Thompson on Kentucky Tonight

State Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat, will appear on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” tonight (March 22) at 7 p.m.

Host Bill Goodman and his guests will discuss the 2010 General Assembly.

Scheduled guests are:

State Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, chair of the House Local Government Committee

– Thompson, chair of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary/Secondary Education

– State Rep. Danny Ford, R-Mount Vernon

– State Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail, including name and town or county, to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form at www.ket.org/kytonight.

The phone number for viewer calls during the program is (800)494-7605.

Advertisements

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.

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.”

Session begins, leadership races take top billing

With the bang of gavels at either end of the state Capitol in Frankfort Tuesday, the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly got under way at noon. 

Even before the official start of the session, most of the talk around the Capitol grounds centered on the leadership races in the House, which should be decided when the House Democratic Caucus goes into a closed-door meeting at 3 p.m. EST.

House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green is facing only the second challenge to the post he has held since 1995. Rep. Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg is challenging Richards, who he served under as majority floor leader before leaving the legislature for a term as attorney general. 

Both men appeared confident of victory in the caucus vote as they worked the House chamber, shaking hands and leaning close to make comments to their fellow lawmakers. 

“I’m very optimistic,” Richards said after the House adjourned for the day. “I received several calls last night, and I feel very comfortable. I think I have far more than enough to win.”

Stumbo also claimed to have the votes to make him the chamber’s leader only a year after rejoining the legislature. 

“I feel good about it,” Stumbo said. “I think change is in the air. It’s a pretty clear choice between whether the members want to keep the status quo or do they want to change the way we do business.”

According to tradition, the minority Republicans in the House typically vote to elect the selections by the Democratic caucus, which is in the majority with 65 of the chamber’s 100 members. 

Both Richards and Stumbo discounted any speculation that this year’s leadership elections would be put to the entire House.

Another House leadership race – majority whip – features Rep. Tommy Thompson of Philpot who is facing Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty and Rep. Arnold Simpson of Covington. That race had as many as five candidates at one point, and there was some speculation that it would be narrowed to two – Thompson and Stacy – by caucus time. 

As was typical of any candidate for a leadership post on Tuesday, Thompson felt confident with two hours left before the caucus meeting. 

“I’m still working up to the last minute,” Thompson said. “I really feel good about the commitments I’ve received and the expressions of support. I just hope those will translate into a win.”

When asked about the speaker’s race, Thompson remained noncommittal, but said he thought most members were looking for “a new direction.”

Stacy said that like many candidates, he was campaigning on a platform of more cohesion within the Democratic caucus and better cooperation with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and the Senate. 

“We need to set our differences aside if we can and work with persistence and goodwill toward all sides,” Stacy said. 

Stay tuned for more from the leadership elections this afternoon.

Choosing sides in House leadership races

While many Americans look toward Election Day on Nov. 4 as the airwaves fill with ads and candidates refine their stump speeches, another election coming next year has many in Kentucky politics just as interested.

Following a legislative session this spring that left many lawmakers frustrated, the leadership elections in the Kentucky House next January promise to be a more competitive and dramatic undertaking than in years past.

Rep. Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, has already announced he will challenge House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green for the chamber’s top post.

And Daviess County could have a seat at the leadership table with Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat, running for House majority whip in a field that has the most contenders.

“It’s going to be an interesting time,” Stumbo said during a recent interview.

Stumbo, who served as House majority floor leader before being elected state attorney general, returned to the legislature this spring after winning a special election.

Though technically a freshman legislator, Stumbo was called upon by leadership on many occasions because of his experience, and he negotiated with Senate President David Williams on legislation regarding water and sewer projects.

After much speculation this spring and summer, Stumbo announced last month that he would challenge Richards, the longest-serving speaker of the House in state history. Continue reading

H-L: Stumbo to run for speaker of the House

Rep. Greg Stumbo, the former state House majority floor leader and state attorney general from Kentucky, ended months of speculation today by telling the Herald-Leader he is running for House speaker.

Stumbo told the Herald-Leader’s Ryan Alessi and Larry Dale Keeling that he will challenge Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green, the state’s longest-serving House speaker, in January’s leadership elections.

Stumbo told Keeling he hasn’t obtained many commitments for votes from fellow House members, but feels he would win the election were it held today.

“The entire membership feels like a lot of times we haven’t held our ground and that, in some instances, we haven’t been as forceful in maintaining our positions as Sen. Williams and the senate conferees have been,” Alessi quotes Stumbo as saying.

I’m interested to see how several members of the local delegation side come January.

Rep. Jim Glenn of Owensboro, who is being challenged this November by Republican Ben Boarman, relied on Richards two years ago when he unseated Republican Joe Bowen in the 13th District. Richards also attended an Owensboro fundraiser this summer for Glenn.

But Glenn was critical of the House leadership following this spring’s legislative session, and said recently that he is focusing on the election in November and not the one in January.

Similarly, Rep. Tommy Thompson of Philpot has been a Richards ally in the past, including supporting the Bowling Green Democrat’s campaign for governor last spring. Thompson was also named to chair the House Banking and Insurance Committee last year by the Richards-headed House leadership.

But Thompson reportedly attended a recent luncheon at a recent luncheon in Frankfort hosted by Stumbo to help connect some House members with possible campaign contributors.

Beshear in Owensboro on Monday for press conference, town hall meeting

Gov. Steve Beshear will bring his “Beshear About Kentucky” listening tour to Owensboro Monday night.

The event, which allows residents to ask questions of the governor and cabinet secretaries and offer suggestions, begins at 6 p.m. at Apollo High School at 2280 Tamarack Road.

While in town, Beshear has also scheduled a 4:30 p.m. press conference with Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat, to talk about home foreclosure relief.

Beshear spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said little information will be released prior to the press conference, which is being held at 2431 Ford Ave. – a home built by the Philpot legislator’s company, Thompson Homes, and featured in this year’s Parade of Homes.

Beshear will also stop in the McLean County town of Sacramento earlier in the day to present a ceremonial check there for a housing assistance grant.

Update…

Beshear will be talking about House Bill 552 at this afternoon’s press conference on Ford Avenue.

The bill, sponsored by Thompson and passed this spring, establishes the Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center that is designed to provide homeowners with information about how to avoid foreclosure. The new law, which went into effect last month, also puts in place new requirements for mortgage lenders.

House Bill 552 passed both chambers without opposition.