News Archives – 2012

Damon Thayer Endorsed by Lexington Herald-Leader

The Herald-Leader praised Senator Thayer as a “champion of the effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow casino gambling in Kentucky.” The Lexington newspaper also applauded “…Thayer’s admirable efforts to improve transparency in campaign finance disclosure.”

Additionally, they said that Senator Thayer has “pushed for more accountability for the hundreds of local special taxing districts, supporting legislation that would require county fiscal courts to approve any tax increases levied by the unelected boards of those districts”

For the rest of the story, click here.


Senator Damon Thayer(R-Georgetown) has been honored by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce with its Chamber MVP Award.

Earlier this year, Senator Thayer was noted as having a 100% voting record on behalf of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Kentucky Club for Growth ranked Thayer #1 in the Senate on fiscal issues in its recently released scorecard.

“I want to thank the Kentucky Chamber for this award, which I accept on behalf of small businesses in Kentucky who deserve advocates in the General Assembly for the free enterprise system,” Thayer said. “As a small business owner myself, I want to keep government out of the way so businesses can have a chance to grow and create well-paying jobs for Kentuckians.”

Below is a segment of the letter.


Sen. Thayer said Gov. Beshear committed to be involved in pension reform

by Ryan Alessi

The first issue Gov. Steve Beshear raised when meeting with Republican Sen. Damon Thayer over lunch at the governor’s mansion last month was reform to the state employee pension system — something Beshear has largely steered clear of.

Thayer, a Georgetown Republican, said on Pure Politics that Beshear “wanted to remain engaged and wanted to continue working” with the legislative task force looking at ways to sure up the system that currently faces a nearly $30 billion unfunded liability.

“I think the governor can and should and will play a significant role,” Thayer said. (8:45 of the interview.)

“I think that is very positive news. The governor didn’t talk about leadership right off the bat. The governor didn’t talk about the gambling bill right off the bat. The first thing he talked about — that he brought up, not me — was pension reform,” Thayer continued. “And I think that’s a very good sign. And it would be very good if Gov. Beshear engaged in the process and used the bullypulpit to make this a bipartisan or non-partisan solution to a problem that hopefully we don’t politicize.”

Beshear seemed most interested in a “hybrid plan” for future hires to the state ranks in which part of their retirement payments will go to 401(k)-style accounts and part into a pension fund.

Previously, the governor has said changes made to the retirement system in 2008 were adequate. The legislature approved a payment schedule to get the state back to the point that it was paying into the system the appropriate amount by 2025 and it tweaked benefits for new employees hired after July 1, 2008.

Options to fix the massive debt in the retirement system are not pleasant. And the situation continues to get worse as the system pays more out in benefits each month than the money it brings in through state government employer and employee contributions and investment income.

The main options to sure up the fund are to float a bond, which comes with an expensive federal tax as a penalty and is more debt, dramatically cut spending in other programs or raise taxes.

Thayer said as far as he is concerned, one of those options is a no-go.

“I just don’t see a willingness to raise taxes to take care of this pension problem,” Thayer said. (5:10)

The Pew Center on the States has agreed to help the pension task force that Thayer is co-chairing with state Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton. The group began meeting in July as the situation continues to get increasingly bleak.

“It’s a problem for state government spending down the road. And it’s a problem for retaining the pensions that we’ve promised to the employees who are already in the system or retired,” Thayer said.


 

Damon Thayer receives highest score among “Defenders of Freedom” in the Kentucky Club for Growth’s Legislative Scorecard.

Once again, Senator Thayer has received high marks for regular votes for lower taxes, lower spending and limited government. Below is a press release from the Kentucky Club for Growth:

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Today, the Kentucky Club for Growth released its Legislative Scorecardcovering the 2011 and 2012 sessions of the General Assembly and recognized top performers as “Defenders of Economic Freedom.”

“While most legislators continue to talk about limited government and cutting budgets, they don’t support their rhetoric with their votes in the General Assembly,” said Andy Hightower, Executive Director of the Kentucky Club for Growth. “New taxes, expensive health care mandates, bailout funds and new licensing fees and requirements are continuously supported by the majority of members of the Kentucky General Assembly.

