Kentucky legislature

GOP KY House member switching parties (UPDATE: confirmed)

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April 22, 2011
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We’ve received word that Republican State Representative Wade Hurt is announcing today that he is switching to the Democratic Party.

Hurt was elected to his first term representing the 37th House District in southwest Louisville last November, running unopposed. He took the seat vacated by Democrat Ron Weston, who chose not to run last year.

A message was left at the home of Hurt, the office of the House Republican Leadership and the Republican Party of Kentucky seeking comment.

Kentucky Democratic Party Communications Director Matt Erwin said that he was unaware of any development concerning Hurt.

Greg Stumbo’s Communications Director Brian Wilkerson gave this statement from the Speaker of the House:

“We don’t know anything official, but we would certainly welcome him into our party and our caucus if that’s his decision”

We’ll let you know if we get any updates on this story, or comments from Hurt, Hoover and the RPK.

UPDATE: Joe Gerth at CJ reports that it’s official, with statement from Hurt:

State Rep. Wade Hurt, a Republican who sailed to victory last year after his Democratic opponent was declared ineligible to run, said Friday that he is switching parties.

Hurt, 44, a longtime GOP activist, said he made the decision because he believes a Democrat can better represent his district in a legislative body controlled by the Democrats.

The 37th District, which Hurt represents, is 62 percent Democratic and 29 percent Republican by registration.

The largely working-class district had been represented by Democrats for generations. Ron Weston held the seat before Hurt, and state Sen. Perry Clark had it for a dozen years before Weston.

KDP swipes at David Williams’ big loss

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March 25, 2011
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Yes, they may be inept, but the past three weeks have been David Williams’ time to shine when it comes to losing hard. Here’s the KDP’s comment on Stumbo outmaneuvering Williams in order to avoid both education cuts and a Medicaid apocalypse:

“I’m proud of each of the 101 legislators, House and Senate, who put Kentucky first on Thursday,” said Dan Logsdon, Chairman and Executive Director of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “Clearly David William’s vision of Kentucky differs greatly from the rest of his fellow legislators, including a majority of his own party. Last night he was sent a clear message that Kentuckians value our children’s education and we don’t believe devastating the state’s health care providers and putting thousands of jobs at risk is good policy. David Williams now knows that, when you take a stand that puts the education, health and livelihoods of Kentuckians at risk, you stand alone.”

*****

“Senator Williams is free to do whatever he’d like but at this point anything he does is an impotent political gesture,” said Logsdon. “The bottom line is that he lost – eight of every ten Republican legislators abandoned him. Senator Williams put forward a plan that would have hurt Kentuckians and then tried to obstruct a compromise because he wasn’t getting his way. Last night we saw that legislators from both parties believe that temper tantrums are no way to govern.”

Pretty much.

But while we’ve avoided the Medicaid apocalypse, Kentucky’s not out in the clear by a long shot. Kentucky Youth Advocates’ statement below:

There is no question that this issue is filled with a series of high risk propositions. For instance, the Governor is clearly on the line to save the millions he projects in expanding managed care. If he fails in that promise, then Kentucky’s children and families will be on the line as policymakers implement broad and deep cuts to needed supports.

Managed care itself is also a high risk proposition. The national experience with managed care is as diverse as the nearly three dozen states involved. In some cases, managed care has produced dramatic savings and improved health outcomes. In other cases, the reverse has occurred. We are especially hopeful that the Governor will ensure that before any managed care option becomes a reality, its impact is carefully explored. As an example, a growing positive for Kentucky’s children is the rise in school-based health services, which is usually built upon close collaboration between schools and the local health department. Yet in the only existing managing care arrangement in Kentucky, school-based health services built around that kind of collaboration are explicitly precluded from happening because of the provider. The Commonwealth cannot afford that kind of unintended consequence for any segment of our Medicaid population.

Perhaps the most dramatic high-stakes proposition we face is the continuing failure of Kentucky’s leaders to address the state’s budgeting strategy. It is a strategy that makes Kentucky lurch from one fiscal crisis to the next. If we are to stop the state fiscal crisis from continuing as an annual rite of spring, then we have to get serious about aligning our tax structure with the realities of the 21st Century. A commitment to an adequate, sustainable and transparent budget system – which includes new revenue — means that we can at last begin to invest in Kentucky’s future rather than investing merely in electioneering. Citizens should demand that commitment animate the Governor’s race and dominate the 2012 General Assembly.

