Kentucky voices: Time to change sad state of legislative affairs

Rep. Jeff Hoover, 
R-Jamestown, serves as the House
Republican floor leader.
Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, serves as the House Republican floor leader.

FRANKFORT — Disappointing. Sad. These are strong words that are being used to describe the ending of the 2012 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, and what predicated last week's special session. One of my colleagues was quoted as saying this was not our finest hour. That may have been the grossest understatement of the year.

We, as legislators, are elected to go to Frankfort and conduct the business of the people. Rather, it seems time and again as though we get bogged down by the political gamesmanship of a few who evidently cannot set aside their political and personal differences for the good of the commonwealth. Simply put, this has to stop.

I ask you to stop and think for a moment. Imagine a legislature that does not have last-minute, closed-door meetings to forge compromises, but rather is open and transparent with its dealings, giving the people of Kentucky ample opportunity to share their opinions.

Imagine a legislature that does not delay on the most important matters until the waning days of the session, but instead takes up issues like the budget as early as possible, and includes all legislators in the process.

Imagine a legislature that fully recognizes that Kentucky all too often ranks near the bottom in all things good and near the top in all things bad, and can set aside petty partisan differences to change that.

The sad state of affairs is these common-sense approaches to government are the views of many in the Kentucky General Assembly. Yet, we find once again that the leadership of the legislative branch has failed. They have failed to serve as the statesmen we need. They have failed their colleagues. And, most importantly, they have failed Kentucky.

Legislation dealing with tax reform, which everyone agrees is desperately needed, and legislation proposing a nonpartisan redistricting commission, could not even receive a hearing in committee. How can solutions to Kentucky's problems be found if legislative leaders are unwilling to even begin the debate?

This is the same House leadership that two years ago, during an economic recession, voted to increase Kentucky's debt $1.1 billion to the state's highest level in history, in addition to imposing $400 million in new taxes on small businesses.

Our commonwealth is in great peril. The culture of greed, self-interest and lack of concern will doom us if we do not change direction immediately.

It has been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over, yet expect different results. That statement has direct implications to the Kentucky General Assembly.

If we continue to let the same select few control the process, then we are bordering on insanity. I, for one, do not wish to be a part of that and will be working in the next few months to put Republicans in charge of the House for the first time in nearly 90 years.

If that occurs, you will find leaders willing to change the status quo and work toward one goal: improving the Commonwealth of Kentucky for future generations.