Jim Gooch, climate scientist?

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported today state Rep. Jim Gooch Jr., a Providence Democrat, has introduced a resolution that questions the science behind climate change.

Gooch is co-chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment committee.

Gooch’s resolution – which is co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Fischer and Rep. Mike Harmon – states: “(A) recent disclosure of communications among scientists associated with the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia has cast serious doubt upon the scientific data that have purportedly supported the finding that manmade carbon dioxide has been a material cause of global warming or global climate change …”

The resolution would prevent state or local agencies from enacting or enforcing “any federal, state or local law, regulation ordinance or executive order that limits, regulates or controls the emission of carbon dioxide.” But the resolution generously says the federal government can enforce its own laws in the state.

The E-mails mentioned in Gooch’s resolution were obtained by people who do not believe human activity (such as burning coals) is contributing to global warming. They say the E-mails prove evidence has been altered to falsely show human activity is contributing to climate change.

When asked about the resolution, Gooch told Courier-Journal reporter James Bruggers: “I do not think our scientists understand the science of our planet.”

If the scientists most involved with climate research do not – as Gooch says- understand “the science of the planet,” it’s hard to believe Gooch has a firmer grasp on the subject. Perhaps Gooch has been hiding his credentials as the Commonwealth’s top climate scientist all these years?

House committee to hold hearings on state’s response to winter storm

Rep. Jim Gooch, chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, announced today that the panel will be conducting hearings to gauge the state’s response to the winter storm in January.

The storm left hundreds of thousands of utility customers around the state without power and water after ice and snow coated most of Kentucky.

From a release announcing the hearings –

“My goal is to see what worked, what didn’t, and what the legislature can do to help before storms like these hit again,” said Rep. Gooch, who chairs the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. “There is a lot of ground to cover, and it will likely take longer than this legislative session, but I believe we have to do this if we want to be better prepared.”

Rep. Gooch said he will invite the Public Service Commission, which is conducting a similar review for the utilities it oversees. “I’m pleased to see the PSC take on this responsibility, and hope that our inquiries strengthen each other,” he said.

Gooch, a Providence Democrat, said the hearings that begin Thursday will include input from local and state officials along with the state’s utility companies.

“This is not an attempt to place blame on anyone, but to see how we can all improve,” Gooch said in the release. “We benefited from some of the lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina, for example. My hope is that by holding these meetings, we can help others in the future who may find themselves in a similar condition. The more we learn, the better off we all are.”

The first hearing will begin at 9 a.m. EST Thursday in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex.

“In God We Trust” license plate bill passes committee

Several years after the national motto – “In God We Trust” – was emblazoned upon the House and Senate chambers, Rep. Jim Gooch is leading a push to put it on Kentucky license plates, too. 

This is the second year Gooch, a Providence Democrat, has filed legislation to allow for the creation of a license plate with the motto. 

Under House Bill 24, passed unanimously today by the House Transporation Committee, the state would make the plate available as a standard-issue plate, similar to the “Unbridled Spirit” plates that adorn most Kentucky vehicles. 

The group Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK)  had applied for a specialty plate with the motto, but has been denied by the state Transportation Cabinet because the legislature is considering the standard-issue plate. 

ROCK, like other groups in the state, had applied for the specialty plate that would cost motorists extra with the proceeds going to the organization for its use. 

Gooch said he didn’t believe that a plate with the national motto on it should be used to benefit one group. 

“I don’t think any group should be able to take up that motto” and benefit financially, Gooch said. 

After Indiana created a standard issue plate with “In God We Trust” on it, the state was sued by the ACLU, which claimed that motorists that wanted the plate were given preferential treatment. 

Gooch said that lawsuit has been concluded in favor of the state of Indiana, and he didn’t anticipate any legal opposition to the measure. 

House Bill 24 will now head to the full House for its consideration.

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.”

Lawmakers to push for “In God We Trust” plates next year

Two bills calling for the state to begin producing license plates with the “In God We Trust” motto on them have been prefiled for next year’s legislative session. 

Reps. Jim Gooch of Providence and Hubert Collins of Wittensville have teamed up to prefile a bill that would make the “In God We Trust” plate another standard plate the state offers to motorists for no additional charge.

On Monday, Rep. Rick Nelson prefiled his own bill that would accomplish the same goal, and appears to contain identical language to that included in the Gooch-Collins bill. 

The push for an “In God We Trust” license plate stalled this spring in part because of a dispute over who would receive the fees generated by the special plate. Continue reading