FRANKFORT — Kentucky legislative leaders formed a six-member search committee Wednesday to look for a new director of the troubled Legislative Research Commission, saying they hope to hire a new leader by November.
The new director would work with legislative leaders to overhaul the bureaucracy that serves lawmakers, said House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers.
The LRC, which employs nearly 400 people, was described as a dysfunctional workplace in a report produced in April 2014 by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Employee morale was low across the agency because jobs and raises were awarded to a favored few in seemingly arbitrary fashion by the LRC'S then-director, Bobby Sherman, auditors said in the report. LRC managers seldom communicated with each other, and employees were not told what was expected of them or how they could advance, auditors said.
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Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Stivers, R-Manchester, said they hope the new director is on the job by early November.
On a unanimous vote Wednesday, legislative leaders approved a motion by Stumbo to form a search committee made up of the Senate president, House speaker, minority party floor leaders of the House and Senate and one female or minority Senate member and one female or minority House member to be selected by Stivers and Stumbo.
The six members will have the authority to hire an independent search consultant at a cost not to exceed $25,000.
The current LRC acting director, Marcia Seiler, and any current LRC employee will be considered if they apply, Stumbo said in his motion.
The search committee plans to recommend three candidates for legislative leaders to choose from before their September meeting. If candidates haven't been selected by then, the committee will brief leaders on their progress.
Seiler has been working from home in recent weeks, recuperating from bone fractures sustained in a bicycle accident, Stivers said. She has been receiving partial pay, he said.
Asked Wednesday in an email if she is interested in becoming full-time LRC director, Seiler said "I'm focusing on recovering from the accident and haven't made any decisions. I look forward to getting back on my feet and in the office soon."
Seiler became acting director in October 2013. She had been director of the legislature's Office of Education Accountability.
Sherman resigned from the post in September 2013 after he said his office investigated two female staffers' complaints of sexual harassment by a Western Kentucky lawmaker.
Those complaints and that of another staffer are ongoing in litigation.
Legislative leaders have been criticized for not acting more quickly on the audit detailing managerial problems in the LRC.
Stivers said in February that he wanted to hear more information from consultants on how Kentucky should professionally staff its legislative branch, with comparisons to other states.
He blamed the Democratic-led House for not joining the Republican-led Senate in a joint call for additional information.
Stivers made public Wednesday a letter he sent May 13 to the NCSL, asking for more information on its audit. He also provided an April 22 letter from Stumbo, saying he did not object to Stivers' request for more information.
Among other things, Stivers requested leadership staff organizational charts from other legislative branches in the nation; copies of personnel manuals and policies which were reviewed and compared to Kentucky; and examples of how executive committees in other state legislatures interact with their chief executive officer and conduct their public meetings.
Stivers said he has not received a response from the NCSL.