Monday, March 31, 2008

Rescuing Kathy Stein

Would you believe Rep. Kathy Stein (D-Lexington) has requested "extra police patrols" around her house after she stuffed Kentucky's illegal immigration bill?

That's what she told Governing Magazine.

Senate President David Williams might need extra police patrols around his house for facing the wrath of the teachers union and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover might need extra police patrols around his house for tweaking the labor unions.

The union thugs are at least twice as scary as normal citizens who just want the government to follow the law.

Shuckin' and jivin' the budget

Mark Hebert says reporters never really wanted budget negotiations in the open. And Ernie Fletcher's former spokesman says government secrecy is good for you.

Can't wait to see what happens behind closed doors when President David Williams agrees with Speaker Jody Richards.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A more efficient lottery would pay for this

One likely casualty of this year's budget malfunction is the Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University. This is an illegal charter school with students who come from all over the state.

If lawmakers would just get over their ideological opposition to school choice, we could make charter schools legal, spread them all over the state, and it wouldn't be such a tragedy when a strong new program like this goes down. The House Dems' rigid opposition to making the Kentucky Lottery operate more efficiently is to blame for this. Who are they protecting and why?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Looks like no budget

A source in the room where the Budget Conference Committee is being held said Rep. Larry Clark just stood up and said "It's over."

And all the House Democrats left.

If this is it on the budget, the next most important thing for the legislature to do is get serious about cutting public employee benefits to keep from bankrupting the state. That would be the conference committee on HB 600.

Midnight update: Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald Leader says Speaker Jody Richards told him they will meet at 4 pm Saturday to try again on the budget.

Tuesday is last chance to "throw the bums out"

Libertarian Party of Kentucky sources claim to have a candidate ready to file against tax-raising House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly. The deadline for candidates who are running as "independents" to file a Statement of Candidacy is Tuesday, April 1 at 4 pm.

Webb tangles lottery advertising facts

Pushing for the status quo in Kentucky Lottery waste tonight, Rep. Robin Webb claimed implausibly that the lottery gets up to $15 in return for every dollar it spends on advertising.

I'll call B.S. on that one.

It's probably a lot more like how Senate Budget Chairman Charlie Borders described it here on Monday: a complete waste.

Indeed, how much less would we have to spend on correctional facilities if we stopped advertising the lottery and just did a few PSAs telling people that if they really want to get rich they probably are going to have to work for it?

Covering Budget Crunch Time

The Budget Conference Committee was supposed to go into session at 3pm, according to KET Annex staff. That didn't happen. Now they are supposed to be going in at 4pm. Keep checking back here for updates.

KET will have video of the open meetings this weekend and I will be covering as much as possible.

Update: There is a little breaking news here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Missing the boat on Kentucky education reform

There are two bills in the legislature that would improve our school assessment program, CATS. They are SB 1 and HB 15.

In the following videos, Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes clearly explains what is wrong with CATS.

Obstruction of justice is a crime

Phone records at the Fayette county jail indicate conspirators Jim Kammer and Dr. Don Leach have received several calls in recent weeks from the FBI. Additionally, Leach had an interesting cell phone call in his office about the ongoing FBI investigation Mayor Jim Newberry keeps trying to downplay.

Can't get anyone to talk about the meetings Kammer and Leach had with the FBI. The grand jury investigating crimes by jail officials at the facility meets again Friday, April 4.

Toothpicks holding their eyes open

No one is blinking in the General Assembly stand-off over the budget. The main sticking point is whether or not to raise taxes on Kentuckians. House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly was reduced to on-camera profanity in last night's late night negotiations.

I can't imagine the House and Senate will reconcile their positions any time soon.

I will be on the Leland Conway radio show in Lexington ( this morning at 9:30 talking about the budget.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

FairTax train moving down the track

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) may wind up with three primary opponents. They are all in favor of the FairTax.

A Democratic opponent awaits the winner of that contest. The Democrat is a FairTax supporter as well.

