Lawmakers return for 6th day to try to pass road plan

05/29/2010 08:55 AM

House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, left, tells lawmakers late Friday they will have to return for a sixth day of the special session to pass a road plan.

FRANKFORT — Back-room negotiations over Kentucky’s road construction plan continued over night and into the wee hours Saturday as legislative leaders tried to work out what they described were “complicated” problems.

House and Senate leaders asked their colleagues to come back Saturday at 2 p.m. in hopes that they could quickly pass the road bill and adjourn what leaders hoped would be a five-day special session in six days. It costs the taxpayers $63,000 for each of those days in session.

“We think it’s worthy and quite worthwhile for taxpayers all across the Kentucky than it would to see a shut-down in the Transportation Cabinet,” said Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat at the House majority floor leader.

At about 11:40 p.m., Rep. Sannie Overly, a Paris Democrat and chairman of the House panel on transportation funding, entered Senate President David Williams’ Capitol office with a delegation including House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Mike Hancock, acting secretary of the Transportation Cabinet.

Both Stumbo and Williams said in separate interviews with cn|2 Politics late Friday that the lawmakers aren’t drastically changing policies in their negotiations. Instead, they claimed they were working out a host of technical issues about funding sources for projects, and checking lists and counter-proposals to make sure all of the priority road construction projects are included.

“It’s complicated,” Stumbo said, when asked about the process.

“It got to be a complicated process,” Williams said 20 minutes later. “It’s difficult, and it’s very time-consuming.”

“Right now there’s no new information here,” he added. “All the meetings (Friday) are trying to establish a process in which we can get our arms around the disparity in all the lists, the misconceptions people have and the misinformation that’s been spread and there are always the mistakes made by every side.”

This was the first time in more than a decade that the Senate worked on a road plan without Dan Kelly, the former Republican floor leader, whom Gov. Steve Beshear appointed to a judgeship last fall. Kelly was perhaps the Senate’s leading expert on road funding.

Leaders carried on negotiations Friday through just a small group, including Adkins, Stumbo, Overly, Williams, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Ernie Harris, Hancock and a select group of staff.

Among those not invited were House Republicans, which GOP Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown Republican, called “very frustrating.”

“I’m going to ask Democratic leadership to get a briefing from staff on what is contained on there and give us some time to review it,” Hoover said. “We want a road plan. We want something to come out of here. If we’re given time to look at, study it and consider it, then I think we’d be inclined to vote for it. But if not, we may be inclined to vote against it.”

- Ryan Alessi


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