House makes committee assignments, six new to chairmanships

House leaders released committee assignments this morning that included six new faces in committee leadership, including Rep. Rick Rand, who will replace long-serving Appropriations and Revenue Committee chairman Rep. Harry Moberly

Rand, a Bedford Democrat, said he is up to the challenge, and will be leaning for a time on Moberly, who served for 14 years as head of the House budget committee. 

“It’s exciting and I look forward to it,” Rand said. “I appreciate the confidence that House leadership has in me.”

Moberly, a Richmond Democrat, lost the chairmanship with a change in House leadership this week that included the election of House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg. Moberly backed Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green, who had held the speaker’s post for 14 years. 

Moberly noted that he gained the chairmanship in 1995 with the change in the House speakership. 

“Any knowledge or experience I have will be at their disposal,” Moberly told reporters. “We’re going to all have to cooperate and stick together because we have the most difficult times that I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

The state is facing a $456.1 million budget shortfall this year, and lawmakers, particularly those on the budget committees in the House and Senate, expect to work through the three-week recess to develop a plan to deal with that budget gap.

Rep. Tommy Thompson had been rumored to be in the running for the Appropriations and Revenue Committee chairmanship, but instead landed a spot as chairman of a budget review subcommittee on education. 

Thompson had served as chair of the House Banking and Insurance Committee for the past two years, and said the move to the budget subcommittee was a promotion. 

The committee will be looking specifically at primary and secondary education, which Thompson noted makes up about 45 percent of the state’s budget. 

“I am really honored that the leadership had the confidence in giving me a budget committee chairmanship that’s responsible for the biggest portion of the budget,” Thompson said. “I really enjoyed Banking and Insurance as a chair, but they gave me a choice and this is a promotion.”

Other new faces in committee leadership include Rep. John Tilley of Hopkinsville, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Jeff Greer of Brandenberg, who will chair the Banking and Insurance Committee; Rep. Carl Rollins II of Midway, who will chair the Education Committee; Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro, who will chair the Labor and Industry Committee; and Rep. Dennis Keene of Wilder, who will chaie the Licensing and Occupations Committee. 

Richards, who returns to serving on committees after losing the speaker’s post, will serve on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, a first for him, and on the Education Committee. 

Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence also retained his spot as chair of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. 

Read more about the assignments in Saturday’s Messenger-Inquirer.

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With House leadership change, committee chairmanships could be reassigned

House leadership elections Tuesday that saw the selection of Rep. Greg Stumbo as the chamber’s new speaker likely mean changes in chairmanships of House committees, lawmakers said Wednesday. 

Stumbo has said he will be considering a change to one of the chamber’s most powerful committees – Appropriations and Revenue – currently headed by Rep. Harry Moberly, a Richmond Democrat. 

Stumbo said Tuesday night that he would be looking to change the way that committee operates, and whether Moberly remains at its head depends upon whether he’s willing to accept those changes. 

Stumbo has said he wants to get more lawmakers involved in the budget process and make sure lawmakers have more information about the budget as it’s being developed.

“Harry’s talented, he’s got a lot of institutional knowledge, but we are going to change the way that we handle the budget situation,” Stumbo said. 

Moberly disputed Stumbo’s claims that the budget process hasn’t been open, and said he has worked to make the process more open and broader. 

When asked if he expected to be reappointed as chairman of the committee, Moberly said he didn’t. 

Other chairmanships could be more secure as the House leadership team works today and tomorrow to determine those positions and assignments for all lawmakers. 

Rep. Jim Gooch, a Providence Democrat, said this afternoon that he feels confident he will remain chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. 

“I won’t have any problem there,” Gooch said. 

Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat who ran unsuccessfully as majority whip Tuesday, said he “probably” will stay as chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee. 

At least one lawmaker – Rep. Jeff Greer of Brandenburg and strong Stumbo supporter – has expressed interest in chairing that committee.

“I’ve really enjoyed that committee and it’s a subject I like,” Thompson said. “There is some discussion about maybe a couple of other options, so something else may develop, but at the moment I’m certainly looking at the probability of staying at the Banking and Insurance Committee.”

Thompson said he has told members of leadership that he’d still be interested in remaining chairman of that committee, but would also be interested in other options they were considering. Thompson declined to say what those options were.

When asked Wednesday morning if he was considering Thompson to head the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Stumbo declined to comment, saying “we really haven’t talked about that yet.”

Beshear talks budget shortfall with Senate, House leaders

Gov. Steve Beshear met with leaders in the Senate and House on Tuesday to talk about the state’s budget shortfall, but disclosed little about his plan to close that gap, according to the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal.

Gov. Steve Beshear

Gov. Steve Beshear

House budget chairman Rep. Harry Moberly, a Richmond Democrat, later told reporters he believes cuts alone will not be enough to erase a predicted $456.1 million shortfall, but that Beshear did not say what, if any, revenue measures he would be proposing. 

Beshear has said he will release his  plan to address the budget shortfall after receiving recommendations from state agencies about how to cut their budgets by at least 4 percent. 

Beshear said last week during meetings with media outlets that his proposal could come by the end of the week. 

“We’re just now going through that decision-making process and by the end of the week we’ll have our plan put together,” Beshear told Tom Loftus of the Courier-Journal when asked about a possible increase in the cigarette tax.

In a statement released Tuesday, Senate President David Williams asked the governor to hold off on increasing taxes, according to the Courier-Journal.