“Representatives Jim DeCesare (2011 and 2012), Stan Lee (’11 and ’12), Mike Harmon (’11 and ’12) and Joe Fischer (’11 and ’12) and Senators Damon Thayer (2011) and Julie Denton (2011) are recognized as ‘Defenders of Economic Freedom’ for their high scores and regular votes for lower taxes, lower spending and truly limited government.

“Kentuckians should explore the scorecard and encourage the several legislators who received scores of 70 and above,” said Hightower. “Legislators who dependably vote to protect the taxpayer in Kentucky are too few and far between. The Kentucky Club for Growth thanks the six Defenders of Economic Freedom, and suggests all citizens to use the Scorecard as a tool to evaluate which legislators are actually helping create opportunity in Kentucky by protecting and promoting economic freedom.”

– – –

To review the 2011-2012 Legislative Scorecard, click here. Ffor further explanation of how it was compiled, please visit www.kyclubforgrowth.org.

The Kentucky Club for Growth is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to protecting economic freedom, entrepreneurship, and the system of free enterprise that allows individuals the opportunity to bring growth and jobs to the commonwealth. It is an affiliate of the national Club for Growth.

Damon Thayer defeats Ricky Hostetler in GOP primary for 17th Senate District

By John Cheves, Herald-Leader

Republicans in north-central Kentucky’s 17th Senate District stuck with Damon Thayer of Georgetown on Tuesday.

Thayer, 44, seeking a fourth Senate term, survived a primary challenge by Ricky Hostetler, a Georgetown electrical contractor who accused him of becoming part of the spendthrift Frankfort establishment.

“I’m gratified with the win,” Thayer said Tuesday night. “We carried all four counties in the district against a vigorous challenge. I’m humbled and thrilled to be the nominee.”

Thayer will face Democrat David Holcomb of Georgetown on Nov. 6. Holcomb, a political unknown, has not reported raising any campaign money, while Thayer reported $89,460 on hand this month. The 17th Senate district includes Scott, Owen and Grant counties and part of Kenton County.

As chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, Thayer is a vocal conservative in legislative debates over the reach and cost of government. This year, he teamed with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to sponsor a proposed constitutional amendment that could have legalized slot machines at horse racetracks. The measure failed, but it scored Thayer points with the horse industry, which recently held a fund-raising event for him.

Thayer touted his conservative support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; the National Rifle Association; the pro-business Kentucky Club for Growth, which ranked him best among 38 state senators; and the anti-abortion Kentucky Right to Life.

Hostetler didn’t challenge most of Thayer’s stances, other than expanded gambling, which Hostetler opposed. But Hostetler said Thayer hasn’t been effective at curbing government during his decade in office.

“Just take a look at the numbers. In the last 10 to 12 years, our state’s debt has increased ten-fold to about $40 billion, if you count the state pension system liability,” Hostetler said in a recent interview. “Senator Thayer has been there most of that time. I think he has to accept some of the responsibility.”

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/05/22/2197702/damon-thayer-defeats-ricky-hostetler.html#storylink=cpy


 

Senator Damon Thayer has been endorsed by the following groups in the May 22 Republican Primary:

Northern Kentucky Right to Life: “…based on his strong and consistent Pro-Life voting record in the state legislature.” 4/11/12

Kentucky Right to Life: “We will…encourage (our membership) to cast pro-life votes on your behalf.” 4/10/12

National Rifle Association: A+ rated and endorsed “based on your record of support on Second Amendment issues…as well as your answers to…our questionnaire.’ 4/17/12

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce: “…based on his support for private enterprise and understanding of business issues, as well as his past voting record and his answers to the Kentucky Chamber PAC’s 2012 Legislative Candidate Survey.” 4/11/12

Lexington Herald-Leader: Thayer “…gets high marks for leadership and independence…” and “we have been impressed by Thayer’s efforts…..(on)pension reform, …greater transparency and timeliness in campaign finance reporting.” 5/8/12

Senator Thayer has also been endorsed by former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Here is what some others are saying about Damon Thayer:

National Federation of Independent Business: “We are pleased to inform you that you have achieved a 100% voting record on small business issues for 2011-2012.” 5/2/12

Kentucky Club for Growth: “In the history of our scorecard, no Senator has opposed unnecessary spending and held the line against tax increases more often than Damon Thayer…. his commitment to government transparency, low taxes and controlled spending is unmatched in the Senate… His scorecard results are a success, and characterizing them any other way is a distortion of a fine record. .” 5/11/12

U.S. Senator Rand Paul(R-KY)
: “One of the most conservative, if not the most conservative member of the state Senate.” 8/8/11

I want to thank these groups and individuals for their support, and now ask for yours in the voting booth on Tuesday.


