Lawmaker pre-files bill eliminate Senate confirmation of Ky. insurance commissioner

05/17/2013 11:17 AM

UPDATED: State Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, pre-filed legislation this week which he says is meant to remove a “poker chip” the Senate has used during negotiations over other bills: the confirmation of the state’s insurance commissioner.

Bill Request 7 would remove the power the Senate has to confirm the governor’s appointment of the commissioner of Insurance Department and the commissioner of the Department of Workers’ Claims. Both positions require re-appointments every four years.

“Last session it was highly rumored the insurance commissioner appointment was held up until (the House) passed Medi-Share,” Greer told Pure Politics in a phone interview. The Medi-Share bill , which was Senate Bill 3, would have exempted religious organizations from the insurance code.

Greer, who owns and operates an insurance business in Bradenburg, chairs the House Banking and Insurance committee. On March 7, Greer’s House committee passed the Medi-Share bill onto the House floor at the same time the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved the confirmation of Sharon Clark as the state’s insurance commissioner.

“It was all used for political purposes,” Greer said of the confirmation hearing.

Employees of the Kentucky Department of Insurance were worried they would lose Clark in the process, Greer said.

While Greer felt confident the legislation could pass the House in 2014, he said he was skeptical the Senate would even hear the bill.

“I’m certain the Senate doesn’t want to give up their great poker chip,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Senate president said if the bill passes the House, the Senate will “give it its due consideration.”

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, the sponsor of the the Medi-Share legislation and chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, told Pure Politics that the bill request leaves a lot unknown.

Buford said Senate leadership would want to meet with the commissioners of those agencies, and the governor to see what their views of the appointment confirmations would be.

If the appointments offer the chance to hold legislation hostage Buford said that is the case with nearly every piece of legislation. And Buford added the bill might be a great way to even out a lot of those fights.

The Senate, Buford said would be willing to take a hard look at the bill, but he suspected there would be plenty of amendments added on. He suggested there could be some trade off giving the Senate power within the budget negotiations to even the playing field.

“This may be the ultimate good government bill or it could create a war,” Buford said.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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