FRANKFORT – The General Assembly kicked off the 2009 Regular Session early last week, dedicating its first four days to electing our legislative leaders and appointing the various committees for the next two years.
I was honored to have been chosen again to lead the House’s Agriculture and Small Business Committee. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with many members of Kentucky’s farming and small business communities, and look forward in the months ahead to building on the considerable gains we have already made.
As many of you may know, the House voted for a new House Speaker last week: Rep. Greg Stumbo. He is well known in the House, since he was our Majority Floor Leader from 1985 until he was elected Attorney General in 2003. He re-joined our chamber about a year ago following a special election in his district.
He replaces former Speaker Jody Richards, who had held that title since 1995 and who has visited our region often. Both of them are good men who have done whatever they could to help our district and farming in general.
In addition to serving as chairman of the Agriculture and Small Business Committee, I will also serve on the Local Government and the Tourism Development & Energy committees as well as the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. These responsibilities will give me a chance to play an active role in areas that are especially important to our district.
For now, legislators are back home for a three-week interim that was designed to give us time to adjust to our new roles before the actual session work begins.
With that in mind, the halls of the Capitol will still be busy for the rest of the month. That’s because House and Senate leaders met with Governor Steve Beshear late last week and agreed that it would be best if the budget committees could meet and devise a solution for our budget crisis before the session reconvenes on February 3rd.
Late last year, the state’s economists predicted a shortfall of more than $450 million, which has to be resolved by June 30th, since we cannot end a fiscal year with a deficit. That means we need a plan ready soon, so that the state’s agencies will have as much time as possible to adjust.
I want to thank those who have already contacted me about any concerns they may have had about state government. As we prepare for the difficult decisions ahead, that input is needed more than ever.
If you would like to contact me, my Frankfort address is Room 332B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601.
You can also leave a message for me or for any legislator at 800-372-7181. For the deaf or hard of hearing, the number is 800-896-0305. You can also learn more online at www.lrc.ky.gov.
I hope to hear from you soon.