Thayer for Senate 17- Kentucky.com endorses Senator Thayer
May 8, 2012

Sen. Damon Thayer is trying to gain the Republican nomination to serve a third term representing the 17th district, which comprises Scott, Owen, Grant and part of Kenton counties.

We think Thayer deserves a vote of confidence from his party. He has far out-raised his opponent, Rick Hostetler, and seems likely to win the nod to be the standard-bearer for his party in the fall.

Thayer, of Georgetown, played a prominent role in this spring’s legislative session as sponsor of a proposal to place a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling before voters.

That effort failed, but Thayer, who throughout his professional career has been associated with the equine industry, gets marks for leadership and independence for attempting to get this long-debated topic before voters despite opposition from within his own party.

We have been impressed by Thayer’s efforts in other areas, including pension reform, restricting race day medications for horses and greater transparency and timeliness in campaign finance reporting.

His interest in transparency, though, did not extend to revealing the names of clients of his racing consulting business and whether they stood to benefit from the casino gambling he was advocating. It’s information the public had a right to know considering the extraordinary financial windfall for some if a casino measure did pass. Although he did eventually release the information, Thayer’s initial response to the question was not reassuring.

Hostetler, a Scott County farmer and electrical contractor, is making his first run for office. He is a member of the Scott County Republican executive committee and the Tea Party. He did not respond to an invitation to meet with the Herald-Leader editorial board.

The winner will face Democrat David Holcomb of Georgetown in November.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/05/08/2180069/thayer-for-senate-17.html#storylink=cpy.


 

Kentucky Chamber PAC Endorses Senator Damon Thayer

FRANKFORT, KY. (May 11, 2012) – The Kentucky Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) has endorsed Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) for re-election in the upcoming Primary Election. His selection for endorsement is based on his support for private enterprise and understanding of business issues, as well as his past voting record and his answers to the Kentucky Chamber PAC’s 2012 Legislative Candidate Survey.

Sen. Thayer has a consistent record of promoting and supporting issues that enable job growth and economic development, which lead to a higher quality of life for the citizens of the 17th Senatorial District and the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky Chamber PAC is the independent political arm of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the largest broad-based business organization in Kentucky.


 

Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report 3-30-2012

FRANKFORT – Today marks the 59th day of the session’s 60 working days of the 2012 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. We now wait for final passage of the state’s six-year road plan. We spent this final week of the session wrapping up some of the biggest priorities of the year.

Senate-House budget committee conferees began meeting on Monday morning to iron out differences between chamber-approved budgets. They reached an agreement in Thursday’s early morning hours. The latest version of the budget plan will be voted on today, and must be approved by the full General Assembly before heading to the Governor.

We purposed ourselves to keep our belt tightened regardless of the pressures. There are many good and worthwhile programs out there but the fact is we simply cannot afford it; we do not have the dollars. So, we did the best we could and made the same sorts of decisions occurring around kitchen tables and businesses across the commonwealth. This final budget includes those unavoidable 8.4% cuts for most state agencies that the Governor recommended, with the same exemptions for critical areas like Medicaid and Corrections. State universities would see a 6.4% reduction, and K-12 schools would receive full base-line funding. State employees will receive no raises. The Governor is required to find $40 million a year in efficiencies. We also significantly reduced the state’s structural imbalance to under $200 million. The final budget contains less debt than either the Governor or the House proposed and more money in the Rainy Day Fund. The state’s six-year road plan which includes $3.7 billion over the next biennium for the repair and maintenance of Kentucky’s roads is still being considered in a conference committee.

