Jeff Hoover picked as next House speaker during Republicans' first caucus meeting since 17-seat swing

11/10/2016 04:55 PM

FRANKFORT — House Republicans named Jeff Hoover, who has served as the caucus’ minority floor leader since 2001, the next speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives during a two-and-a-half-hour meeting in the Capitol Annex Thursday.

Hoover, R-Jamestown, is the first GOP speaker since Joseph Bosworth, of Bell County, held the gavel in 1921. Republicans will take a 64-36 supermajority into the lower chamber when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 3.

He called Thursday’s caucus vote “the highest honor of my life.” His ascent to House speaker was one of two goals he set after becoming minority floor leader, with the first — reclaiming a majority in the House — accomplished after Tuesday’s elections.

Hoover, who was elected unanimously and without opposition, promised to work with Democrats in the minority, saying now isn’t “the time to gloat” or “be prideful” or “be arrogant because we have to govern.”

“I want to include all 100 members because I’ve been in the minority for 20 years, been the minority leader for 16, and I can tell you that just because you’re in the minority doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas and you can’t contribute because many, many, many times we had ideas and wanted to contribute,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“Sometimes we could and sometimes we were shut out, and I hope to include all 100 members. If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea whether it’s a Republican or Democrat.”

On that front, expect some rule changes under Hoover’s leadership.

One of the Republicans’ consistent complaints came in moments when Democrats swiftly passed amended versions of bills in committee and voted on them hours later on the floor.

“There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to vote on legislation, whether it’s in committee or out on the House floor when you’ve not had a chance to review it, you’ve not had a chance to read it,” he said, noting that House Republican leaders have been working on new rules for the chamber for two to three months.

“That practice has to stop, and so we’re going to have some ideas from a process and procedure standpoint that we will be putting forth as we get closer to Jan. 3.”

Hoover said that Republicans will select their full slate of leaders, which includes speaker pro tem, majority floor leader, majority caucus chair and majority whip, during a Nov. 30 retreat. They will also discuss organization and legislative priorities at that time, he said.

In the meantime, Hoover will have to handle the newfound popularity that comes with majority control.

With the speaker’s gavel comes a slew of full- and part-time jobs, and lobbyists haven’t wasted time in cozying up to the future leader of the lower chamber.

“From 10 p.m. Tuesday night to about 10 a.m. today, I had 317 text messages, so if that’s any indication,” Hoover said. “But look, I’d like to think I’ve had a good relationship with everyone here, with the press, with the lobbyists, with members of the other party, and I’m going to continue that.”

He also said Thursday that he received a supportive text message from outgoing House Speaker Greg Stumbo offering to help in any way he could in the transition.


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