Beshear endorses Mongiardo in U.S. Senate race

Gov. Steve Beshear sent out a statement this afternoon endorsing his lieutenant governor, Daniel Mongiardo, in next year’s 2010 U.S. Senate race.

The statement comes several weeks after Beshear met with U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, another Democrat has also said he might be interested in entering the race. Many speculate Attorney General Jack Conway, also a Democrat, will announce in the near future that he’ll be entering the race.

The Republican side of the race also appears to be attracting a crowd, with incumbent Jim Bunning insisting he’s going to seek another term, Secretary of State Trey Grayson saying he’ll enter the race if Bunning drops out, and Kentucky Senate President David Williams rumored to be considering a spot on the ballot.

Here’s today’s statement from Beshear –

“Our country and our Commonwealth face unprecedented economic challenges. Now, more than ever, we need strong representatives in Washington D.C. to give voice to Kentucky priorities and values.

“I believe that my Lieutenant Governor, Daniel Mongiardo, can be that voice and I endorse his candidacy for the United States Senate.

“As a doctor, state senator and, now, as Lieutenant Governor, Daniel has been a leader in the push for e-health technology, a priority he shares with President Barack Obama.

“Daniel has worked tirelessly to promote Kentucky through Adventure Tourism, a potential engine of economic growth worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And he has continued to be a strong voice for Kentucky’s role in solving the country’s energy challenges.

“Those concerns and priorities reflect Kentucky values. They also mirror the priorities being articulated by the Obama administration at this defining hour for our country.

“While I will miss the contributions that Daniel has brought to our team, I know he feels called to service in the U.S. Senate and I support his mission.”

Quip of the day

With the House voting to adhere to their rule that the final two days of the session are to be used solely for considering veto overrides, quite a few folks make jokes around the Capitol Thursday about “the rules” and when to suspend them.

Senate President David Williams had the best.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Williams will enter next year’s U.S. Senate race, and Herald-Leader Jack Brammer asked Williams after the Senate had wrapped up for the session whether Williams had set a personal deadline for a decision about his political future.

“Well, I would have to suspend the rules,” Williams said with a laugh. “If I told you I would have to suspend the rules.”

House adjourns, 2009 session ends a day early

With several substantial legislative proposals on the table, the 2009 regular session of the General Assembly ended a day early Thursday and set the stage for the possibility of special session this summer.

The early end came after the House voted to adjourn for the session over the objections of some lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear, who had urged action on an economic development incentives bill and a proposal to create a transportation infrastructure authority.

“The (House Democratic) caucus was of the opinion that this has been a good session,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, said. “There are some issues that are still out there, but nothing that can’t be dealt with at a later date.” Continue reading

Chair of western KY caucus makes pitch to use final two days of session

The chairman of the Western Kentucky Caucus has made an appeal to House and Senate members from the region for the final two days of the session to be used to take up remaining legislation, including House Bill 102 and House Bill 229.

Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson (LRC photo)

Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson (LRC photo)

“I am writing in hopes to gain your support for HB 102, regarding the bridge authority bill, and HB 229, regarding the economic development incentive bill,” Sen. Dorsey Ridley wrote in an e-mail sent today to western Kentucky lawmakers. “Please request House Leadership to allow action to be taken on these pieces of legislation.”

Ridley, a Henderson Democrat, sponsored legislation in the Senate to create a state transportation infrastructure authority similar to what is proposed in House Bill 102. The authority could be used to help finance the Ohio River bridges in Louisville and the bridge at Henderson as part of Interstate 69’s proposed route through the state – both projects with price tags in the billions of dollars.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Monday that the House should stick to its rules by using the final two days of the session on Thursday and Friday solely to override any vetoes by Gov. Steve Beshear. Stumbo said those rules could be suspended, depending upon the will of the House Democratic Caucus, which is scheduled to meet Thursday.

Ridley said both bills are needed to help Kentucky, particularly this end of the state, and should be taken up before the session ends.

“We all need to work together on these issues and the betterment of our state, particularly Western Kentucky,” Ridley said in the e-mail sent to members of his caucus. “I am hoping that by working together these bills will continue the process on Thursday and Friday.”

General Assembly may not take up additional bills this week

House leaders said today they plan to stick with House rules that reserve the final two days of the legislative session solely for dealing with overriding vetoed bills.

After a meeting between House and Senate leaders, Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo both said the session could conclude without any action on remaining legislation, including a bill to revamp the state’s economic development incentives program and a proposal to create a transportation infrastructure authority to finance the state’s largest transportation projects.

From the Herald-Leader

Senate President David Williams said Monday that House leaders have told him that the Democratic-controlled House will only consider any vetoes by Gov. Steve Beshear when lawmakers return to Frankfort Thursday and Friday to wrap up this year’s legislative session. The House does not plan to consider any legislation, Williams said.

So far, Gov. Steve Beshear has only issued one veto – a line-item veto of a portion of the road plan approved by the General Assembly earlier this month.

Stumbo left open the possibility of changing the House rules based upon the will of the caucus, which will meet Thursday.

Stumbo issued the following statement this afternoon –

“The 2009 Regular Session is widely considered to be one of the most successful in recent memory, and a key reason for that is because the House established clear rules at the outset – and then strictly followed them.  This approach gave a fair and open hearing to important issues of the day, and allows the legislature to act in a prudent and thoughtful manner.

