Monday marks anticlimatic day in House after Hoover's hints at "historic" changes

01/11/2016 06:38 PM

FRANKFORT — After teasing a potentially historic day in the state’s House of Representatives during a speech last week, House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover could only watch from his seat as business progressed as usual on a typical Monday in the chamber.

No coups. No defections from disenfranchised Democrats to the GOP caucus. No departures from majority caucus members for higher-paying executive- or judicial-branch jobs.

According to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Hoover made a bit of history by adding another day to his time a Republican leader.

“He again today has built upon his legacy,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said after a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol Annex Monday. “He is the longest serving minority leader in Kentucky’s history.”

Hoover declined to elaborate on exactly what he anticipated when he said at last week’s Kentucky Chamber of Commerce dinner that Monday could have been an historic day, only saying he expected the Democratic majority to fall below 50 members.

Democrats hold a 50-46 majority with four special elections set for March 8 that could help Democrats pad their majority or give the GOP a 50-50 split in the chamber.

“I’ve not talked to anyone today,” Hoover, R-Jamestown, said after a GOP caucus meeting when asked whether he had heard from dissatisfied Democrats on Monday. “Look, what I said Thursday night was this weekend was going to be an interesting weekend, and it was. If nothing else it kept all you guys busy, so I mean it was an interesting weekend, and then I said something could happen that would be historic on Monday.

“People know you’re not going to change the makeup of this body overnight. Something that’s been in place for 100 years, it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a moving process, it’s a fluid process and so we’re just going to continue to move forward. We’re going to continue to try and address some issues. We look forward to March 8. We look forward to the November elections.”

Hoover said he would leave his door open for disgruntled House Democrats as the General Assembly continues its work.

“There’s a lot of dissatisfaction, I understand, on the other side,” he said.

“If folks continue to show unrest and dissatisfaction and they want to have a discussion, we’ll have that discussion,” he continued. “I mean, Denny Butler’s an example, Jim Gooch is an example of two guys that said, ‘We’ve had enough and we’re going a different direction.’ Are there others out there? We’ll see as we move forward.”

He expressed the same sentiment when speaking to reporters on the House floor once the chamber adjourned on Monday, calling his caucus’s quest for power for the first time in nearly a century “a marathon, not a sprint.”

“If those folks still have those same frustrations and dissatisfaction as they have expressed, we’ll continue that discussion,” Hoover said. “But otherwise we’re going to move forward the rest of this session.”

Hoover said met with leaders in the House as recently as Friday on his concerns about committee assignments, adding that he could push for a new set of rules for the chamber if his concerns remain unresolved.

“It is totally unfair,” he said. “It’s against the rules not for us to have proportionate representation on the committees. Tomorrow will be one week that they’ve had an opportunity to fix that problem.”

“If we don’t today, then we’ll see what our options are,” he added.

Stumbo said a Committee on Committees report is ready to file, saying that Democratic leadership “tried to accommodate as many of them as we could” when asked about GOP qualms with committee assignments.

Reporter Don Weber contributed to this report.


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