Legislative expenses can give leaders heartburn

06/06/2014 11:52 AM

Senate President Robert Stivers said he expects changes to the approval of lawmakers’ expenses once recommendations come back later this summer outlining how other states and organizations handle them.

The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus reported on the last year’s worth of expenses for legislators. And atop the list was Rep. W. Keith Hall, a Democrat from Phelps who is not in House leadership.

“I have a very difficult time understanding how a House member who is not in leadership winds up with more expenses than either of the two leaders of the respective chambers,” Stivers said (2:15).

The leader of each chamber — the Senate president and House speaker — are responsible for approving expenses. Stivers said that’s why he put into the budget a provision to call for a study of other state legislature’s expense approval process.

“I think it would be better so we don’t run into the problems that you have seen with Keith Hall having $10,000 in expenses than either Greg or myself had,” Stivers said (3:45).

Stivers said he denies roughly 10 percent of what senators request, particularly ahead of time with requests to attend events or conferences.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said legislators are expected to be truthful when they mark down mileage because legislative leaders don’t have any mechanism to track whether individual lawmakers are driving to and from the places they say they are. They just know when legislators show up and sign in to meetings.

Hall, meanwhile, won’t be returning to the General Assembly in January. He lost re-election in the May 20 Democratic primary in the 93rd District to Pike County Magistrate Chris Harris in one of the toughest races in Kentucky.

Stumbo, who himself defeated an incumbent to first win a House seat 35 years ago, said Harris won’t have any problems with the Democratic caucus when he arrives in January.


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