The real long term solution is Jim Wayne’s tax reform bill, but we’ve got a long way to go before our legislature and governor get behind that kind of common sense.

Another bullet dogded: no Tenther bill for Kentucky (UPDATE)

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March 25, 2011
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I mentioned on Tuesday that while there weren’t many great victories for us in the General Assembly this year, we did avoid some major catastrophes, like the David Williams’ sonogram bill and worse-than-Arizona immigration bill.

But we can’t also forget David Williams’ Tenther State Sovereignty bill, which also languished in the House. Some people forget that David Williams is a rabid Tenther, but if you read his campaign website he certainly is:

David and Richie have long records of opposing federal overreach and supporting Kentucky’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As Agriculture Commissioner, Richie Farmer has taken on the Obama Administration’s EPA as it interferes with Kentucky farm families. David Williams strongly opposed the Obama Administration’s health care takeover and asked Attorney General Jack Conway to join a federal lawsuit against it (Conway refused, and now a federal judge has ruled parts of the law unconstitutional). Steve Beshear and Jack Conway have failed to stand up for Kentucky’s rights while the Obama Administration continues to chip away at them with unfunded mandates and anti-growth regulations. For two consecutive legislative sessions, David has promoted a “21st Century Bill of Rights” in the State Senate, which affirms Kentucky’s sovereignty and protects our citizens from federal overreach on key issues (i.e. Obamacare).

The following video is up there, too. The more you know (rainbow)…

UPDATE: And remember what David Williams said at his love fest with Hate Group President Frank Simon: don’t listen to the propaganda, he’s a Tenther!

VIKINGS!

Medicaid fix bill sent to Beshear, but David Williams won’t adjourn (i.e., we’re still paying him)

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March 25, 2011
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So it looks like Greg Stumbo really pulled it off last night, as Williams signed the bill that the House passed, which will now be sent to Beshear for his line item vetoes of education cuts and signature. Thus, Kentucky’s Medicaid Apocalypse will (assumedly) be avoided. Bravo.

Oh, but we are still paying David Williams and Company today. Why?

Each day of the session, which was in its 11th day Thursday, costs taxpayers about $63,500.

A special session cannot officially end unless both chambers agree. “We are not willing to abdicate our ability to override gubernatorial vetoes,” Williams said.

Stumbo said he would urge the Senate to call its members back as soon as possible and officially end the special session in a move called “sine die” to make sure lawmakers will no longer get paid for being in session.

All 138 members of the General Assembly will continue to be paid until the Senate votes to end the session, Stumbo said.

It’s kind of rare that you see Williams getting fooled this badly in the chambers. Maybe he’s too focused on Phil Moffett and his Revolution.

Stumbo pulling out bag of tricks on Medicaid fix

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March 25, 2011
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Well this is certainly interesting:

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House voted 86-1 Thursday evening to agree with a Senate plan that fixes a hole in the Medicaid budget by cutting $101 million from other parts of state government, but only after Gov. Steve Beshear assured Democrats he will veto portions of the bill.

House leaders said the unusual move was necessary to avoid dramatic cuts to Medicaid providers set to go into effect on April 1.

But before the bill can reach the governor’s desk, Senate Republican President David Williams, R-Burkesville, must sign the legislation. It wasn’t immediately clear if he will sign the bill knowing that Beshear intends to use his line-item veto power.

If the House adjourns the special legislative session tonight, the legislature would not be able to override a gubernatorial veto.

If Stumbo pulls this off and Kentucky avoids the looming Medicaid apocalypse, he’s a damned magician.

Stay tuned…

HL: KY Senate committee to vote tomorrow on Medicaid bill; perhaps full Senate that afternoon

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March 23, 2011
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From the Herald Leader Twitter Machine:

David Williams still silent on KY Medicaid fix

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March 23, 2011
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Here’s the first thing you see on David Williams’ campaign site:

I’m still not sure what the “True Leadership” of Williams is, but Kentucky is 8 days away from a Medicaid apocalypse. And it’s been two days since the State House passed their compromise bill to avoid it by a bipartisan 94-4 vote. In a special session costing us $68,000 a day that was only called because Williams sprung his unpopular bill (all 41 House Republicans panned it) days before the end of the session.

And what has been the Senate President’s reaction since the House passed this bipartisan compromise?

Crickets.

And what will happen if the Senate doesn’t agree to the Medicaid compromise by next Friday?