Your gorilla is too fat, Mr. Keeling

You've heard of big problems described as an "800 pound gorilla." This morning, Lexington Herald Leader columnist Larry Dale Keeling packs an extra hundred pounds on him, calls him casino gambling, and claims that leaving him sitting in the corner is keeping the state from progressing.
"Second, no rational discussion of long-term revenue policy can be conducted until the 900-pound gorilla in our midst — casino gambling — has its day on the ballot.

Both are valid messages. The latter in particular cannot be repeated often enough. Until we decide to either feed or euthanize this gorilla, lawmakers will always use his lurking presence as an excuse to avoid facing up to the state’s fiscal reality.

Feeding the gorilla won’t solve the state’s revenue problems. But it would answer the question of how much revenue he can generate. That revenue, in turn, would serve as a temporary stopgap that gives lawmakers time to figure out what other steps they need to take to give Kentucky a stable, sustainable revenue base.

Euthanizing the gorilla makes the path to a stable, sustainable revenue base considerably longer. But it, at least, removes one of the major distractions that has kept the state from starting that journey."

I added the emphasis to this passage to draw attention to the wild claim that not deciding on casinos one way or the other is preventing state policymakers from making progress on planning for the future. That isn't our problem. Kentucky can't afford Big Government and the effort to buy it or lease it on the cheap just makes matters worse. That is Kentucky's gorilla.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paging Saint Jude

It's pretty funny to think House Democrats today temporarily booted their efforts to raise taxes to skip out with Governor Steve Beshear, fresh off his self-administered invitation-only casino gambling butt kicking, to go see Slick Willie refuse to read the handwriting on the wall about his wife's dead presidential aspirations.

Pretty good day's work for the patron saint of lost causes.

Jason Mays takes on Hookey Hoffman

Sure hope House Majority Caucus Chair Charlie Hoffman had fun cheering on Bill Clinton today. His Republican opponent, Jason Mays of Georgetown, is raising money at a furious pace from various groups of people who are worn out with Hoffman.

Sorry Charlie likes to go in hiding when an opponent works to pin him down on his lackluster performance. That won't play so well on YouTube.

Quick, someone ask Sorry Charlie if he is really a target of an FBI investigation! Pretty wild stuff.

This is one to watch...

Horse trading on the budget

The Senate's upper hand in the upcoming budget negotiations could wind up being a good thing for education.

The House and Governor Steve Beshear can be skeptical about the Senate plan to raise revenue by forcing the Lottery to tighten up its operations, but they don't dare go against the effort. At the same time, the Senate can rail against the tax increases the House and Governor want without fear of any loss.

And Governor Beshear doesn't really have much to offer in return for his one priority, casino gambling. He has really already played all his cards.

So it comes down to what the Senate wants to ask for in exchange for approving the budget. The House may be asked to decide between the teachers union and the budget. It's a great time to do it and Kentucky families stand to benefit the most in the bargain.

Monday, March 24, 2008

House budget is the outlier

The Senate budget taxes less and borrows less than the House budget and will make it pretty easy for Governor Steve Beshear to side with Senate President David Williams against Speaker Jody Richards and House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly.

Gun grabber panic alert

Law-abiding concealed carry permit-holding citizens will attend the Frankfort City Commission meeting tonight with firearms in their possession, an action which is specifically not prohibited by law. Some people think this is a really big deal.

Sleep for twenty years, Todd, and maybe we will elect you governor

Treasurer Todd Hollenbach came into his vestigial office this year amid an effort to save taxpayer money and shut the office down.

So, what are we getting for our money? This.

Not only has Hollenbach managed to do nothing at all in office, he hasn't even gotten around to changing the name at the top of his own website. Look at the very top of that page.

The House Democrats' concern for taxpayer interests ends in about the same place as those of lazy politicians begins.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Are you getting all of this?

Yet another screw-up hits the Fayette County Detention Center. Details below. Mayor Jim Newberry had no comment.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Start here. And then watch this.

Pension flood coming; Harry Moberly floats

Maybe you've heard that a lot of things happen in California ten years before we see them here.

Sounds about right for this. It's bad enough Harry Moberly has his knickers in a twist about the Senate not going for his tax hikes. If he screws up our pension reform, we will really have trouble.

