Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

March 1, 2013

So far, so bad at General Assembly

FRANKFORT — Be careful what you wish for,

my mother used to tell me. I

should’ve listened.

Two months ago I wrote a column,

only partly tongue in cheek,

saying I was actually looking forward

to the 2013 General Assembly.

Lord, what was I thinking?

The 22nd day of the 30-day session

concluded Friday, and so far as

I can see, not much of significance

has happened. Bills which looked

like sure bets — transparency from

special taxing districts; a “framework”

for growing hemp; and a bill

to let military personnel stationed

overseas vote by email— all seem

in various degrees of trouble.

What lawmakers on both sides

called “the single biggest issue facing

this General Assembly,” pension

reform, appears to be a hopeless

mess, mired in gridlock.

We started out listening to lawmakers

from both sides and the governor

talk about a new tone, a new

dialogue, a new atmosphere where

the two parties could discuss major

issues, even those about which they

disagree, in civil terms.

Now one side is trying to make

the other responsible for what many

believe is an inevitable special session

while the other side says the

first will bankrupt the state while violating

the constitution. Hemp has

gone up in the smoke of “politics”

and Secretary of State Alison

Grimes wonders if politics is affecting

the military voting bill.

Almost daily we’re told the House

has a plan for redrawing its legislative

districts; then later the same day

we’re told that map is still evolving

but should be ready tomorrow or

Monday.

As I predicted two months ago,

we have bills to honor people and to

name things for them.We have a

nullification bill to stand up to

Barack Obama and his nefarious

“big daddy government;” we’re

fighting over

“Obamacare” and

those old familiar

standards: abortion

and charter

schools.

Real problems

facing our commonwealth

and its

people are ignored.

Stop by press

row on the second

floor of the Capitol

and listen to

the whining reporters.

They’re exhausted, they’re

snapping at editors and sometimes at

each other.We complain that we’ve

never seen such a frenetic pace in a

“short session,” then we realize at

the end of each day, despite back-toback-

to-back committee meetings,

nothing much really happened.

Small wonder we jump at any

chance to ask if Ashley Judd will

challenge Mitch McConnell.

(Wouldn’t you rather cover Ashley

than Rocky or Damon?)

In the past, reporters would suggest

that behind the scenes, a deal

was being cut and DavidWilliams or

Greg Stumbo would at the end pull a

rabbit out of the hat. This time,

they’re wondering if Stumbo and

Williams’ successor, Robert Stivers,

may have run out of rabbits. (At

least soon they won’t have coyotes

to blame.)

Gov. Steve Beshear made an appearance

alongside Stumbo and

Stivers to extol the success of a bill

to crack down on prescription pain

pill abuse. But, as he has in recent

years, Beshear seems otherwise unengaged.

The sense is he’s waiting

for everything to fall apart and try to

secure pension and tax reform packaged

together in a special session.

But he hasn’t sold tax reform to

the public and he hasn’t persuaded

the Republican Senate. Stivers still

says, “We don’t have a revenue

problem, we have a spending problem.”

As Yogi Berra famously said: “It’s

like deja vu all over again.”

I wish I hadn’t wished for what I

now wish would go away.

I ended that column two months

ago asking if anyone could suggest a

good counseling service. I’m still

open to suggestions.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News

Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach

him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI

News Service stories on Twitter at

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