Senate and House Majority Floor Leaders Thayer and Shell share thoughts on 2017 session

01/04/2017 02:08 PM

FRANKFORT — Republican Majority Floor Leaders Rep. Jonathan Shell and Sen. Damon Thayer will control the floodgates of legislation heading to the floor of their respective chambers over the 30-day session, and the two have been in constant contact leading up to the first days of the session.

Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Shell, R-Lancaster, sat down for their first joint interview in December with Pure Politics before the start of the legislative session to speak about their thoughts on working together and the flow of legislation.

Both legislators said they will be continually speaking with members of their caucuses in both chambers to decide which bills are heard and which are left behind. Both sides have similar priority lists heading into this first session of GOP control, but where bills start is of little concern this year.

“Isn’t it a great problem to have now, as House Republicans and Senate Republicans, that those are the conversations that are going to be had in Frankfort now,” Shell said. “That what good business bill is going to get passed or who is going to pass the good business bill.”

Thayer too, said the Senate is less concerned about pride of authorship and more concerned with the end result.

“By the end of the session when we adjourn sine die we want a bunch of these good pro-business pro-family bills on the desk of Gov. Bevin for his signature,” Thayer said.

In conversations back and forth with Thayer, Shell said that their conversations have been focused more on the business and jobs related bills and less on where the individual pieces will begin.

Tort Reform

The GOP controlled Senate has passed legislation in recent years to open up discussions on tort reform. In previous sessions the bill has been centered on medical review panels, but there have been discussions about going further.

A full scale tort reform measure could mean opening up the Constitution and putting the change on the ballot for all Kentuckians to decide, which would not be possible until the next statewide election.

Because of that complication to changing the Constitution, Thayer predicted the Republican legislature will focus more toward the statutory changes on tort reform measures and leave “those type of issues” regarding Constitutional changes until the 2018, 60-day session.

Sine Die Headlines

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” that’s the headline Shell and Thayer want to see if they were writing their own headlines recapping the session on the last day of March when the 30-day session draws to a close.

To earn that headline, Thayer said it would take passing right-to-work, repealing the prevailing wage, some type of tort reform measure, and opening up school choice to send a message to the business community that “Kentucky is open for business.”

Watch the interview with Shell and Thayer in the video below.


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