The budget squabbles will get more attention in the MSM this week, but Moberly and the House Dems are causing much more trouble by not agreeing to the Senate's improvements to HB 600.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Let's blow the lid off Frankfort now

Pretty funny to watch the author of last year's Secrecy Bill take credit for opening up the smoke-filled room budget negotiation process. The fact that HB 413 has gone unnoticed in Harry Moberly's own A&R Committee for seven weeks suggests a certain lack of sincerity as well.

Nevertheless, something is changing in Frankfort. With the growth of the internet, citizens aren't content to sit in the dark waiting to be lied to by our elected representatives. Moberly, Speaker Jody Richards, and Senate President David Williams are starting to see that. We need real government transparency and there is no legitimate reason to keep us waiting any more. This General Assembly has already been a colossal failure with no meaningful reform of anything. Transparency is something on which everyone can agree. Let's do it.

Tell your lawmakers to pull back the curtains now. Passing HB 413, HB 105 (or HB 769 if you prefer yours watered down), and HB 58 would be a good way to start.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Beshear wins bet, gets pork

Western Kentucky University won their NCAA tournament game against Drake in an overtime shocker and so Governor Steve Beshear won his bet with Iowa's governor. As his payoff, he will receive forty pounds of pork.

That may be Beshear's last winning bet for a while. But as long as our New York bankers hold up, he will continue to be overstuffed with pork.

Good: Beshear couldn't sell RomneyCare

A silver lining in the dark clouds over this dysfunctional General Assembly may just be that there is no sentiment for expanding government health insurance.

It's instructive to see what the government plan in Massachusetts(RomneyCare) has done to that state. It's noteworthy also that the casino industry has also failed so far to make inroads into Massachusetts beyond that state's governor.

New look for Kentucky "economic development"

Speaker Jody Richards has added Rep. Scott Alexander to the House Economic Development Committee.

Beating up Christians on Good Friday

House Judiciary Chair Kathy Stein has tortured the immigration bill, HB 304, all year long. Today, she has called a special committee meeting to continue talking the bill to death. Stein has wasted many valuable hours mishandling her committee. She is now adding insult to injury by keeping the Christian members of her committee from church services so she can stage an unnecessary political stunt.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saving Kentucky taxpayer money online

The Senate Judiciary Committee just advanced a bill that will save us a little money and points toward the way to save much more.

Senate Bill 188 would save taxpayers about $60,000 a year by allowing county court clerks to email (rather than snail mail) documents relating to children in foster care. As more government communications occur over the internet, we get closer to the time we can put government notices currently required to be printed in newspapers on the web instead.

That will save us a lot of money.

Expanding harassment laws not necessary

In case you thought the Kentucky bill to prohibit anonymous blogging was just a silly waste of time, you might want to look at how New Jersey is trying to do the same thing by using existing consumer protection law.

It's a lot like suing the phone company because someone called you and said something mean. If someone is really being hurt, there are already protections in place. We need to be very careful how we define our terms, though, so we don't wind up infringing further on political speech.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Governor Beshear, keep the block on my blog

Page One Kentucky reports Governor Steve Beshear is ending the block on political blogs enacted by Governor Ernie Fletcher.

May I suggest Governor Beshear keep the block on blogs he opposes politically? I have no problem with a continued block on this site.

And get this one, too, while you are at it, Governor.

How's that voter discontent feel now?

Remember way back in 2006 when Republicans were about to get their rear ends handed to them and people on the right were as upset as those on the left? What has changed since then? Anything?

I just came across the video of a Kentucky Tonight program in October 2006 when I was trying to make the case for blaming the Republicans who were causing the problems rather than those who held to conservative principles.

Can there be any disagreement on the point that we are worse off now than we were then?

House tries tinkering its way to prosperity

The House just chickened out on meaningful public employee benefit reform by rejecting the changes the Senate made to HB 600 which would have moved us in the direction of sufficient funding for our woefully underfunded liabilities.

The House must prefer that we just pay more later. Our payday lender friends should be overjoyed that so many people have such disdain for fiscal prudence.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kathy Stein gets schooled

House Judiciary Chair Kathy Stein has tried every trick in the book this year to keep the illegal immigration bill from getting an honest hearing in Frankfort. As neighboring states pass laws to restrict hiring of those here illegally, Kentucky can't just stand by and do nothing.

