Remember two years ago? The GOP, united and determined, passed Right to Work and Prevailing Wage Reform, then held a rare Saturday session to get these laws into statute. It’s highly unlikely that this Week One will bear any resemblance. The big issues are in flux and secondary decisions are not lined up.
Two factors: 30 of 100 House members are new. Public pension reform, fixes to tax reform, and charter schools make for very tough decisions ahead. These issues are permanent fixtures, cemented in the public agenda for years if not decades ahead. January is the critical pre-game prep for the lighting round starting February 5 and finishing by the end of March.
Numerous local and state officials will take the oath of office this week, the Lexington and Louisville mayors for example as well as judges. A congratulatory note is always appropriate and encouraged. To give you an idea of the numerous leadership changes in Frankfort, here’s the annual LANE Report summary that Julie and Bob wrote, just released.
The May 21st Primary Election is a backdrop for everything. Adam Edelen (D-Lexington) makes the Democratic race a highly competitive three-way contest with his announcement in Lexington. Attorney General Andy Beshear (D-Louisville) and House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D- Sandy Hook) have been canvassing the state for weeks now. Also, Representative Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt) with barely a year in the House has called a news conference for today at 9 am. The expectation is that Representative Goforth will go up against Governor Matt Bevin (R-Louisville) for the Republican nomination, a daunting task for the challenger.
The most interesting race to watch: Attorney General. Senator Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) has spent a year as the lone candidate. He narrowly lost to Beshear in 2015. Two new names bring drama to this race. Long-time House member Greg Stumbo (D- Prestonsburg) says he will run. He held the post when Dr. Ernie Fletcher was governor. Daniel Cameron (R-Louisville) is not widely known but is highly respected among the McConnell political family network, having served on the Senator’s Washington staff.
One well-known name on the potential candidate list is Heather French Henry of Louisville. She is a leading advocate for veterans: the same cause she carried nationwide as Miss America 2000. Henry would be a strong Lieutenant Governor candidate, a post held by her husband, Dr. Steve Henry, from 1995-2003. Another option for her: Secretary of State.
Next week we will share some key dates to watch during the Session. All of us here welcome your calls, comments, ideas or feedback.