The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly is starting its 60-day budget session with a laundry list of issues to work out. The highlights are obvious: gambling, the budget, and redrawing congressional districts. Lawmakers must also figure out how to shore up the state's unemployment insurance and deal with Medicaid managed care problems. And there are always pet projects, like the debate over pseudophedrine, various constitutional amendments and more.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has a solution for the starting the session and avoiding gridlock: don’t argue over things that won’t be solved. "I think that we would all be better served if we find things we can agree upon and try and keep our fights to a very minimum. I think that’s what the people of Kentucky and the people of America wants us to do," he says.
The speaker says that's what he plans to do as well and hopes to leave the gridlock to lawmakers in Washington D.C. Stumbo leads the Democratic-controlled House, but he isn't the only one who hopes to accomplish a lot this session.Republican Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, is trying to draw attention to Kentucky’s biggest problems as well. After gaveling in the Senate for its first day, Williams told reporters that the commonwealth has enough problems to worry about without taking on expanded gambling, a pet project of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Williams says it’s time for state leaders to dig in and solve real problems, citing Medicaid, education funding and the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville. "I think that this session has a lot of potential, but we’re going to have to get to work soon on many of these issues and we’re going to have to have frank, candid discussions," he says. It’s yet to be seen what issues will actually gain traction during this legislative session. But there are two for sure bets from the first day forward: a budget and new redistricting maps.