April 18, 2006

Short News: In the shadow of the shoes

Of every regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly I’ve covered since 1996, the 2006 session — which adjourned last Wednesday — was among the better ones.Kentucky Resources Council Director Tom FitzGerald, by contrast, called it “a half-shoe session.” This comes from an environmentalist, lawyer and lobbyist who’s known for his distressed shoes.In citing the good, bad and ugly, FitzGerald wrote: “The enactment of a bill that will deregulate local telephone services without accountability (HB 337) overshadowed the good accomplished in the area of environmental and public protection this session, and cast a pall over what would otherwise have been a good session.” He added, “HB 337 is perhaps the most irresponsible bill that KRC has seen since we began actively lobbying ... in 1984.”If HB 337 is such a stinker, then shame on Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville) and Scott Brinkman (R-Louisville) for pushing it.On another front, Dana Seum Stephenson’s court-ordered resignation afflicted the Senate Republican leadership and prompted President David Williams (R-Burkesville) to squander time, effort and good will seeking revenge on the judicial branch.He was doing it again amid the session’s last week when Sen. Ernesto Scorsone (D-Lexington) told the Senate that a student had been expelled from the University of the Cumberlands (in Williams’ district) for declaring his homosexuality on MySpace.com. Williams visited the school Tuesday to officially announce it would receive $11 million to start a pharmacy school — even though its policy of bigotry would preclude its accreditation. Expect another court battle — with Williams on the losing side.The session ended with a calamity late Wednesday night (Day 60 of 60), when Rep. Harry Moberly (D-Richmond), beloved chairman of the House budget committee, suffered a heart attack.While Moberly recovered, there was more upheaval the next day when House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) was named a defendant in a multi-million-dollar civil suit filed in Federal District Court in Bowling Green.BY STEVE SHAWleo@leoweekly.com