By Ronnie Ellis
CNHI News Service
Republican Senate Caucus Chair Dan Seum Friday announced new committee chairs – but two of the 23 Republican senators’ names are missing from the list.
Albert Robinson of London, who previously served in the state Senate from 1994 to 2004 and at one time chaired the State Government Committee, is not among those given committee chairs. Neither is Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield who previously served as Republican Whip.
Meanwhile, independent Bob Leeper of Paducah, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Bob Stivers for Senate President, retains the chair of the powerful Appropriations and Revenue Committee, as Stivers said he would after the vote for President.
Leadership – Stivers, Senate Pro Tem Katie Kratz Stine, Seum, Floor Leader Damon Thayer and Caucus Chair Brandon Smith – don’t typically chair committees.
Sen. David Givens of Greensburg was named Vice Chair of the A&R Committee but is no longer chair of the Agriculture Committee which will be chaired by Sen. Paul Hornback. Givens lost a close race to Sen. Damon Thayer for Majority Floor Leader last week.
“In this instance, Bob is an independent who has caucused with us,” Stivers said. “We felt it was important to have a designated vice chair and to have a Republican in that position. Not that in any it’s a slight to Bob but because David Givens is a very talented member.”
Stivers said some Republican senators would have preferred a Republican hold the A&R chair and said he had attempted to get Leeper, who once was registered as a Republican, to re-register as one but he declined.
Thayer’s selection as Floor Leader created a potential opening for Robinson to regain his committee chair, something he said this week he wanted.
“I did apply for it,” Robinson said Wednesday when asked if he was seeking to reclaim the State Government Committee chair. Robinson’s previous tenure as chair was marked by controversy over an amendment he sponsored to a pension bill to sweeten lawmakers’ own pensions.
Stivers said Friday Robinson was just elected and leadership looked at all the senators’ qualifications and “made a unanimous type of decision for the respective chairs.”
He said newly elected Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville was named Judiciary Chair “because he’s a lawyer.” Some had thought Sara Beth Gregory, an attorney who is the Republican candidate in the special election for the 16th District might get the Judiciary chair.
But Gregory, who served on the House Judiciary Committee, must first win the election over Democrat Bill Conn. And Stivers said Gregory did not ask to be Judiciary Chair. Instead, if she is elected, Gregory will chair the Government Contract Review Committee.
Stivers said Gibson specifically said he did not want to chair a committee.
Other chairs named Friday are Tom Buford, Banking and Insurance; Alice Forgy Kerr, Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor; Mike Wilson, Education; Julie Denton, Health and Welfare; John Schickel, Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations; Jared Carpenter, Natural Resources and Energy; Joe Bowen, State and Local Government; Jimmy Higdon, Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection; Bowen, Administrative Regulations Review; Stan Humprhies, Capital Advisory Board; Chris Girdler, Capital Projects and Bond Oversight; Givens, Medicaid Oversight and Advisory; Chris McDaniel, Program Review and Investigations; and Hornback, Tobacco Settlement Fund Oversight.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.