Falsified identification documents are a big part of the problem. So this afternoon when Rep. Bob Damron attached identity theft provisions from HB 304 to HB 553, it sailed through the House. Don't know if the MSM picked up on this, but it is a big story today.

Ronnie Ellis needs answers

Columnist Ronnie Ellis describes problems with the Kentucky budget process such as the do-nothingness of legislators for at least the first half of the session, the secrecy, and the way the budget is then rammed down everyone's throats at the last minute so it has to be voted on without being read or discussed.

Maybe if we are going to have a bill to criminalize anonymous comments online, we need a bill to prohibit syndicated columnists from complaining about the bad actions of lawmakers without offering solutions.

Mr. Ellis would do very well to familiarize himself with House Bill 58, House Bill 413, and Senate Bill 3 which would eliminate each of the problems he describes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

If we're broke, let's be transparent

It continues to amaze me that the mainstream media hasn't jumped on board the government transparency movement. Even Chairman Harry Moberly's protege Rep. Don Pasley stuck his toe in the water. Governor Steve Beshear got caught on tape promising to show the public more of where their money is going. Come on in, guys, the water is fine!

The Sam Adams Alliance is leading the charge in getting the states to open their books to public inspection. We should join them now!

Cracking The CON, Inflating Health Insurance

Another disappointing feature of the Governor Steve Beshear administration is the continuation of support for the destructive Certificate of Need (CON) program.

House Bill 747 would open the door just wide enough to start justifying repeal of the whole mess. HB 747 comes up for a vote in the House Health & Welfare Committee tomorrow morning.

Also tomorrow, the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee will vote on making the ICARE subsidy permanent. ICARE takes tax money from you and me and gives it to people who don't buy their own health insurance. ICARE was established as a pilot project in 2006.

Team McCain Might Want To Look At This

Project Vote Smart regularly chastises candidates of both political parties for not answering its "Political Courage Test."

Currently, if you look at the PVS entries for both Anne Northup and Rep. John Yarmuth, you will see the following message:

Key national leaders of both major parties including:
John McCain, Republican Senator
Geraldine Ferraro, Former Democratic Congresswoman
Michael Dukakis, Former Democratic Governor
Bill Frenzel, Former Republican Congressman
Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President

Over 100 news organizations throughout the nation also urged their candidates to supply their issue positions through the National Political Awareness Test.

If you happen to look at the entry for presidential candidate John McCain, you will find the following:
Senator John Sidney McCain III repeatedly refused to provide any responses to citizens on the issues through the 2008 Political Courage Test when asked to do so by national leaders of the political parties, prominent members of the media, Project Vote Smart President Richard Kimball, and Project Vote Smart staff.

Urge Senator John Sidney McCain III to fill out the Political Courage Test

Senator McCain might want to stop asking others to fill out this stupid survey if he won't do it himself.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cutting Taxpayer Spending On Corporate Welfare

Are you still looking for a way to cut government spending to shore up Kentucky's bad budget picture?

Try HB 748 and HB 750, which would set Kentucky up to get out of the corporate welfare business. This is something a lot of Kentuckians should be able to agree on. Tax cuts across-the-board benefit taxpayers, but individualized tax abatements to individual corporations benefit very narrowly while hurting everyone else.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Beshear Holding Tax Increase Rally Wednesday

After campaigning for months as a candidate against tax increases, Governor Steve Beshear is now apparently leading the charge.

Their cause celebre, raising the cigarette tax, seems like an odd move for a politician whose jumping-off point in October was this:
Beshear said he not only would not raise taxes, but that he would support repeal of the infamous Limited Liability Entity tax (LLET) signed into law by Governor Fletcher. Beshear won't have to go far to find a way to repeal the unpopular tax, as the bill has already been pre-filed. The third horse on Beshear's trifecta box is, of course, casino gambling.
Lots of water under the bridge since then.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a bridge today...

Probably the best thing that can be said about the state's role in federally-matched health coverage plans like SCHIP and Medicaid is that they are big government at a discounted rate.

So what are we to think when the House wants to spend money we don't have to build bridges on interstate roads?

