Larry Keeling: Whole lotta sessions could be coming in '13; well, isn't that special?

Herald-leader columnistDecember 2, 2012 

FRANKFORT — This and that as the Era of Not-So-Bad Feelings comes to town:

Punch the reset button. Wipe the slate clean. All rise and join in singing Kumbaya. The kinder, gentler days are here.

Yeah, right. The somewhat quieter, somewhat less temperamental days may be here. But kinder and gentler? Not gonna happen. A miracle of that magnitude would require more of a mass departure from the Kentucky General Assembly than one guy's exit, even if he was a major player.

Enough egos, enough ambitions, enough personal animosities, enough clashing agendas remain to assure the political games and gamesmanship will continue as ever when state lawmakers hold their 2013 reunion.

Getting real tax reform done anytime will be extremely difficult. Getting it done in an odd-year regular session increases the level of difficulty by about 20 percent because it takes a super majority (60 votes in the House, 23 in the Senate) to pass a revenue measure in an odd-year regular session. In a special session (or an even-year regular session), it takes just 51 House votes and 20 Senate votes. For anyone who wants real tax reform, the difference in votes needed for passage argues strongly in favor of dealing with the issue in a special session later in 2013 rather than taking it up in the regular session.

Delaying it would also give a governor who is inclined to do so time to stump the state building support for whatever plan his blue ribbon panel proposes. But stumping the state on behalf of his initiatives hasn't been one of Gov. Steve Beshear's stronger points, and I don't expect him to change now.

So, I'll just rest my argument on the numbers.

Republicans failed to achieve their "12 in '12" goal of taking over the state House this year, but the party's sweep of the four seats vacated by retiring Democrats in Republican-trending parts of the state suggests it's just a matter of time.

When the House convenes in January, four Democratic representatives from areas of the state that are getting redder by the moment will be in their 70s; five more will be in their 60s. I'm not sure House Democrats can redistrict themselves out of this dilemma.

Speaking of redistricting, I might agree with House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover's proposal to put it aside for a special session later in 2013 if not for the tax reform issue.

No matter when redistricting gets done or what the new districts look like, some incumbents in each chamber will get the shaft. That's a given.

If they feel this unpleasant sensation early in the regular session, those somewhat quieter, somewhat less temperamental days could disappear in a flash, taking votes on important issues such as pension reform with them. If they feel it in a special session devoted solely to redistricting, the collateral damage doesn't include votes on important issues — not immediately at least.

Still, extraordinary sessions of the General Assembly just won't seem so extraordinary if we start having more than one a year. And tax reform is by far the most important issue of the two, the one deserving a 2013 extraordinary session.

(For newcomers, the first sentence of the previous paragraph was intentionally facetious. The second was seriously serious.)

Love Ashley Judd. Fine actress. Bright. Articulate. Speaks her mind on issues. On the good side of issues as far as I'm concerned. Ardent member of Big Blue Nation. What's not to love?

However, progressive Democrats dreaming of a Judd-Mitch McConnell Senate matchup in 2014 must have missed the memo about the November election results in Kentucky. This state is going so red in federal elections progressive and/or liberal candidates need not apply outside of Jefferson County.

Reach Larry Dale Keeling at lkeeling@herald-leader.com.

This is an endnote here an dhdjbfv jhbdvf djfbvjd vhbdfjv jdbvf jdfjbvh jvfjkdbf Larry Keeling is a Herald-Leader columnist. Reach him at lkeeling@herald-leader.com

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