With unanimous bipartisan support Stivers' plan to shorten legislative calendar moves forward

03/12/2014 03:41 PM

Sen. President Robert Stivers bill to cut the number of legislative working days unanimously cleared a Senate panel Wednesday as Stivers pitched it as a way to persuade more Kentuckians to run for the General Assembly.

With an 11-0 vote and praise from Senate Democrats, Stivers easily advanced his bill that would limit odd numbered sessions to a maximum of 15 working days, down from 30, and 45 days in even numbered years — down from 60 — with ten floating days.

“I think this bill is an example of the bold and creative leadership that you said you would bring to the Senate,” Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville said during the debate in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

McGarvey, who is married and has two young children, said the grind of three months of long days in Frankfort can be a deterrent to potential candidates. That and time away from a lawmaker’s day job is a hardship, he said.

The concept of running out of working days caused some concern among senators, who noted that a governor can call the General Assembly back for a special session. And the legislature wouldn’t be able to come back and override any vetoes from bills passed during special sessions.

Stivers said the current system allows for lawmakers to “manipulate” the calendar in that way. And he said his system would allow lawmakers, themselves, to call the equivalent of a special session using the 10 floating days. Right now, only the governor can call lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session.

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Republican Sen. John Schickel of Union told Pure Politics on Friday that he wasn’t sure that sessions needed to be shorter but that they need to be more productive. However, Schickel did think Stivers’ bill would add to productivity.

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While Stivers’ plans on cutting days House Speaker Greg Stumbo told the Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer last week that he wouldn’t mind extending the calendar.

That’s something that Schickel said he’d be open to as well.

Because the bill is a constitutional amendment, three-fifths of each chamber would have to support the bill and then voters would have a chance to ratify the legislation in November.

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