Williams losing his grip?

Could Senate President David Williams be losing his stranglehold on the throat of the Kentucky General Assembly?

After a Kentucky Retirement Systems actuary shot down most of Williams’ claims about his pension proposal during a video conference with the House State Government Committee Monday morning, House Democrats seem even more adamant about letting a blue ribbon task force do its work before the legislature addresses state pension plans’ unfunded liability problem.

Then, during an afternoon meeting of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly presented a committee substitute to House Bill 400.

Among other things, the committee sub included the provisions of House Bill 184, the controversial measure that would allow the free conference committee on the budget to permanently enact or repeal any law it desires. That would effectively make all lawmakers who are not on the conference committee irrelevant in the legislative process.

However, the vote to send the revised HB 400 to the floor with a recommendation of approval failed for lack of the necessary number of votes. Six committee members voted for the measure, five voted against it and five abstained.

Among those voting against the bill were Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, and Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Spring. And two Republicans — Sens. Vernie McGaha of Russell Springs and Gary Tapp of Waddy — passed. Sen. Bob Leeper, an independent who usually votes with the Republicans, also passed.

Later in that afternoon, Senate A&R voted 14-2 to approve a different committee sub for HB 400, one that did not contain the provisions of HB 184.

I can’t recall the last time (if ever) during the Williams era that Senate Republicans were instrumental in stymieing the wishes of their leadership.

Go to Kentucky.com to respond to columnist Larry Dale Keeling.