Stivers says making military voting bill the Senate's top priority sets the tone for session

01/07/2013 02:16 PM

Republican Sen. Robert Stivers, who will be sworn in as Senate President on Tuesday, said even amid myriad issues that must be addressed, Senate leaders wanted to send a bipartisan message by making its symbolic top priority a proposal made by the Democratic Secretary of State.

Stivers said the symbolic Senate Bill 1 designation will go to a bill that would allow military personnel overseas to send their absentee ballots online and via email. But Stivers added that other issues, such as revamping the chronically underfunded pension system, are of equal importance.

Stivers, of Manchester, said he will sponsor the military online voting bill, which should be completed this week. He said he expects it to go before the Senate Military Affairs Committee and pass it quickly.

Secretary of State Allison Grimes said in September the current snail-mail system causes U.S. military personnel to question whether their votes can get back to Kentucky in time for the election. Grimes, a Democrat, discovered the concern while visiting troops overseas in 2012.

“No matter where the idea comes from — whoever is working on it — if the policy is right we are going to try and implement it,” Stivers said.

However, as Stivers even acknowledged, former Sen. President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said at the same September event Grimes hosted that he intended the bill to get the SB1 position.

Here is former Sen. Williams delivering that statement in September 2012 ( :54 in the video):

Stivers told reporters at Monday’s press conference on the eve of the start of the 30-day legislative session that the labeling of the bill does not devalue that of the need for pension reform. Stivers said a pension bill would be sponsored by Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer, who chaired a legislative task force last year on pension reform. .

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this room that understands the realities of the pension program and the problems we have as well as I do. But this was the ability to say in the process, in the electoral process we should give the men and women the support and their dependents…acknowledgment,” Stivers said.


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