- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Last week, I spoke with our local state legislators, State Rep. Terry Mills and State Sen. Jimmy Higdon.
While both are in the majority party in their respective houses of the Kentucky legislature, neither has established the seniority or the political clout to assume a leadership position just yet, which is to say neither is likely to have tremendous influence on how things shake out at the Capitol between now and the end of March.
My impression is that both would like to see 2011 be a productive session for the legislature, but personally, I have pretty low expectations for the General Assembly.
My expectations for this legislative session are lower than my expectations were for President George W. Bush before he debated Al Gore the first time during the 2000 campaign. They're also lower than my expectations were for this year's Louisville football team.
Both Bush and the football Cardinals did better than I anticipated; yet, I'm having a hard time seeing much, if anything, coming out of the Kentucky legislature this year.
I realize this is a short session of the General Assembly (30 days), so their time is limited already. But the bigger issue that will be looming over every decision made in Frankfort from now until the end of the session is the 2011 election cycle, specifically, the governor's race. Gov. Steve Beshear is seeking re-election, and Senate President David Williams is the front-runner to win the Republican nomination and challenge Beshear in November.
As Higdon pointed out during our talk last week, the governor and the Senate president both have bully pulpits in Frankfort. I'm positive both of them will use that platform to the benefit of their campaigns during the next few months. It would be nice if they also use that platform to benefit the state.
When Beshear ran in 2007, he pushed for expanded gaming. To date, nothing has changed in that regard, and Williams is a big part of that. The Speaker of the House, Greg Stumbo, has already said the issue isn't likely to come up during the next few months.
Williams has demonstrated that he isn't going to allow votes on anything that he personally doesn't support, and its seems that Beshear has been campaigning for almost a year already. I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which Williams puts aside his gubernatorial aspirations to allow any legislation that could be perceived as a victory for Beshear. Likewise, Beshear has more than enough supporters in the legislature to prevent Williams from passing anything that would benefit his campaign.
Many of the issues that should be addressed - including expanded gaming and tax reform - will hopefully be debated leading up to the November election.
In the meantime, I expect a stalemate. Sure a lot of pieces will move around the board, but don't expect Grandmasters Beshear or Williams to surrender anything that matters.
Higdon told me that he hopes politics don't interfere with the Senate's work. Mills said he hopes the gubernatorial campaigns don't become the "ghost in every room."
Sadly, I think both of them may leave Frankfort disappointed when this session is over.