Williams asks judge to reconsider

FRANKFORT — Senate President David Williams is asking a Franklin circuit judge to reconsider his order that the legislature's six-year road construction plan is invalid because lawmakers failed to give it to the governor on time.

Attorneys for Williams, R-Burkesville, filed a motion for reconsideration Wednesday in Judge Phillip Shepherd's July 31 ruling that the General Assembly's 2008 highway construction bill is void.

Williams asked the court to rule that lawmakers may present enacted legislation to the governor after they officially adjourn and that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had only until midnight April 26 to veto the highway plan. Beshear vetoed it April 28.

Williams also asked the court to rule on whether the Beshear administration can spend money on Kentucky roads in the absence of the legislation, House Bill 79. Williams argues it cannot.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Beshear filed documents in support of the governor's authority to spend about $3.2 billion for highways.

The judge allowed both sides to file arguments asking him to reconsider his order that the bill was “null and void” because he had ruled on the issue without receiving written briefs from them.

The judge has ruled that the state constitution required the legislature to present the bill to the governor for his consideration before midnight April 15, even if that means they must “nail the legislation to the governor's door.”

Shepherd said it is “undisputed” that the bill was not presented to the governor until April 16, after the legislature's power to conduct legislative business had ended.

The ruling came after Williams challenged Beshear's veto in court. He also questioned Beshear's authority to implement his own road-building plan.

Beshear, in a countersuit, asked the court to dismiss Williams' case, in part because the road plan passed the legislature after midnight April 16.

It is not clear how Shepherd's ruling would affect 11 other bills and five resolutions the legislature passed after it “stopped the clock” just before midnight April 15 to continue business into April 16.