We also wanted to continue preparing Kentucky for a stronger, more prosperous future. House Bill 495 provides a solution for paying the interest to the Federal Government on Kentucky’s unemployment insurance loan of $960 million and putting our fund on a sustainable path. In order to repay the loan, the House proposed a $21 per employee annual surcharge to prevent a $400 per employee Federal penalty. The Senate added language that provides our businesses an unemployment insurance tax decrease to help recover the costs. Once the debt is repaid and the trust fund is over $200 million, state taxes in current law will be deferred to enable our businesses to do what they do best – create jobs.

House Bill 300 changes the make-up of the board of the Kentucky state employee retirement system by placing term limits on the board and staggering the terms of the board members, requiring investment placement agents to register as executive branch lobbyists and requiring a state audit every five years. This will add transparency and accountability to the process.

We’ll reconvene to finish our final day in April when we’ll have the opportunity to override any vetoes the Governor may enact on these and the dozens of other bills we passed this week. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit our website at www.lrc.ky.gov and review all the work we’ve done so far. If you would like to share your thoughts on any bill, you may call our Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. I also welcome emails at [email protected].


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report 3-23-2012

FRANKFORT – While we passed several important bills this week, my efforts were centered on reviewing the House’s proposal, House Bill 265, for the state’s two-year budget. Each year, spending will be roughly $9 billion or $18 billion total over the two-year budget cycle. The Senate proposal carries about 6.58% authorized debt which is lower than the House’s proposal of 6.8% and even lower than the Governor’s proposal of 7.1%. The Senate’s budget puts more money into the Rainy Day Fund and significantly lowers the state’s structural imbalance. We recognize that it is bad public policy to bond, restructure debt or borrow money to pay for current expenses. The Senate crafted a fiscally responsible budget that reflects what every family and business in the Commonwealth has had to face during the last several years – less money.

The Senate also passed several other bills to lay the groundwork for a prosperous future. If you ask business owners what sorts of things the government can do to help them, one of their top answers will be to tell government to “get out of the way.” Senate Bill 4 applies a moratorium on administrative regulations as the Governor determines which regulations to keep in place, amended, or repealed altogether. The Governor can then reissue the regulations he deems important and these will go through the usual legislative review. The purpose of SB 4 is to rein in what many feel is out-of-control red-tape. We need to look at these regulations with fresh eyes and make sure they still have a constructive purpose.

By now, it is common knowledge that math and science skills are important to students as they prepare for either a vocational track or college and future jobs. Senate Bill 11 will provide financial incentives to teachers, based on student achievement on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests in advanced science and mathematics. AdvancedKentucky, a private-public educational partnership, has similar programs in many of our public high schools and has experienced wild success as students score well enough to obtain college credit, saving both them and their parents’ money. In 2010, AdvanceKentucky high schools represented a 53% increase in math/science/English AP qualifying scores (3 or above) above 2009. Qualifying scores among low-income students went up 109%. This is an investment in our future.

We also must continue to be conservative and frugal with the state funds (your tax-dollars). After hearing your concerns, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 118, which will require all applicants for public benefits to either present a legitimate document verifying United States citizenship or submitting an affidavit verifying legal residency here. This measure passed with bipartisan support in the Senate. These are your tax funds, and you should have the assurance that they benefit U.S. citizens.

Next week, we will be entering in a conference committee with the House to hammer out differences in our budget proposals. The Senate will also be voting on the state’s road plan.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web atwww.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected].


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report 3-16-2012

FRANKFORT – The Senate had a full week of legislation and committee meetings, in addition to logging in long hours working on the state’s biannual budget. With 10 days remaining, you will see a flurry of bills voted through the chambers and updates on the budget and state’s road plan these last few working days.

This week, the Senate considered and approved many important measures. Two in particular propose constitutional amendments.

Senate Bill 158, the Religious Freedom Act, is a measure that will protect religious freedom from an overbearing government. If approved by the House of Representatives, Kentuckians will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the government has the right to infringe on religious beliefs except in a case of a compelling government interest and only then, using the least burdensome means. Courts would have more ammunition in favor of religion in the cases of, for example, the jailing of Amish who refused to highlight their buggies and people in Bell County who wanted to pray before football games. SB 158 takes us back to a traditional, more reasonable, standard.

