FRANKFORT — Legislative leaders unanimously hired David Byerman of Las Vegas on Wednesday to head the troubled Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.
Byerman, who was secretary of the Nevada Senate for four years, will start his Kentucky job Oct. 1 at an annual salary of $135,000 under a two-year contract. He will be eligible for a 5 percent raise after the first six months of employment.
Byerman, who turned 44 Wednesday, also is to receive a one-time payment of $20,000 for moving and living expenses. He must submit receipts for the expenses within nine months.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers said this marks the first time an LRC director has been hired with a time-limit contract.
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They said two years should be sufficient time to see whether Byerman can address the problems in the agency of about 400 employees, who provide research and support for state lawmakers.
Stivers, R-Manchester, said it might take several years to fix the LRC.
Byerman, who was not present at Wednesday's meeting of legislative leaders, replaces Marcia Seiler, who retired from the nonpartisan job July 31 after holding it for about two years. Her base salary was $137,720 a year.
Seiler was hired in October 2013, when the Kentucky General Assembly was in the throes of a sexual harassment scandal. She replaced Robert Sherman, who resigned after his office had investigated two female staffers' complaints of sexual harassment by a Western Kentucky lawmaker.
In January, legislative leaders released a 9-month-old performance audit of the LRC by the National Conference of State Legislatures. That audit said the bureaucracy that runs Kentucky's $54 million-a-year legislative branch is dysfunctional and suffers from a lack of communication, seemingly arbitrary salaries and special treatment for employees who are favored by powerful bosses.
Several deputy director positions in the LRC are vacant, and Byerman will fill those jobs, Stivers said.
Stivers and Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the search committee for a new director initially reached a consensus that it would be best to hire someone from out of state. About 40 people, including some internal candidates, applied for the job.
Stivers called Byerman an accomplished parliamentarian. Stumbo said he was at first concerned that Byerman does not have a legal degree but soon recognized his qualifications.
Stumbo said Byerman was highly recommended by Democratic and Republican political leaders in Nevada.
As secretary of the state Senate in Nevada from August 2010 until last November, Byerman was the chamber's chief executive officer and parliamentarian. He was responsible for overseeing 90 employees and managing a $21.5 million two-year budget in the nonpartisan position. His base pay in Nevada last year was $108,061.
Before that, Byerman was the U.S. Census Bureau's chief government liaison for Nevada. He served twice in that role, from 1999 to 2000 and 2008 to 2010.
Byerman also has been director of communications for MGM Mirage, a Fortune 500 company; president of Byerman Solutions Group; chief of program development for the Nevada Department of Transportation; executive assistant to Nevada Gov. Bob Miller; and executive director for Philadelphia Clean Cities Inc.
Byerman earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands in California with a double major in political science and history.
He earned a master's degree in governmental administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Byerman and his wife, Caroline, and have two children: Amanda, 15, and Will, 13.