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Stumbo changes chairpersons of six House committees

FRANKFORT — The heads of six House committees changed Friday as newly elected House Speaker Greg Stumbo put his mark on the chamber.

Among those ousted were three longtime lawmakers who had supported former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, in his failed bid earlier this week to remain the top House Democrat.

Among those three was Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, who lost the most powerful committee post after 14 years as chairman of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

He was replaced by Rep. Rick Rand, a Bedford Democrat.

Two other supporters of Richards — Joni Jenkins and Mary Lou Marzian, both of Louisville — were also replaced.

In total, the new House leadership changed six committee chairmanships while ten remained the same.

The number of women leading committees dropped from five to two.

Moberly, who has been mentioned as a possible future president of Eastern Kentucky University, said his removal as chair of the budget committee is "a natural consequence of the process when you support the losing candidate in a speaker's race."

Moberly said he was "glad" he was replaced by Rand. "I will assist any way I can."

Moberly remains on the budget committee as one of several vice chairs. He was also assigned to the higher education budget review subcommittee and the education, judiciary and energy committees.

Rand, an insurance and real estate agent in Trimble County, was a member of the House from 1991 to 1994. He returned to the chamber in 2003.

Stumbo said Rand is "as capable as anybody" to handle the budget committee.

Rand described Moberly's future role on the committee as "a primary adviser."

"He has been very gracious," Rand said.

Rand added that his panel will start work soon, probably next week, addressing a projected $456 million budget shortfall. Lawmakers return to Frankfort Feb. 3 to begin the last 26 days of the 30-day session.

Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, will replace Marzian on the Labor and Industry Committee.

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, will be the new chair of the Licensing and Occupations Committee, formerly headed by Jenkins.

In other committee chairmanship changes, John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, will be the new chair of the Judiciary Committee. That position was held by Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, who now is in the state Senate.

Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, is the new education chairman. Former chairman Frank Rasche, D-Paducah, left the legislature last year to take a state job.

Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, will head the Banking and Insurance Committee. He replaces Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, who did support Stumbo. Thompson was rewarded with a chairmanship of the primary and secondary education budget review subcommittee.

Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, replaced Don Pasley, D-Winchester, as chair of the powerful budget review transportation subcommittee, which handles the budget for state roads. Overly, a civil engineer, said she asked for the position because of her background. She worked five years for the division of highways in the state Transportation Cabinet.

Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, kept his chairmanship on the budget review subcommittee on human resources despite his support for Richards as speaker.

Several health-advocacy groups had urged Stumbo to retain Lee.

Newly elected Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, the only legislator to announce publicly her support for Stumbo before Tuesday's race, was placed on several key committees, including the budget review subcommittee on higher education and the judiciary and tourism, development and energy committees.

"I'm thrilled. I got what I was hoping for," she said.

Stumbo called all the assignments "an excellent start."

"We have taken care of our senior members, moved younger members into significant positions and made decisions that I feel will improve the process of lawmaking," he said.

Stumbo noted that his opponent, Richards, was assigned to several major committees, including the budget, education and banking and insurance panels.

Richards said he was pleased with his assignments.