to see how it is conducted.

    To the moderates out here, democrat and republican. We have to get in here and fight this battle, for the better of the Commonwealth. I will go on and tell you right now. We, republicans, do not have all the answers, nor do we have even close to the right people to achieve better results. So, we need all hands on deck. We need people to help with social media. We need people to follow their state representative and their state senator. Call them out, when need be, but promote them, when they fight the good fight. If your state senator stands up and makes a speech that is worthy, put it on Facebook. Send it out for the voters to see. If your senator stands up and comes up with something off the wall, talks out in la la land, put it on Facebook. The public has no idea what happens in Frankfort. That is how we have arrived at where we are. We have enough good in the General Assembly to hold the center for the next two years, but they have got to be put on notice, if they don’t pull their weight and fight the good fight.

    Yesterday, Rep. Joni Jenkins was talking about mavericks. There are a few mavericks in the General Assembly, but I am afraid that this year is not the year that too many show that side. But, if I am right, the ending of this 2017 session, there will be enough outcry across the Commonwealth that in 2018 you will see a divide with more republicans breaking off and voting with moderate democrats. The viewer.

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