Kentucky Club for Growth
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November 30, 2011

The Races 2012: House 53 - Kirby Copas Files to Replace Commissioner-Elect James Comer

House District 53, which currently consists of Cumberland, Green, Metcalfe and Monroe counties, has been represented since 2001 by Agriculture Commissioner-elect James Comer. Comer was a fair conservative in the House, ranking #4 on our 2010 Scorecard with a score of 71%.

Now he has been elected as the Commissioner of Agriculture, leaving an open seat in the 53rd House district.

The district has been solidly conservative in the past, but needs to gain population in redistricting along with many of its neighbors. Because of the open seat, the 53rd House district could look substantially different for the 2012 election.

That prospect has not deterred Republican Kirby Copas from filing for the seat. There is no date yet for a special election to fill Comer's seat, but it seems that Mr. Copas would like to stand for that election as well.

Ironically, the Republican Copas is a cousin to liberal Democratic Louisville Rep. Charles Miller, according to his Facebook Page.

November 29, 2011

The Races 2012: House 24 - Mills Files

Rep. Terry Mills has filed for reelection in the 24th House District, which currently consists of Casey and Marion counties and part of Pulaski. While redistricting may change the district, it does not need to be significantly altered because of population.

Mills was elected in a special election in 2010 and reelected in the general election the same year.

While he hasn't been in office long, he has already voted twice for over $180 million in tax increases (RS10 HB 290, RS10 HB 530) and $26 million in new health insurance mandates! (RS10 HB 159)

The Races 2012: Prologue

Currently, the filing deadline for the 2012 elections is January 31, 2012 at 4:00 PM Eastern. We'll be following the decisions and policy statements candidates make to keep citizens informed and give them the opportunity to hold their representatives accountable.

As always, our legislative scorecard is a great resource to see how your representative is standing up for economic freedom.

Will Senate Republicans Push Williams Aside for the Exact Same Leadership?

CN2 Politics recently interviewed Sen. Tom Jensen and pointed out that two media pundits had mentioned him as a potential replacement for Sen David Williams.

Jensen has been mentioned as a potential successor as Senate president by political observers -- including former Courier-Journal political reporter Al Cross and conservative columnist John David Dyche at recent media panel.

In the interview, Sen. Jensen would not state his support for Sen. Williams remaining as President (although there is no election until 2013).

We don't necessarily agree that Sen. Williams should be replaced. After all, he has outlined a serious and positive set of proposals for Kentucky's future, and indicated in his concession speech that he intended to pursue them.

The biggest problem for Republicans (and Kentuckians) is that, on the issues that matter to taxpayers, there is no significant difference between the records Sen. Williams and Sen. Jensen.

Below are the scores for the two Senators on our scorecards.


If Senate Republicans are looking to change in direction, they should resolve to implement Williams' agenda vigorously, not replace him with a watered-down version.

November 28, 2011

Representatives Who Consider Themselves Kings

A noble goal of the political process of redistricting might be to ensure that districts combine coherent communities and honor laws about not not splitting counties.

The true motivation in Kentucky is to make incumbents lazy.

So says Rep. Larry Clark:

He told Pure Politics that his intent is to protect incumbents while giving Louisville another legislative district. Here's what he said:

Protecting incumbents is the name of the game. Looking at the proposals for redistricting the US House of Representatives, it seems the only thing that House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Reps. Geoff Davis and Hal Rogers agree upon in entrenching Rep. Ben Chandler in Kentucky's Sixth District for life. As CN2 Politics explains:

The initial redistricting plan House Speaker Greg Stumbo released Tuesday would increase the number of registered Democrats in the 1st and 5th congressional districts by 30,000 while making the 2nd and 4th districts safer Republican seats, according to a Pure Politics analysis....

Stumbo's plan also makes the 6th District slightly more Democratic, which would benefit Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler.

While those statements don't seem to be supported by the numbers that show an Democratic tilt to the 4th district as well, it is otherwise correct.

When examining the "Congressional Delegation Map" that Stumbo contends that Kentucky's representatives suggested, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are unchanged relative to current registration proportions, while the 4th and 5th become more Republican and the 6th becomes more Democratic.

Either way, advantage for Chandler.

It is understandable that Stumbo would want to protect his fellow Democrat, but what about the federal delegation's Republican members?

By separating vulturing Jessamine County from the Sixth and separating Nicholasville from Lexington in the proposals, even the usually pro-Chandler editorial board of the Herald Leader had to cry "FOUL!"

Don't sever Jessamine County from the 6th Congressional District. We understand the district anchored by Lexington must lose territory because of population gains. Moving Republican-leaning Jessamine would help Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler in his expected rematch with Republican Andy Barr next year. We've endorsed Chandler in all his political races. But Fayette and Jessamine counties are economic and social partners, their futures are linked and splitting them would weaken their voice in Congress.

The same could be said for Garrard and Boyle.

We encourage readers to write their legislators and say that these political maps are not acceptable.

November 22, 2011

Rep. Carl Rollins Afraid to Call Out Liberal Group on Tax Increase Proposal

"We lack courage, quite frankly, as a body to take on this kind of tough issue in an election year," said Democratic Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway.

What does he lack the courage to do?

According to CN2 Politics, an irrelevant "Democratic women's organization" apparently proposed several tax increases in a recent forum:

  • Expanding the sales tax to services
  • Adding an additional, higher tax bracket on Kentucky employers
  • Raising the state's taxes on cigarettes further
  • Considering abolishing the inventory tax on businesses
  • Imposing expiration dates on all tax credits, loopholes and tax breaks

Really? According to the so-called 2010-2012 Tax Expenditure Analysis from the Office of the State Budget Director, ending all tax credits on corporate and personal income taxes would be a $3.1 billion tax hike. Expanding the sales tax to services would be an additional $2.4 billion tax hike. Those two proposals alone would be a tax hike of $5.5 billion, or a 62% increase in Kentucky taxes.

