Poet T. S. Eliot once wrote “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” The 2012 Legislative Session in Frankfort ended not with a whimper but with a bang, and unfortunately will force us to return for a special session.
The House and Senate spent the 60th and final day taking up final pieces of legislation. But out of the gate, last minute wrangling caused problems and led to the standoff at midnight.
Because the House and Senate could not agree on the bill that spelled out road and bridge construction projects in the Commonwealth for the next two years, a conference committee of both House and Senate members were formed and supposed to work out an agreement. Instead, two or three legislators worked behind closed doors and proposed a plan that violated legislative rules by including additional projects not in the original House or Senate versions.
The failure to follow the rules set up in the General Assembly, and the closed door dealings of a few legislators is the result we got, a breakdown in the final hours of this session.
In addition the finger pointing is a further reflection of the failed culture and leadership in Frankfort. If we ever hope to bring substance and end legislation sessions with good policy instead of politics and solutions ahead of spin, we must change how business is conducted in the state capitol immediately. I am very upset that now there has to be a special session.
Despite the failings of the last day of the 2012 session, nearly 150 bills were approved by the House and Senate that either have been signed into law or are awaiting the governor’s signature, during the 60-day session. Legislation passed during that time ranged from making synthetic forms of marijuana — which I was a co-sponsor — and other drugs illegal, to lowering the filing age for city council candidates to 18. Other bills approved include doing away with the pension program for Confederate veterans, and expanding the criminal definition of an abused child to include those sexually abused or forced into prostitution.
As always, I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 800-372-7181. A taped message containing information on legislative committee meeting schedules is available by calling 800-633-9650, and information on the status of each bill is available by calling 866-840-2835. If you have Internet access, I can be reached email@example.com, or you may keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page atwww.lrc.ky.gov.