Legislative panel will shun KACo, KLC

state committee won't meet with Groups

jbrammer@herald-leader.comJune 12, 2010 

FRANKFORT — Two legislators said they have decided not to hold meetings of their joint committee this year at the state conferences of the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties.

Senate State and Local Government Chairman Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said Friday that he and House Local Government Chairman Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, think that "under the current circumstances those two organizations should not be rewarded with official meetings of the legislature at their conventions.

"Instead, we will ask them to report to our committee on their implementation of Senate Bill 88 and other steps they are taking to regain the trust of the public."

SB 88, which the state legislature approved earlier this year and Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law, requires more accountability and transparency for the two organizations.

A 2009 audit of the two groups by State Auditor Crit Luallen showed that the two organizations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, meals and entertainment. The executive directors of both groups eventually stepped down.

In April, Attorney General Jack Conway confirmed that his office is investigating the Kentucky League of Cities for possible illegal activity.

Conway spokeswoman Shelley Catharine Johnson said Friday there is "no new information" about the investigation.

"Certainly these organizations should be given time to right the ship," Thayer said, "but the legislature deserves an opportunity to see what that progress is."

Thayer said the two groups probably will be before his and Riggs' committee this fall.

Riggs said he is "anxious to see the two groups succeed. They have been through a lot and are under new operations. It's better they come to us instead of our going to them."

Calls to KACo were not returned.

Terri Johnson, a spokeswoman for KLC, said legislators "are always invited to the conference to learn more about the needs of Kentucky cities and our members will hope to see a number of them again this year."

Thayer said he did not know if he will be attending the KLC conference Sept. 17-19 at Louisville's Hyatt Regency and the KACo conference Nov. 17-19 at Louisville's Galt House Hotel.

"It will be left up to each legislator to decide if he or she wants to go," he said.

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