By RONNIE ELLIS
Be careful what you wish for,
my mother used to tell me. I
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
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
those old familiar
facing our commonwealth
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI
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