Whoâ€™s running for governor and whoâ€™s running from the governor? These questions top this weekâ€™s news from Frankfort. Sources close to former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry say heâ€™s taking the temperature of fundraising prospects and, amid an apparent vacuum of Democrat aspirants, is behaving increasingly like a candidate. Henry supporters believe the residual resentment and collateral damage of former Gov. Paul Pattonâ€™s extramarital affair have sufficiently settled to give Pattonâ€™s second-in-command a chance. Others fear Dr. Henryâ€™s Medicaid over-billings (later reimbursed) tainted him enough to be perceived as damaged goods by a scandal-weary electorate. Both House Speaker Jody Richards and Attorney General Greg Stumbo have said they wonâ€™t seek the Democratic nomination in next yearâ€™s gubernatorial race. Thereâ€™s speculation that Sen. Julian Carroll may seek to return to the governorâ€™s mansion, and the prospective candidacy of State Auditor Crit Luallen, formerly Pattonâ€™s chief of staff, inspires enthusiasm among Democrats as she continues her recovery from colon cancer.
House Democrats say the governorâ€™s double-barreled assault on labor (prevailing wage, right to work) is dead on arrival. On KETâ€™s â€œKentucky Tonightâ€ Monday, House Budget Committee Chairman Harry Moberly said, â€œNeither of those things will be in the final House budget and they wonâ€™t be in the Senate budget. I think that was just the governor appealing to his base, maybe attempting to raise some money.â€ Senate Budget Committee Chairman Charlie Borders, a Republican who represents a labor-rich district, said, â€œAs far as bringing both issues, Iâ€™m afraid that was such a threat to the labor people that they really felt like, â€˜Are they out to get us?â€™ So I wish weâ€™d only dealt with the prevailing wage and left the right to work alone.â€
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, never one to shy away from controversy, is sponsoring two bold bills. House Bill 43 is a constitutional amendment that allows state representatives to serve four-year instead of two-year terms; House Bill 103 increases the 26-cent tobacco surtax to 71 cents per pack. The latter measure is intended to discourage smoking.