Politics & Government

Legislator files bill requiring state officials to visit Pike, Fulton counties

FRANKFORT — The hundreds of political appointees who help run Kentucky would not get paid until they first got out of the capital and traveled the state, under a bill filed this week.

House Bill 116 would prohibit people from accepting a paid appointment from the governor unless they could provide a form signed by the clerks of Fulton and Pike counties, 447 miles apart at the far ends of the state, attesting to a personal visit.

The trips would be made on the appointees' own time, at their own expense.

"It is to make a point, but I'm serious about it," said the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray.

Too many political appointees live in Louisville or Lexington and commute to work in Frankfort, and they are ignorant of the rest of the state's geography and culture, Imes said.

"We've had people reviewing surface-mine permits in Frankfort and they had never been to a coalfield in Eastern Kentucky. We've had people deciding water issues for Western Kentucky who had never been anywhere near Paducah," said Imes, who was a deputy secretary for natural resources under Gov. John Y. Brown.

The rule would cover the governor's executive staff, cabinet secretaries, department heads, policy advisers, commission members and others.

But it might not pass anytime soon. House State Government Chairman Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said he's skeptical about the proposal, which is assigned to his committee.

"I've only glanced at it," Yonts said. "I couldn't really figure out what he was trying to do. It may be more of a manifesto than a substantive bill."