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2011 General Assembly - trench warfare in Frankfort

There are words that do not go together.

Example Number One: Special Session - in reference to the 2011 called back Kentucky Legislature.  Exactly what was “special”? Was it that the General Assembly adjourned before the “regular session” (I’ll get to that pairing directly) was scheduled to end, leaving a Medicaid tangle behind  - only to be called back like little boys leaving the supper table with cooked carrots still on their plates?

Or was it “special” because once again, the Senate served up a blue plate special of program cuts that the House voted for – explaining they voted for it because they wanted to give the Governor a chance to take the parts they couldn't swallow off their plate?

Could it have been “special” because it was a one of a kind, stand out in the crowd waste of taxpayer money? Bills that have come up in the past – changing the drop out age and the embrace of nuclear waste- failed in one House or another. Not to worry. Defeated bills are prime examples of the perseverance of legislators. Like McArthur's promise to the Filipinos in WWII, they shall return.

Example Number Two: Regular session: – there is nothing “regular” about any meeting of the Kentucky General Assembly. Every session works harder than the one before to be irregular. The regular session is more appropriately referred to as a “general session”. Two generals, one on each end of the Capitol, jockey for position. The general on the first floor resembles the chateau generals of World War One – sending troops into battle from the relative comfort of a behind the lines base of operations.

There is little, if any, coordination between the first floor executive general and the second floor legislative general operating in the trenches over his head.  This applies to both parties – the previous administration led by a Republican general was as inept at getting General Williams to march in step as General Beshear is in getting General Stumbo to march to his cadence.  General Beshear even sent in his most potent weapon, Mrs. Beshear, to get the high school drop out age raised from 16 to 18 to no avail.
The armies of the House and Senate have settled into trench warfare. Each side takes some ground and loses some ground. But in the end, stalemate and stagnation are the order of the day.

Example Number Three: “Conference committee,” the term applied to describe the only time that Senate and House members gather in the same room, presumably to iron out their differences.  The sides don’t confer. They confront. They pontificate, negotiate, excoriate.  Members leave the sessions congratulating themselves on yardage gains for their side.  It is an open question whether they can claim to have conferred with their opponents.

Tea party activists might hurrah the current state if the stalemate didn’t cost tax dollars every day the combatants show up on the field of battle.  Sessions that do nothing cost the same as sessions that make the lives of citizens of the Commonwealth better.

The question that each voter should ask his hometown legislator is how long can the war between the Houses go on while the state sinks farther into poverty? 

Kentucky needs peace to break out. Legislators can then focus their attention on the people outside of the Capitol and not on the people on the other end of the building.

Peace and the Kentucky General Assembly. There are words do not go together.


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