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Legislative Extras

Hoover Reflects on Special Elections, State Budget

With this week’s special elections decided and only 14 days remaining in the legislative session, lawmakers are quickening their cadence as committee agendas get longer and more contentious issues move to the fore.

When the General Assembly convened in January, Republicans were riding high after a sweep in the 2015 elections and defections among House Democrats. The GOP goal of regaining control of the lower chamber after a 95-year hiatus was in sight.

But on Tuesday of this week, the political winds shifted again – at least temporarily. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) admitted disappointment at his party’s ability to win only one of the races to fill four vacant House seats. The results gave Democrats a 53 to 47 majority in the chamber.

“We’re focused on November,” said Hoover, who is the Kentucky House’s longest serving minority leader.

As the last of the vote counts trickled in on Tuesday night, Hoover talked about the GOP strategy going forward to the fall elections.

With the special elections now behind them, lawmakers can give their full attention to deciding how to allocate 20 billion in Kentucky taxpayer dollars to government programs and services.

Over the last few days, House Democrats have tweeted photos of their budget sessions as they huddle around paper-stacked tables in cramped conference rooms. Their social media campaign is a comeback to a video of an empty House chamber that Gov. Matt Bevin posted on his Facebook page on Monday. (Bevin recorded the video at a time when neither chamber was in session.)

GOP Leader Hoover says he hopes House Democrats will hear the minority party’s opinions about the state budget. During our interview Tuesday night, Hoover mentioned that his caucus wants to restore funding to the Family and Youth Service Centers and take a hard look at the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education.

Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for updates throughout the day, and for a recap of the full day’s activities, watch Legislative Update, weeknights at 11 on KET. You can also follow the Kentucky General Assembly on KET’s Legislative Coverage App for your smartphone or tablet.