GOP lawmakers reject Beshear's executive order creating health exchange as Democrats walk out

09/19/2012 05:00 PM

UPDATED — Republican House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday voted to call Gov. Steve Beshear out of bounds for his executive order creating a health exchange — an outgrowth of the U.S. Affordable Care Act.

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, offered a motion at the interim legislative health and welfare committee declaring that Beshear does not have the authority to create a new agency — in this case, the Kentucky Health Exchange — by executive order. Instead, the governor by law can only rearrange existing agencies and still must get the legislature’s ultimate approval, Givens said, citing state statute .

The move caught Beshear’s fellow Democrats off guard. And after raising their objections, most of them walked out the meeting, which was held at Kaleidoscope, a young adult day health center in Louisville.

Democrats fired back that the governor was merely following federal law and the legislature should take this up when it reconvenes in January.

“This is the law now, and it was upheld by one of your guys. Not by ours. One of your guys stabbed you in the back,” said Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, referring to Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. “I say the governor can pass an executive order anytime he wants to. And it comes back to the next session to see whether it’s legal or not what he’s done.”

Legislators had hoped the meeting would yield answers from officials from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services about the future costs and operations of the Health Benefit Exchange. Officials couldn’t answer many of those questions in their meeting last month.

The exchange is the entity that will match up uninsured Kentuckians with private health insurance. It will specifically serve those who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have insurance through their jobs.

Other Democrats, like Lexington Rep. Kelly Flood, also harshly criticized the motion by Republicans. Flood called it a charade before walking out.

But Paducah Republican Rep. Brent Housman, who is not running for re-election this year, said Democrats’ protests about having this sprung on them were a bit hollow because he said that’s the way Democratic leaders run that chamber.

Democratic Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty — who is not a member of the committee — was the only Democrat to stay the rest of the meeting, which was held at a health facility in Louisville, said it was not the right place to raise the issue.

He predicted this dispute between two branches of government eventually would land in front of the third branch: the courts.

“The real forum for this, if it doesn’t happen the way you hope it will, is in a court of law,” Stacy said.

After the Democrats left the meeting, the Republicans remaining on the committee voted by voice vote to report the findings within KRS 12.028 , the which relates to reorganization, to the LRC and to the Governor.

This represents the first time a legislative committee in Kentucky has taken a vote on any piece of the Affordable Care Act.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm joined cn|2 in December 2011 as a reporter for Pure Politics. Throughout his career, Nick has covered several big political stories up close, including interviewing President Barack Obama on the campaign trail back in 2008. Nick says he loves being at the forefront of Kentucky politics and working with the brightest journalists in the commonwealth. Follow Nick on Twitter @Nick_Storm. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



  • Scott Hofstra wrote on September 20, 2012 09:56 AM :

    I’d like to know who the Democrats were who walked out? This is exactly why Frankfort is so disfunctional. When one of the parties doesn’t like something, they simply throw a four year old temper tantrum and leave. Make no mistake, these men and women ASK us to send them to Frankfort. They weren’t FORCED to go there. We send them to do a job. We expect them to act like adults and statesmen. As far as I’m concerned, any state legislator who walks out of a committee meeting because they don’t want to address the issues, needs to be recalled immediately! Nobody said the job would be easy but we expect our legislators to do that job. So, back to the question, who were these legislators? I’d like to write them and express my dissatisfaction with their decision yesterday.

  • Ed Marksberry wrote on September 20, 2012 01:09 PM :

    I know how the Republican leadership feels about this; I can remember how I felt as a child when my mother explained to me that I needed to give some of my toys to other children whose parents couldn’t afford them. She explained that I had accumulated more toys than my toy box could hold and that it is not good not to share with others. I found it to be a great lesson to help out those in need and I instilled this same philosophy with my children around Christmas time. The only difference between me and the Republican leadership is that I was a child at the time acting like an adult and they are adults acting like a child.

  • Cat Balz wrote on September 20, 2012 06:12 PM :

    Ed, my friend, about your story. As Reagan used to say, there’s a pony in there somewhere.

  • Ed's Big Brother wrote on September 20, 2012 07:08 PM :

    Hey Ed, last time I checked, our state was broke. Your analogy here doesn’t work because we have no money. Since you have such a big heart, donate to a charity or church. The last time our state tried to run our healthcare in 1993, it ended up shutting down because it was bleeding millions of dollars. But you probably don’t remember that, right?

  • Ed Marksberry wrote on September 21, 2012 11:51 AM :

    Mr. Cat Balz, to add to the story, I was not happy about the idea of sharing my toys, in fact I was mad at first, so I gathered all my cars and trucks and gave them to the younger kid who kept wanting to play with them. It was my first recollection of letting go of something that meant something to me while not understanding or agreeing to situation. I can distinctly remember a moment of relief when I handed over my collection. My point is, I know how the Republicans feel right now, but you will get over it once you accept it, my friend, trust me.
    Mr. Big Brother, you make a fine point and maybe we should just let the Feds take over the management of the Exchange with all the obstruction and bickering coming from the Republican leadership, but then we have no control over how to dispense the coverage and payments to the providers and I don’t think you want that. The exchange is a monumental moment to work together to insure everyone has the access to affordable healthcare coverage. You see, I am one of those who have been denied coverage because of a minor preexisting condition. We have thousands of fellow citizens who need access to affordable health care coverage and that is what the Exchange is, a place that guarantees access at affordable prices. Who knows, maybe you will benefit as well from it now or in the future. No one in their right mind would say, “no, I don’t want my fellow citizens the opportunity to affordable health care coverage” and that is what the Republican leadership is saying.

  • Cat Balz wrote on September 21, 2012 01:46 PM :

    Mr. Ed, thanks for the addition to your story line. It reminded me of letting go of my first wife, especially the relief part. My advice is, keep digging because there still might be a pony in there somewhere. And thanks for calling me Mister. Mister Cat Balz has a nice ring to it.

  • waybert17 wrote on September 24, 2012 02:57 AM :

    So ED, clearly, in your tale, your mother represents Big Government, forcing you to do something that you really didn’t want to do. Personally, I’ve always thought that one should be a cheerful giver…or not a giver at all if your going to complain about it. It’s not really “giving,” after all, not to mention the lack of freedom and free choice, if you are being forced to give by your mother…or Big Government.

  • Scott Hofstra wrote on September 28, 2012 11:05 AM :

    I’d still like to know who the democrats were who walked out. I like to send them each a letter expressing my disappointment in their lack of spine and leadership.

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