“Our rules, and the calendar we adopted, provided for the last two days of the legislative session to be dedicated to vetoes and not for considering legislation.  Before we decide whether to suspend the rules, we will have to caucus, which we will do after the session re-convenes on Thursday.  If it is the will of the caucus to have such a suspension, we will go forward accordingly.

Update, 5:08 p.m.

Beshear issued this statement about the session this afternoon –

“We understand the position of House leadership and appreciate their willingness to get direction from the caucus on how best to move forward to complete what has been a productive legislative session so far. There is broad support in both chambers and in both parties for our economic development incentives package, for efforts to bring a NASCAR Sprint Cup series race to Kentucky, and for legislation that will, finally, pave the way to fund the Louisville bridges project. All of these initiatives will preserve and create jobs, while injecting hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact throughout the Commonwealth. We should move forward now to create those opportunities for our state and our people. In addition, there are remaining measures such as corrections reform that will create millions of dollars in savings in the midst of a challenging economic climate. All of these initiatives have garnered broad support and I hope that, together, we can find a way to move forward on these important issues.”

Lineup announced for Comment on Kentucky

KET has announced the line-up for tonight’s edition of Comment on Kentucky, its public affairs program that brings together Kentucky journalists to talk about the issues of the week.

Host Ferrell Wellman will be joined by reporters Roger Alford with the Associated Press, Ryan Alessi with the Herald-Leader and Ronnie Ellis with CNHI.

Be sure to tune in at 7 p.m. CST.

Governor, House leaders at odds over energy policy

The debate over the state’s comprehensive energy policy could be over for this year’s legislative session, or could be taken up in the session’s final two days next week, depending upon who you ask.

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat and the chamber’s point person on energy issues, said earlier this week that his House Bill 537, which would help outline the state’s energy policy, is dead for the session.

The announcement came after the Senate tacked on provisions to the bill that would lift the state’s moratorium on nuclear energy production and open up state-owned lands for oil and gas well leases, according to the Courier-Journal.

“The Senate is not willing to recede in those additions they have put onto it, so House bill 537 is dead for this session,” Adkins said in the statement.

But during a sweep through western Kentucky on Thursday to hand out Department of Homeland Security grants, Gov. Steve Beshear urged passage of the bill with the additions, the site KYWordsmith.com is reporting.

Beshear reportedly defended the nuclear energy provisions in the bill, saying that it will allow the discussion to begin about whether the state should allow nuclear power plants during a stop in Paducah, according to KYWordsmith.com.

The remarks apparently received a warm reception in the Paducah area, which is home to a uranium enrichment facility and to Sen. Bob Leeper, the Independent lawmaker who has pushed for the moratorium to be lifted for at least two legislative sessions.

The House and Senate reconvene for the final two days of the session on March 26.

Guthrie explains vote on AIG bonus bill in weekly update

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie was one of 85 Republican members of the House that voted Thursday in favor of a bill to levy a 90-percent tax on the recent bonuses doled out to AIG executives.

In his weekly update to constituents, Guthrie calls the $165 million package of bonuses to the insurance industry giant that has received billions of bailout dollars from the federal government “unacceptable.”

Here’s what Guthrie had to say –

I share your outrage toward American International Group (AIG) for using our hard-earned, taxpayer dollars to award excessive bonuses to their executives.  We are facing a severe economic crisis, and this abuse of taxpayer dollars is unacceptable. You deserve to have this money back, and that is why I voted today to take steps to get it back. While I preferred an alternative plan to recover these bonuses, I could not let this egregious waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars go without action.  Inaction was simply not a solution.

House Republicans were split on the issue, with 85 voting for the taxing measure and 87 voting against it, including House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio. The bill, which will head to the Senate, was adopted by a 328-93 vote.

KY Young Dems convention next week to feature VP’s sister

The annual convention of the Kentucky Young Democrats next week in Lexington will feature Valerie Biden Owens, the sister of Vice President Joe Biden

From a release from the KY Young Democrats – 

Owens has run every campaign for her older brother during his 37-year political career. She is the executive vice president of Joe Slade White and Company, a strategic consulting firm. Owens also serves as a volunteer political trainer for Women’s Campaign International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of women in the world’s emerging democracies, and she currently serves on the national board of the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum. 

“The 2008 election ignited an interest in politics for many young Democrats across the Commonwealth. Our organization is growing faster than ever because of people like Valerie and those who worked on the Obama-Biden campaign,” said KYD President Chad Aull. “We’re offering several opportunities for these Young Democrats to meet and hear Valerie and to become more involved through our many chapters across the state.”

The convention will be Friday and Saturday at Lexington Children’s Theatre and the Kentucky Horse Park, with Owens schedule to speak at the theater on Friday night. 

Sarah Palin, RNC Chair Michael Steele to attend Evansville Right to Life banquet

Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be attending the Vanderburgh County Right to Life Banquet next month. 

Palin will share the stage with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who took the helm of the party earlier this year. 

The April 16 banquet at The Centre in downtown Evansville is already sold out, but will be simulcast in the auditorium at The Centre.

Vanderburgh County Right to Life is now selling $16 tickets to watch the banquet in the auditorium, and left open the possibility that those watching the simulcast might get a visit from Palin. 

From the group’s site – 

There are 2500 seats available.  We are planning to ask Gov. Palin to make a personal appearance to the people in the Auditorium after she finishes in the banquet hall, however no guarantees to this can be made at this time.