The other constitutional amendment, Senate Bill 10, would give the legislature more authority over administrative regulations. Administrative regulations have often been problematic for the Legislature, with the executive branch issuing them and enforcing them as law, sometimes counter to legislative intent.

Although we do have an oversight process in place, some regulations do not receive approval by the Legislature, and are reissued and enforced by administrative bodies anyway. This measure, through the constitutional amendment, would ensure that legislative findings on the appropriateness of administrative regulations could not be so easily ignored.

If these measures pass the House, where they require a 60-vote supermajority, it will be presented on the ballot this November for voter ratification.

An additional measure affecting administrative bodies, Senate Bill 8, would require that any administrative bodies appointed by the governor be dissolved within 180 days after the end of his or her term. I believe it is important to offer new opportunities every four years to review the value of each board and commission. Boards and commissions can be reconstituted by the Legislature, if deemed necessary. This will reduce the number of appointed bodies that remain in place and costing taxpayers money years after they are no longer relevant.

Diabetes is one of the leading chronic diseases in Kentucky. While there are many dedicated medical professionals who can assist those with diabetes to manage the disease, there also happens to be those without proper instruction or credentials. Senate Bill 198 establishes minimal quality standards by directing that diabetes educators be certified. Families confronting the disease have enough to worry about. They should have the peace of mind to know they are receiving correct information from a knowledgeable source.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected]


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report 3-10-2012

FRANKFORT – This week, we returned to Frankfort with heavy hearts for the thousands of our fellow Kentuckians coping with the aftermath of last week’s deadly tornadoes. I had the opportunity to visit many communities within our state to review the damage over the past several days. Words cannot describe the absolute devastation that hit our towns and neighbors.

Despite the destruction and wreckage of our communities in the central and eastern portions of our state, the resiliency, courage, and unity of fellow Kentuckians has been remarkable. All levels of government- local, state, and federal- have come together and are beginning to help these towns and families recover. In these upcoming weeks and months, we must continue to give support and prayer to the families who have lost loved ones and property. While the recovery process will be long and hard for many, I have no doubt about the spirit of our Commonwealth and our ability to survive, recover, and thrive.

Many of you have asked me about ways to get involved. Right now, cash donations are best. These contributions will allow relief supplies to be brought near the disaster sites without transportation costs and need of sorting or distributing. You will find the National Donations Management Network at http://kyem.ky.gov. Also, there is additional information on volunteer coordination and county emergency management contact information.

The Senate received the House-approved budget plan this week. As we speak, Senate subcommittees are beginning the complex task of reviewing that plan. With about 16 days remaining of this regular session, many of us are making arrangements to work through the weekend. As I have mentioned in previous weeks, I understand the large and daunting task up ahead and have been waiting for this opportunity to vet this proposal. The only certainty I can assure you at this point would be that there will be some changes made before the budget proposal clears the Senate and then the full General Assembly.

As discussed earlier this session, painful cuts will have to be made to most of our state agencies. We are working hard to ensure that the necessary cuts made are in the most effective and least painful way possible.

Senate Bill 58 was approved by the Senate this week and sent over to the House for consideration. Under current laws, police officers have to witness crimes of violence in hospital emergency rooms before being allowed to make an immediate arrest. SB 58 allows arrests to be made based on probable cause, similar to shoplifting or domestic-violence situations. This measure will help resolve the increasing cases of hospital emergency room violence.

Senate Bill 108 passed with unanimous support this week, which is an effort to give the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation more flexibility in its lending power. With direct oversight from the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation, this will enable beginning farmers and other applicants to maintain and grow their businesses.

Lastly, Senate Bill 88 passed the Senate with full support this week. SB 88 makes an allowance for Kentucky high school students earning Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, or KEES, money. Currently, students who transfer from an eligible to an ineligible non-public high school forfeit their KEES earnings. SB 88 would allow them to keep the KEES funds they earn while at the eligible school as long as they obtain a high school diploma or GED within two years of their presumed graduating class. This sort of measure is exactly what Kentucky needs to encourage our high school students to pursue higher educational opportunities.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected].


