Swap meet time: Legislative leaders talking about changing but passing two key bills

03/09/2014 05:36 PM

In a session defined so far by what has yet to get done, the leaders of the majorities in both chambers gave the clearest sign yet on Friday that the communications lines are open to pass some versions of their respective priorities.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, for instance, said the Senate Republicans’ goal in Senate Bill 1 to amend the constitution to allow the legislature year-round oversight and rejection power of executive branch regulations is worthwhile in concept. While Stumbo said it could “bring balance” to the branches of government, Stumbo indicated that he would like to change it so that it’s not a constitutional amendment.

What does Stumbo want to see the Senate take up in exchange? House Bill 1 , of course.

The bill would raise the minimum wage 95 cents per year until it hits $10.10 in July 2016, up from $7.25 now.

Stivers said he thinks that bill does have a path through the Republican-controlled Senate but with some changes to it.

Just because the lines of communication are open on these bills doesn’t guarantee something regarding executive regulation oversight or increasing the minimum wage in Kentucky will pass. The versions that pass the other chamber might end up being too different to gain final approval in the body in which each began.

But the fact that Stumbo and Stivers are in communication about each others’ top priority for the session at least bodes well heading into the negotiation phase of the session as lawmakers try to find common ground on a host of bills, including the state budget.

Stumbo said the budget bill will finally be on the move after seven weeks in the lower chamber. It is expected to come out of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and out of the full House Wednesday.

The House did not move around money to undo the 2.5 percent cuts Gov. Steve Beshear suggested for the public universities and community college system. Here’s what he said about the few changes the House is expected to make.

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