The mother of an 18-year-old who is mentally retarded, autistic and bipolar, Baylon relies on Medicaid for her son’s health care, which includes extensive therapy from a behavioral specialist. Her health care provider recently contacted her to explain that if the Medicaid budget is not fixed by April 1, she will be in jeopardy of losing her son Simon’s coverage.

“This will desperately affect me,” Baylon says. “When change happens in our lives, his life, there are a lot of things that come from it: He becomes more aggressive, his behavior changes, he breaks things. These children, their whole lives are based on routine. Once you put a ringer in that, it means it will affect many people — the children, the families, the caregivers, the schools — it goes on and on.

“(The therapist) has been working with my son for eight years, and we’ve made tremendous progress with her. We could not live without her, honestly.”

And:

Rosemary Smith, who owns eight pharmacies in Central and Eastern Kentucky and a medical equipment company, said her employees and her clients are worried and scared.

“Our employees are frightened,” Smith said. “Our customers are frightened that they may not be able to get their prescriptions filled. They have asked us, ‘What am I going to do?’”

The 35 percent reduction would mean that pharmacies will lose money if they fill most Medicaid prescriptions, pharmacists have said. Previous testimony has shown that on some medications, a pharmacist would lose $64 if they filled the prescription for a Medicaid patient.

“We’re panicked,” Smith said. “We just can’t fill those prescriptions. And our Medicaid clients are our most vulnerable population.”

And:

“Such a drastic reduction would be devastating to providers, as the current Medicaid payments don’t cover the costs incurred by most providers in serving Medicaid beneficiaries,” said the letter, signed by Donald H. Robinson, chairman of the board, and Stephen Williams, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare.

Norton — which includes five hospitals — receives nearly $200 million a year from Medicaid. A 30 percent cut would equate “to nearly $60 million and would be disastrous, inevitably resulting in reduction or elimination of important medical services to the already medically fragile, reductions in workforce and other actions which would negatively effect our community and Commonwealth,” the letter said.

Mike Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, said internal calculations suggest the state’s hospitals would lose $125 million. How that would affect individual hospitals depends on how many Medicaid patients each hospital serves. Those with a higher Medicaid population, such as Norton, would have a much more difficult time managing the loss in cash, Rust said.

I know that the Mitch McConnell School of Obstruction is really good at winning elections, but considering that the health and well being of 800,000 Kentuckians are very much at jeopardy, don’t you think it would be a good idea to maybe do the right thing this time?

The Kentucky Derby is safe this year

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March 22, 2011
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There were few true victories in Frankfort during the regular session. But one of them was the defeat of David Williams’ Worse-than-Arizona Papers Please Immigration Bill. Arizona has found out over the past year that blatant racism isn’t good for business, as they’ve perhaps lost up to $150 million in tourism revenue.

Yes, the Kentucky Derby will not be boycotted this year, so Louisville can breathe a sign of relief.

And the rest of the folks throughout the state that didn’t want David Williams’ Kentucky to look like this:

KY House passes Medicaid fix, ball now in David Williams’ court

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March 21, 2011
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The bill is similar to the previous bill that passed the House, only that it features “triggered cuts” that would take effect if the projected savings from managed care don’t come to fruition by August 15th. And it passed 94-4, with the blessing of House GOP leader Jeff Hoover.

But remember, it’s now in David Williams’ hands. And for all of the Senate GOP talk decrying how long the House took and solving this as quickly as possible, this quote might foreshadow some more stalling in he Senate:

Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he could not predict the bill’s fate in the Senate because the Senate has not yet seen it .

“My reaction to the passage is that it got passed quicker than Sherman went through Georgia,” Stivers said. “As to the substance of the compromise, we have not seen it.”

Lex Vegas odds are currently even that Williams rejects it. Stay tuned…

KY House may vote on Medicaid budget compromise tonight

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March 21, 2011
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WFLP reports:

Democratic leaders of the Kentucky House met for about an hour with Governor Steve Beshear this morning to discuss Medicaid. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the leaders showed the governor their bipartisan plan for balancing the Medicaid budget.

“I think I’m safe in saying that he likes his plan better than he liked ours. But he didn’t totally reject it, so it was a positive meeting,” he says.

Stumbo’s not revealing details of the plan, on which he and House Minority Leader Jeffrey Hoover have been working. Stumbo says the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee may vote on the plan today, and it possibly could get a House floor vote this evening. This is day six of the special session on Medicaid.

If House Democrats and Republicans agree on the compromise, and Beshear gives it his stamp of approval, the ball once again is in David Williams’ court. If he takes the ball and goes home, get ready for chaos in Frankfort.

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