FRANKFORT — The minority parties in the Kentucky House and Senate are upset, accusing the majority parties of treating them shabbily.
In the House, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 54-46, Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, gave an angry floor speech Friday decrying House Democratic leaders' "petty" decision to place each freshman GOP legislator on only one committee and the slow pace at which the House is considering bills.
Each House member typically serves on two or more committees.
"We are leaving here today not voting for one single bill, not addressing one single problem facing Kentucky," Hoover said.
House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, acknowledged a slow start to this winter's session in the House. But the session's first week, in January, was devoted to electing House leaders and deciding committee assignments, Adkins said.
In the future, the House might adopt the Senate's method of deciding such organizational matters the month before the session begins, he said.
In the Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 26-11, with one vacant seat, Democratic leaders accused the GOP leadership of rushing bills through the chamber with little, if any, time for additional input.
This concern by Senate Democratic leaders was a topic of discussion Friday morning by legislative leaders who cloistered themselves inside a closet at the front of the Senate chamber.
Attending the tight-quarters meeting were Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and three Democratic leaders — Minority Leader Ray Jones of Pike ville, Minority Caucus Chairman Gerald Neal of Louis ville and Minority Whip Julian Carroll.
Jones would not provide reporters details of the conversation, but he said Stivers has not responded to a letter Senate Democratic leaders sent him Tuesday outlining their concerns.
They were upset Thursday when the full Senate acted on several bills a few hours after committees had approved them.
They said the Kentucky Constitution requires all bills to be printed for use by members and read in the chamber on three separate days to give time for the public to know what is happening.
Under the state constitution, they said, a bill must be referred to a committee and receive the first-day reading when approved by a committee, and then it can be voted on in the Senate only after two additional days of reading.
Jones was asked during a news conference why he was complaining when the Senate practice of expediting readings of bills has gone on for years.
He said that he's in his first year as Democratic leader. He also indicated that Senate Democrats might consider legal action if the "rush on bills" continues.
The public should be concerned, Jones said. "It's a matter of fairness."
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said the Senate isn't rushing bills.
"This is much ado about nothing," he said. "The Senate has been run like this for years."
Thayer also said that the legislative session this year lasts only 30 days, and eight days of it already have passed.
"We don't have many days left to act," he said.
Stivers said Democrats might want to consider filing their own legislation if they don't think their amendments to bills are given ample time for discussion.
He accused them of "just wanting to participate in guerilla-war politics."