Kentucky Political News Headlines

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Special Session Update - Day 1

And so it begins...

The Special Session got underway in Frankfort Monday with both the House and Senate convening this afternoon. You will recall this Special Session was called by Governor Beshear when legislative leaders could not come to an agreement on how to solve a $166.5 million deficit in Medicaid before the 2011 Regular Session ended last Wednesday.

The Politics

Not surprisingly, the two sides, House Democrats with Governor Beshear versus Senate Republicans, have not had much change in their positions since last Wednesday. If anything the politics of the situation have intensified and further entrenched each side.

Today those politics were on display as Governor Beshear started a two-day barnstorming tour to sell his plan and Senate President David Williams challenged Beshear to a statewide debate on the issue. Here is an example of some of the media coverage:

Today's Legislative Actions

The House came in today and got the process started by filing HB 1, which appears identical to HB 305 from the Regular Session, which moves $166.5 million from FY 2012 to FY 2011 to balance the Medicaid budget. The House Minority Leader filed HB 3, which is similar to HB 1 except it only moves $100 million. House Bill 2 dealing with raising the drop out age was also filed today.

HB 1 & 2 were both given their first readings and sent to their respective committees, which are scheduled to meet and consider the bills tomorrow morning with the idea that they would be ready for consideration by the full House on Wednesday. House Education will meet @ 8:30 a.m. to take up HB 2, and House A&R will meet at 10:00 to take up HB 1 the budget bill. Beyond considering legislation, these committees along with the Judiciary Committee will be taking testimony regarding the impact of the proposed Senate Budget cuts.

In the Senate, there were also three bills filed: SB 1, dealing with the post-secondary education maintenance of effort issue; SB 2, restricting legislative pay during special sessions; and SB 3, the Senate plan for dealing with the Medicaid budget essentially across the board cuts 0.316 percent in the last quarter of FY 2011 and by 1.58 percent in FY 2012, including .65 percent cut for SEEK in FY 2012.

The fate of all three bills are unclear, because SB 1 and SB 3 are appropriations bills which must start in the House and SB 2 deals with an issue not on the special session agenda. No committee meetings were scheduled as of this writing.