Politics & Government

Senate orders study of controversial proposal to limit attorney general’s powers

Beshear: GOP bill a 'get out of jail free card' for governor

Attorney General Andy Beshear accused Republicans of “a power grab” Wednesday in presenting legislation to give the governor more power in determining what lawsuits Beshear can file.
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Attorney General Andy Beshear accused Republicans of “a power grab” Wednesday in presenting legislation to give the governor more power in determining what lawsuits Beshear can file.

The Kentucky Senate ordered a study Wednesday of a controversial proposal to limit the attorney general’s powers, even as it appeared poised to move forward with a proposal to restrict how the attorney general uses outside attorneys.

A Senate committee was scheduled to hear House Bill 281 sometime late Wednesday and state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, the bill’s sponsor, said he thinks it will pass. The bill would set caps on contracts between the attorney general and outside attorneys when Kentucky seeks help to sue large corporations.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee also ordered studies of five other bills as it added 12 pieces of legislation to House Concurrent Resolution 105, which originally called for a task force to study Kentucky’s adoption policies and procedures. The House must now consider the changes made by the Senate.

In addition to studying Attorney General Andy Beshear’s powers, the omnibus resolution now also calls for an examination of House Bill 454, which would create “essential skills” that public schools must teach, and House Bill 277, which would ease nepotism restrictions in school districts.

HB 281 caused a stir when Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, attempted to amend the bill so that it would strip the Office of Attorney General of its powers and give them to the governor.

That language was never formally added to the bill, but it will be the subject of the legislature’s study.

Beshear and Bevin have been feuding for more than a year, most recently over the legal defense of an anti-abortion law the legislature passed in January.

HB 454, sponsored by House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, includes a rule that would require high school students to meet three of seven “essential skills” laid out by the General Assembly. Shell’s bill passed the House 72-21, but was held up in a Senate committee.

Shell said he was still working to get his bill passed, but that having it in HCR 105 serves as a backup plan so that it would at least be studied in the interim.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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