New Legislators Enthusiastic After First Week
By Bill Hughes
FRANKFORT, KY - The first week of the new legislative session is over in Frankfort, and two men are new to the environment, but are encouraged by what they've seen so far.
Freshman Representative Gerald Watkins, who was elected from the 3rd District in Paducah, said he had a good time, and it was much more than he expected it to be. He said his fellow legislators have been very supportive of him, and he believes the session will be very productive.
Watkins said, "Everyone, both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat leadership, the Governor, has pledged a spirit of cooperation, and we're putting partisan politics aside to do the people's business, and I think we're going to have a very productive session. We've got a new tone in Frankfort, and it's very exciting."
Freshman Senator Stan Humphries of Cadiz said seeing the initial camaraderie among members of the House and Senate has reassured him that some tough tasks might get done in a bi-partisan way. One of their priorities is pension reform.
"I think everyone in my district is certainly interested in what's going on with pension reform, and trying to ensure that those who are employees - state employees, county employees - maintain and get their due retirement, their due pension that they signed on for, but then on the other hand knowing that there's a lot of changes that need to be made, as we go forward into the future," Humphries said.
Watkins said he agrees that pension reform is issue #1, with two more big jobs on the horizon.
"Look at the tax code and modernize it to make it more business friendly, that's going to be a big job, and then of course we've got to do re-districting before next year. We need to get that done, and then there will be some other things - some adjustments to the pill mill bill - but those are the three big issues that are going to have to be tackled, " Watkins said.
Humphries has been named as Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, Vice-Chair of the State and Local Government Committee, and a member of the Agriculture Committee and Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Watkins said he's gotten the committee appointments he wanted: Vice Chairman of the Education Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee, the State Government Committee, and the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Post-Secondary Education.
Humphries also had the opportunity to visit and meet with representatives from Murray State University about some bond issues that might help with some needed improvements on their campus.
Constituents who have questions or comments about anything being considered in the legislature can call the legislative message line at 800-372-7181. Operators will determine where you live and direct comments to lawmakers in your district.