Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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April 12, 2006

Lawmakers go to the bitter end

Time ticking away on remaining bills

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Rep. Frank Rasche, D-Paducah, played “My Old Kentucky Home” on his harmonica.

Sen. Dan Kelly, Republican floor leader from Springfield, played “Wildwood Flower” on guitar, the notes drifting from the closed door of his office into the Capitol hallways.

Other legislators milled about the House chamber or in offices or in the hallways, asking what was happening, when would they be able to go home, ending the 60-day biennial regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. As many as 50 lobbyists gathered on steps to the third floor, and some of them hastily went into the speaker’s offices just off the House chamber.

For the rank and file members of the General Assembly, nothing was happening on the final day of the 2006 session, neither chamber in session while leaders tried to reach compromise on tax relief for small businesses hit by last year’s tax modernization.

At 8:45 p.m. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, walked into the office of Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. About 15 minutes, Bobby Sherman, executive director of the Legislative Research, entered, and left again a few minutes later.

“It’s about to get mean,” one lawmaker said as he walked by.

Gross Clay Lindsay, D-Henderson, a member of the House for more than 30 years, laughed and said, “It reminds me of the olden days.”

When Williams left Richards’ office around 9:15, he was asked if the two sides were close to an agreement that would finally bring the session to a close.

“We’re getting close to 12,” Williams said, smiling and referring to midnight when under the provisions of the state constitution the 60th and last day of the session would end – bills passed or not.

At 9:30, Richards entered the House chamber and began small group discussions with four or five lawmakers at a time, walking back and forth. Meanwhile, word spread that an abortion measure was also about to be offered at the last minute.

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