Our all-powerful congressional delegation really should be playing a role in this, rather than leaving it to Frankfort.

One way to handle a bullying bill

Senate Democrats are up in arms because the House's "bullying" bill got a committee substitute from President David Williams that doesn't include the word "bullying" or the phrase "The Golden Rule." More symbolism over substance, as usual, from that chamber's minority party.

After an angry diatribe, Senator Julian Carroll thoughtfully added "I am not a Greek philosopher."

The bill passed. I'm sure my kids feel safer already.

Making People Mad 101

Richard Day at Kentucky School News and Commentary says:

"David Adams at the Bluegrass Institute reported yesterday on an anti-union group that is offering to "pay the ten worst union-protected teachers in America $10,000 apiece to get out of the classroom - for good."

The Center for Union Facts presents state data on union activity, including financial resources, but focuses on the percentage of teachers fired by the states - as some magically omniscient measure of teacher quality.The logic is - private school teachers are better because more of them get fired.

David would have to tell us how many folks at BGI were fired last year - but I'm not sure how that would relate to the quality of their work anyway.

This is clearly a cynical gimmick designed to ramp up anti-public school sentiment."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Sneaky House Budget Actions

House Democrats just suspended the rules to throw another amendment on the budget bill and were trying to force a vote without allowing Republicans to even read it.

After a request from Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, a fifteen minute break was granted for a quick read. But what we really need, though, is this bill to give legislators and the public time to read their garbage before it is crammed down our throats.

Taxing In Circles and Picking Our Own Pockets

Rep. David Watkins just made a House floor speech in favor of cutting out the health ravages of smoking by raising the cigarette tax twenty five cents a pack. He spoke about how much it costs taxpayers to cover through Medicaid the treatment of smoking related diseases.

Since Medicaid recipients who smoke are likely to pay the tax increase with our money anyway, wouldn't it make more sense to take steps to remove benefits from people who smoke?

Jody Richards Allergic To Taxpayer Rights

While Rep. Jody Richards was dripping orange hair dye on Rep. Greg Stumbo's speaker's chair yesterday, he had a chance to strike a blow for taxpayers.

He failed.

Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo's economic development transparency bill was the perfect vehicle for Rep. Jim DeCesare to attach his transparency bill and get it a hearing in the House.

Richards, showing yet again his apparent lack of understanding of the term "germane," ruled the amendment out of order.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Asking Jim Newberry

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry goes in for a deposition on Thursday to testify regarding his role in the cover-up of the Fayette County Detention Center prisoner abuse scandal.

Perhaps he will have details about the revelations of a jail employee trading clean drug tests for sexual favors and car detailing at Paul Miller Ford.

No Priorities, Only More Spending

The House Budget Committee just voted to raise your taxes more.

Rep. Jim Wayne said legislators would be "dead-beat parents" if they didn't raise taxes.

"All of us want more in the budget and the only way we are going to get more in the budget is to raise more revenue," Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark said, summing up perfectly what is wrong with our state government.

The bill they voted on was HB 262. As of this writing, not all the details are available. Hope to have it updated tonight.

Rep. Bob DeWeese and Rep. Danny Ford called out House Dem leaders for trying to cram the tax increase down their throats. Rep. DeWeese also complained that legislators will have to vote on the budget without being able to read it.

Rep. Keith Hall suggested there would be "blood on my hands" if he didn't vote for the tax increase. He voted for it.

The Tax Increase Fix Is In

The Senate Budget Committee is set this morning to vote on the HB 258 tax increase bill the House passed 97-0.

And no, don't call me and tell me it was just a tax increase on companies not headquartered in Kentucky or that it just turned back the clock on a part of the 2005 tax modernization. Consumers pay more when corporate taxes go up, even if the corporations aren't based in Kentucky.

A year ago, we were going to get rid of this tax. Doesn't anyone remember that?

It is disgusting to see Harry Moberly writing the tax increase talking points for Frankfort Republicans now. What's next, another cigarette tax increase for the children?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunny And Money Monday!

I'm stuck in the Louisville Airport after a car accident/traffic jam/missed flight/toiletries tossed in the name of jihad all-day nightmare as I try to get to Washington D.C. for the week.

