Jan. 5, 2011 — Happy New Year.
Let’s look ahead to the 2011 General Assembly. I avoid predictions (when I get them wrong my smart-aleck friends remind me) but here are some things to watch. Senate Republicans want to pass several bills in the first week while House Democrats seem content with a slower pace. Democrats in both chambers must choose their leaders.
In the Senate where there’s a tight race among Democrats for minority leader. Former Gov. Julian Carroll wants to wage political battle with Senate pres- ident and gubernatorial candidate David Williams. Sen. R.J. Palmer might represent a more conciliatory voice. With Republicans in firm control, the difference will be in tenor not in result. Republicans have a big enough majority to pass what they wish. But Democrats control the House.
Williams insists his agenda is unrelated to his candidacy. He’s previously championed pension reform and last year the Senate voted on a constitutional amendment that would claim a state prerogative to object to federal legislation. But that was for benefit of the base and so is much of this year’s agenda, including immigration and tax reform. Some lawmakers have been asking for action on both for years, but nothing ever happens.
In the House, former Speaker Jody Richards is running against Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark. The talk is Whip John Will Stacy and Caucus Chairman Bob Damron could have challengers. Speaker Greg Stumbo and majority leader Rocky Adkins appear to have no opposition and Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover appears secure. But Republican Caucus Chair Bob DeWeese and Whip David Floyd may face challenges.
Stumbo doesn’t expect the House to live by Williams’ schedule and likely will use the first week for organization of committees. Nor does he sound like the House has an ambitious agenda for the short session. He mentioned raising the drop-out age and maybe some corrections reform but didn’t seem excited about Williams’ bills. He noted with a wry smile that “none of us over here are running for governor.” Gov. Steve Beshear previously announced a limited agenda — though it’s not clear lawmakers were listening.