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report, 3-3-2012

FRANKFORT – Another week goes by in a whirl of legislative meetings and visits from hometown guests. Dr. Jim Votruba, President of Northern Kentucky University, came to Frankfort this week to testify in a House budget committee about the importance of continued funding of NKU. Even though the House has yet to act on the budget proposal, senators continue to educate ourselves and monitor the budget meetings in the House. The House proposal is expected to arrive sometime next week.

As sponsor of Senate Bill 123, I am proud to report its successful passage through the Senate this week. As reported several weeks ago, SB 123 is a measure of reassurance to voters to make certain their voices are heard. With collaboration from the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association, this bill addresses the existing vagueness of how county clerks oversee referendum petitions. SB 123 establishes referendum petition requirements to include: the printed name, signature, year of birth, residential address, and the date of the petitioner’s signature. This bill also includes the eligibility factors to participate, which includes that a person must live in the affected district and be a registered voter. After the unfortunate happenings of many activists collecting signatures to place the question of whether or not to disband the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission to the voters last year, this will prevent future confusion of those exercising their rights as voters.

Today, I voted against Senate Bill 3. The bill would decrease the current monthly over-the-counter purchase limit of pseudoephedrine, (a required precursor to ‘cooking’ methamphetamine, or ‘meth)’ from nine grams to 7.2 grams, with a 24-gram-per-year limit. Those limits, sponsors say, will still provide any law-abiding Kentucky family a more-than-adequate supply of cold and allergy medicine OTC, without having to see a doctor for a prescription. My position is a matter of avoiding additional obstacles on cold and allergy sufferers with legitimate health needs. I will continue to monitor the situation to see what other reasonable options are available to overcome the problem of meth laboratories without hurting the law-abiding citizen.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected].


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report – 2-25-2012

FRANKFORT – This week, the General Assembly reconvened on Tuesday, after observing President’s Day, and returned to our legislative work. This is the beginning of the second half of the legislative session and it promises to bring the busiest weeks up ahead.

Fiscal responsibility is critical now more than ever with the state’s budget predicament and our current borrowing situation. The Senate approved of Senate Bill 1, a bill I co-sponsor, earlier this week and it directly addresses these large concerns. SB 1 had bipartisan sponsorship and support from our chamber and it is a step forward to getting our fiscal house in order. This measure would restrict the legislature to appropriating no more than 6 percent of General Fund revenues to bonded indebtedness. This standard figure is generally accepted by bond rating agencies and creates a reasonable threshold for the legislature to operate. SB 1 is an additional safeguard against high debt levels in the future, and forces future budget decisions to prioritize critical programs and services when establishing expenditures.

Finally this week, a bill that would have placed on the November ballot for voter approval a constitutional amendment authorizing casino gambling in Kentucky was defeated 21-16. I fulfilled my commitment to my district by voting to let the people decide on this issue.

Currently, small group sessions are studying the budget. The Senate is waiting for the House to take action on the budget as they are constitutionally required to do first, before the Senate’s response. However, their apparent delay has not stopped the Senate from looking closely at what the Administration is requesting.

We have now passed through the half way mark of this legislative session and there is plenty more work to accomplish. I look forward to your involvement and feedback on the issues that are important to you. Please contact me with your thoughts and concerns.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected]


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report – 02-12-12

FRANKFORT – This was a very busy week in Frankfort with many visitors and a lot of discussion on pending issues from both Chambers of the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 75, which addresses safety options for religious groups that operate horse-drawn buggies. As co-sponsor of this bill, I am proud of this legislation and the efforts made by fellow members and citizens from all over the Commonwealth. As I reported last month, Kentucky has faced recent incidents of buggy-related accidents on roadways. This measure allows for one-inch reflective tape to be placed on buggies, versus the previous mandate of reflective triangles. This proposal is in compliance with certain religious beliefs, where prior laws were rejected by Amish communities, while maintaining safety on our roadways.

The Senate passed several education bills. Senate Bill 38, called the “career-pathways bill,” is a measure to seek at-risk students in high school by preparing them for careers that do not require a college degree. In conjunction with Senate Bill 109, a bill that would allow local school districts to adopt a policy requiring students to remain enrolled in school until age 18 or graduation, it will create the best chance for student success. Those districts wishing to change their compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 would be required to have an approved alternative education program in place, like the proposal of SB 38, to meet the needs of students at-risk for dropping out, starting with school year of 2014-2015. If we want to keep our students in school until they graduate, we need to make sure what goes on in the classroom is relevant. I believe this is the best proposal to address our high school drop-out epidemic, while providing a path of success for school districts and students.