To top it all off, the internet connection I just blew five dollars on here doesn't work very well. I plan to do updates tonight, but it might be a little thin until then.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

March 10 Monday Morning Meeting

Monday (3/10/08) at 10 am in Frankfort, Bluegrass Institute's education analyst Dick Innes will speak about reforming the education assessment program called CATS and about why the bureaucrats (and their politicians) are against Senate President David Williams' SB 1.

The forum will be held in the conference room at the Kentucky Association of Homebuilders, 1040 Burlington Lane in Frankfort.

Anyone is welcome to attend, but please email me at adams(at) to let me know you are coming. Members of the media are welcome to attend, but the entire meeting is off the record.

Friday, March 07, 2008

House Dems' New Population Reduction Scheme

One point missing from our discussion about the competing Democratic plans to raise your Kentucky taxes is that the reliance on refinancing bonds works like a tax increase, too. If we redo a bunch of bonds that are within just a few years of maturity, but have higher interest payments than are available now, we will wind up paying more money on that debt over time.

The interest payments may be lower now, but by resetting the terms back out to twenty years, we are ensuring that Kentucky taxpayers of the future will pay more then because we didn't cut spending now.

If we were actually saving the savings it might be a different story, but you know we won't be doing that.

And when you add in the public employee benefits disaster no one is talking about anymore, you see that we are only setting the timer on a killer bomb that will go off after the current crop of "leaders" is dead or out of office.

And speaking of death, HB 707 zings you on your final exit by prohibiting anyone but funeral directors from transporting a body to be cremated. Limiting competition here is certain to increase final expense prices.

Ed Worley Gets One Thing Right

Senator Ed Worley just said on the Senate floor "The basic question before us today is 'have we been successful with KERA and with CATS?"

It is correct to say that is the question at the heart of the current education debate.

But the magic didn't hold for long. Worley said the answer was "yes" and then he voted "no" on Senate Bill 1 and then added that we would really "humanize" the education process by passing a bullying bill.

Photoshop Me, Baby, One More Time

This picture would now be perfect if Governor Steve Beshear had a cigarette in his left hand.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Steve Beshear Fib (Non-Smoking Version)

If you haven't gotten in the habit of reading the Bluegrass Policy Blog, you may have missed this.

Cutting The Fat In Reverse

Now that Governor Steve Beshear has come clean about his support for a seventy cents a pack cigarette tax increase, we are about to see it get better.

House Majority Caucus Chairman Charlie Hoffman is going to propose raising it by a dollar.

Shaughnessy Spins The Roulette Wheel

Senator Tim Shaughnessy stopped to explain his vote against the SB 1 education reform bill by making an odd comparison that defines the opposition to improvement of public education in this state.

"This is a gambling bill," Shaughnessy said. By that he meant changing from the familiar course would present too much risk.

Nonsense. Depending on the education bureaucracy to operate with little real accountability and putting them in charge of administering the state's method of tracking their efforts would never be tolerated in the real world and should not be supported by taxpayers.

Senate Bill 1 just passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a party-line vote.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What, No Jail Time?

Senate Bill 246, filed Wednesday, requires parents to send their children to public school until age eighteen.

This is perhaps the closest we will get to any kind of school reform from this General Assembly. The only way they could make this junk worse would be to work up some kind of punishment for parents when their teenagers drop out of school. Otherwise, the people who really get hurt by expanding compulsory attendance are the kids who want to learn but are required to sit next to the disruptive kids who are forced to stay in school.

Sorry Charlie

Rep. Charlie Hoffman is riding out his last days in House leadership kicking the casino gambling horse, trying to get it to make the final turn.

But it won't get him to the finish line. It is dead.

Hoffman stuck another amendment on the casino bill today. What a complete waste of time this whole General Assembly session has been. Leaders like Sorry Charlie just won't get us anywhere.

Here Comes Adult Supervision

Louisville GOP insiders say long-time activist Craig Maffet has the votes to become the next chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party.

This is a welcome change in The River City.


House Democrats have cancelled tomorrow's caucus meeting where some hoped they might get their act straight.

