State lawmakers from across the South will be in Lexington July 9-13 for a conference that will include speeches by University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and the dynamic political duo of Mary Matalin and James Carville.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, who will preside over the conference in wrapping up his year as its chair, said the 70th annual event is estimated to impact Lexington’s economy by more than $5 million.
It is designed, he said, to allow Southern legislators to share information and find solutions to the challenges in the region.
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The last time the Southern Legislative Conference was held in Kentucky was in 2006 in Louisville. Founded in 1947, the SLC operates under The Council of State Governments and comprises the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said state expense for the conference will be minimal, for items like security. He said Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and he have raised more than $1 million through private contributions to fund the conference.
About 1,200 to 1,400 people are expected to attend. The main events at the Lexington conference will be held in the Civic Center.
They include sessions on topics like agriculture, education, health care, justice reform, transportation and energy.
Calipari is scheduled to speak to the group on July 11. Stivers said it’s always good for the conference to feature “an inspirational, entertaining speaker from the host state.”
Matalin and Carville are to speak July 12. Matalin is a conservative voice, a former assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. She changed her party registration in May from Republican to Libertarian. Carville is a liberal who has worked for the campaigns of President Bill Clinton and the late Kentucky Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. Matalin and Carville have been married since 1993.
Besides the work sessions, the conferees will be able to do some sight-seeing in Central Kentucky. Their agenda include visits to Keeneland, the Kentucky Horse Park, distilleries, horse farms and a technical tour to the Kentucky Center for Applied Research.