FRANKFORT — A "deeply frustrated" state Auditor Adam Edelen accused Senate Republican leaders, especially Majority floor leader Damon Thayer, of blocking for political reasons a cyber-security bill he is pushing.
Edelen, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, said at a news conference Thursday that the bill has nearly unanimous support in the House but that Thayer is preventing it from moving forward.
He said his bill "can't even get a damn hearing" in the Senate.
House Bill 5 would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information within 35 days. Almost 30 groups have endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
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Thayer, at a news conference an hour after Edelen called him "the chief obstructionist" to HB 5, said he finds "it kind of comical that the auditor has become so hysterical about the fact that his bill hasn't moved yet."
He said the bill doesn't have an emergency clause to take effect immediately whenever it becomes law.
It would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, Thayer said, "so it doesn't matter if it passes now or 20 minutes to midnight on April 15," the last day of this year's legislative session.
Thayer, R-Georgetown, said senators need time to study whether the bill might have an unfunded mandate for government agencies to provide information about computer breaches.
Asked why he didn't respond to a letter from Edelen requesting a committee hearing for HB 5, Thayer said, "There's a lot on our plates right now."
Thayer acknowledged that he called the measure "the Adam Edelen for governor bill" recently when speaking at Georgetown College, but he said he did so with a laugh.
Politics has no role in the fate of the bill, he said, but "We're not going to be bullied by Adam Edelen."
Thayer said he doesn't know whether the bill will go forward in the Senate.
"It will rise or fall on its own merits," he said. "There is no rush. This today is much ado about nothing by an auditor who craves public attention."
Thayer might have his own political ambitions.
Asked whether he might run for governor in 2015, Thayer said, "If James Comer runs for governor, I will not run for governor."
And if Comer, the state agriculture commissioner, doesn't run?
"Never say never," Thayer said.