The group has not met since the first week of the General Assembly, which is very unusual and suggests there is no functioning leadership.

3/06 UPDATE: Now it looks like the the meeting will happen, but the agenda will only include the budget and tax increases.

More Attacks On Political Speech

HB 775 would prohibit posting anonymously to a blog, website, or message board and levies hefty fines for violations.

SB 214 would criminalize internet-based communications deemed annoying.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Making The Case For Moving The Filing Deadline

The House of Representatives just passed a tax increase bill 97-0.

Rep. Jim DeCesare's amendment to repeal the LLET came up for a voice vote (and clearly passed, according to my hearing, though Speaker Richards screamed "NO!" into his microphone.

Passing this bill simply makes it harder for companies to justify doing business in Kentucky. The bill raises taxes on companies who do business here but are headquartered in other states. No one can pretend this tax would cause any more companies to move their business here.

If we didn't shut off our candidate filing season earlier than anyone else in the country, a lot of people would have earned opponents today.

Lemurs, Camels, And Jackasses. Oh My!

House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly made a circus out his Appropriations and Revenue Committee meeting this morning. He attempted to use camels to destroy the coal industry and lemurs to tax the state into oblivion.

Two Very Different Legislative Chambers

While the most important bills likely to pass the Kentucky Senate this year would rein in government powers in education and the executive and legislative branches, the misfiring in the House continues with Rep. Kathy Stein's bullet bill.

The bullet bill would effectively disarm law-abiding Kentuckians by requiring a serial number and an additional tax on every bullet sold in Kentucky.

Monday, March 03, 2008

An Amendment Worth Talking About

Rep. Jamie Comer filed an amendment today to the felon voting bill, HB 70, that would require felons to repay 25% of the cost of their incarceration before having voting rights restored.

Keeping His Eye Off The Ball

Governor Steve Beshear has been cozying up to former Rep. Mike Weaver recently and taking an interest in his race against Rep. Tim Moore.

The anti-gambling people, the anti-socialized medicine people, and Senator Brandon Smith report that is probably good for Rep. Moore.

Beshear was asked recently about his solution to his political problems. He offered this:

Jim Wayne's World Invades Earth

Rep. Jim Wayne's bills usually get laughed out the House, but this year looks to be different.

The House appears ready to call for a vote on HB 262, an enormous tax increase. It stands no chance in the Senate, but the House has gone off the deep end.

Another Money-Saving Idea

How does it benefit Kentucky for us to give free health insurance to part-time city commissioners and county magistrates?

And let's not have any more of that "best and brightest" bunk...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Where's Kentucky's HillaryCare Now?

One of the best things about the current fiscal crisis in Kentucky is no one is talking about spending more money on government-provided health insurance.

Well, almost no one.

The fiscal note on HB 345 estimates that for KCHIP, Kentucky will spend $198 per month in 2008-09 and $212 per month in 2009-10 per child. That's a little much, especially considering that it's just Kentucky's share before the federal match.

Another line in the fiscal note, however, would be a more useful focal point:
"Allowing members to remain in the program who are not eligible would prevent the program from serving the neediest population due to limited funding."

We need to be raising eligibility limits on KCHIP, not lowering them. Doing so would enhance our ability to help the kids from the poorest families.

We Have Your Answer, Mr. Cross

Al Cross gives an interesting history lesson about part of what plagues Frankfort in today's Courier-Journal.

In it, he lodges a valid complaint about how incumbent legislators a generation ago rigged the game for themselves so that they could more easily get over on their constituents. Inexplicably, this outrage persists:
"(That led to a series of wholly selfish acts; lawmakers made the primary filing deadline one of the earliest in the nation, so they could gauge their opposition before casting controversial votes.)"

It doesn't serve the public interest to arrange our elections with the sole purpose of unfairly protecting incumbents. Given the mess our incumbents have put us in, it should be pretty easy to see that unraveling any part of this twisted tizzy would help democratize the power base in the state.

Senate Bill 3 would move the legislative filing deadline to after even-year sessions, to enhance citizens' ability to protect themselves from legislators who lose sight of their purpose in Frankfort.

Seems to be a bit of that going around.