To this massive tax increase, all Rep. Rollins has to say is "we probably don't have the courage to do it?"

How about that the proposal is a disaster for Kentucky that he would never consider?

No, Rep. Carl Rollins favors a 62% tax hike, or lacks the courage to say otherwise.

November 21, 2011

Another Round of Lexington Golf Losses

It seems no matter how often we write about the $1 million Lexington loses annually on golf, the Herald-Leader and select citizens refuse to acknowledge the reality of the problem.

The problem, simply put, is rapidly declining play. Not just on Lexington's golf courses, but everywhere.

While we don't have specific regional numbers, we do know the annual number of rounds played in Lexington. Here's the graph:

Golf Rounds 06-10

That graph, derived from Lexington's budget reports, shows a decline from 152,000 rounds in FY 2006 to only 107,565 in FY 2010. The 45,000 round decline is 50% higher than the total number of rounds played on Lexington's most popular golf course in 2009 (30,161 played at Lakeside). Lexington has lost 50% more than an entire golf course worth of rounds played.

Yet, Lexington continues to keep operating without change, devoting tax dollars to maintaining a singular type of recreation for fewer and fewer people.

The Lexington Herald-Leader's editorial board supports this policy of 'no change in subsidizing Lexington's golfers no matter what it costs'. When Councilman Doug Martin recently proposed reducing Lexington's golf surplus, the board falsely editorialized that:

Whatever the aim, the effort remains what it always was: a cynical and heavy-handed attempt by a handful of developers who overreached during the '90s golf boom, to use the pinched city budget to redirect play from the city courses onto their own.

Pot meet kettle. This is the most cynical sentence that could be written. There is no play to redirect! Golf play is declining. It is a fact.

Councilman Martin should be commended for beginning the process of a necessary realignment.

November 18, 2011

The Exasperating Richie Farmer

Outgoing Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer did not hold up to the microscope of top-of-the ticket campaign.

The laundry list of ethical failures that surfaced during the campaign was fairly incredible:

Each decision gave the impression that he is completely unconcerned about appropriate use of the taxpayer's dollar.

Today we learn that he isn't just passively unconcerned, but belligerently, recklessly unethical.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer hired his girlfriend as a "special assistant" in his department during the waning days of the 2011 gubernatorial campaign, in which he was a candidate for lieutenant governor.

According to the state Personnel Cabinet, Stephanie L. Sandmann was hired as a non-merit employee in the Department of Agriculture, to start work on Oct. 31, and is earning $5,000 a month, equal to $60,000 a year.

Typically, a candidate has to win the Governor's race and be sworn in before he finds out that his running mate is trouble. David Williams didn't even get to that stage:

But Senate President David Williams, Farmer's running mate, confirmed Thursday that Sandmann is Farmer's girlfriend and said he had no idea Farmer had put her on the state's payroll eight days before the Nov. 8 election. He said he met her while on the campaign trail with Farmer.

"She told me she worked for a gynecologist," said Williams, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor.

It stinks whenever a public official puts themselves ahead of the taxpayer. It is disappointing that the media in Kentucky never seems interested in holding Democrats accountable for similar actions. Anyone with any commonsense would be able to advise Mr. Farmer that his actions are wrong, wrong and wrong.

Which is the most putrid part -- he clearly does not care that he is wrong. He clearly does not care that he embarrasses an entire slate of candidates, an entire political party.

He does not care that he is creating challenges for the new commissioner before he is even sworn in.

Richie Farmer clearly does not know right from wrong.

Let us hope never to hear from him again.

November 17, 2011

No Need for Another Wasteful Special Session

Now that the elections are past, the biggest item on the agenda is redistricting, and, after that, the gaping hole in the budget created by Beshear borrowing from 2012 to pay for 2011.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo argues that the legislature is incapable of doing its job and would require a wasteful special session to accomplish one of the few things they are actually required to do.

Republican Jeff Hoover gets it right:

"According to recent testimony from the Governor's Budget Director, our Commonwealth is facing a potential $337 million hole in our next budget. It is simply wrong for us to spend taxpayers' money at an approximate cost of $60,000 a day on a Special Session to deal with redistricting.

We should concern ourselves with redistricting in the 2012 session, and not waste time and taxpayer money on an unneeded and unnecessary Special Session."

Rumor has it that, faced with almost inevitable gains by Republicans in the redistricting process, Stumbo really wants to postpone the House redistricting until after the 2012 elections. Perhaps he is just setting the stage to make excuses about why he can't get the job done.

November 8, 2011

Hal Rogers Stands with Beshear on Eve of Election

In case you didn't know who is expected to win the Governor's race today, Republican Congressman Hal Rogers stood side-by-side with Democratic Governor Steve Beshear on the day before the election:

Eleven economically distressed Eastern Kentucky counties will benefit initially from the Appalachian philanthropy initiative. They are Bell, Clay, Elliott, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin and Whitley, according to Beshear's office.

The grants were announced at The Center for Rural Development by Beshear; U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, a Republican who helped found the center and represents much of Eastern and Southern Kentucky; Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the ARC; and Tony Wilder, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Local Government.

Senate President David Williams, who has carried Rep. Rogers' water on issues like the decongestant ban, can't be very appreciative of the deliberate timing of the announcement.

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

* Free market principles
* Lowering taxes
* Reducing spending
* Decreasing the size of government
* Judicial reform
* Protecting property rights
* Expanding school choice
* Reducing needless regulation

We will hold endorsed candidates accountable for these principles by monitoring each candidate on a vote-by-vote basis. As a Club member, you will receive candidate monitoring updates and scorecards on a regular basis. Join us today.