I was also proud to co-sponsor Senate Bill 102, an informed consent bill that will ensure face-to-face meetings between a woman considering an abortion and her doctor. In the past, such counseling was often available in the form of a recorded message. SB 102 will require doctors to provide information at least 24 hours in advance prior to the abortion procedure to ensure the opportunity to get information directly from a medical professional and have the ability to ask questions. My hope is that this process will make women reconsider the life altering decision they are considering.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 47 at the end of this week, which allows for a type of “livestock-sharing.” These days, many people want to get closer to their food source for both environmental and health reason. Ultimately, I feel this is a parental and individual right. SB 47 affirms Kentuckians’ right to enter into shared ownership arrangements for livestock. Individuals entering into such contracts could use and consume products from their animal shares, such as meat, natural milk, and wool.

Lastly, the Legislative Research Commission will appeal a circuit judge’s ruling on the constitutionality of the state legislature redistricting plan contained in House Bill 1. In the meantime, I am a resource to you for any questions on the status of redistricting.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. I also welcome emails at [email protected].


 

Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report – 2-5-2012

FRANKFORT – The Senate passed several bills this week. Of these bills, three education bills are of particular importance.

Many students within our Commonwealth feel bored with the pace of high school, especially during their senior year. Senate Bill 86, passed with bipartisan support, helps focus our students on the higher challenges required of them. It provides an early graduation option to high school students who meet course requirements, grade point average, and college readiness standards. A student who completes an early graduation program will receive an “Early Graduation Scholarship Certificate” with the approximate value of 24 credit hours at KCTCS, and may be utilized at any 2 year or 4 year SACS accredited postsecondary institution in Kentucky.

Conversely, children who are intellectually and/or developmentally challenged also work hard in their way to reach certain academic standards. Senate Bill 43 recognizes the course work of these students by providing an alternative diploma. These special children who continue their studies at the high school level are dedicated young people who should take pride in their achievements.

Senate Bill 21 addresses schools as polling locations. Currently, schools are closed during elections due to some being used as places where people can vote. However, what happens if there is no polling place there? Senate Bill 21 permits school districts where no schools are used as a polling place to adjust their calendar to keep schools open during a regular, special, or primary election. It would also allow a district to schedule election days as instructional or make-up days. This is a more efficient use of space and allows for greater continuity in our children’s education.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 62, which lowers the percentage of signatures required to place the question of whether or not to disband the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission to the voters. I am proud to sponsor this bill. This measure will ensure voters of Kenton County will not be ignored and have the opportunity to voice their opinions of NKAPC.

The Right to Life Rally was on Wednesday. As usual, the Capitol Rotunda was packed with families and single people; all of them concerned citizens. The pro-life platform is one I have championed since the beginning. I had the honor of speaking to the crowd about my dedication to the cause. This year, it is my honor to be co-sponsor of Senate Bill 102. This bill will direct the physician performing an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with any woman who is considering an abortion at least 24 hours prior to the abortion procedure. Currently, these “meetings” are sometimes done through a recorded phone message which is disrespectful to the woman. As with any medical procedure, a patient deserves to have the opportunity to get information directly from a medical professional and have the opportunity to ask questions. Senate Bill 103, which I proudly co-sponsor, passed through Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection late last week, which would require physicians to perform an ultrasound before an abortion, to show images of the fetus to the pregnant woman. Both measures will save lives and I look forward to writing more about these bills and other pro-life issues.

Lastly, in regards to the Congressional redistricting plan, there is currently no agreement between the House and Senate. As co-chairman of the committee addressing this issue, I have yet to see a revised map from the House Chamber. With the Congressional race filing deadline coming up on Tuesday, February 7, we must work quickly to finalize a new map, which would take effect upon the signature of the governor.

If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835.


Senator Thayer’s Frankfort Report 1-29-2012

FRANKFORT — This week the Senate focused on an array of issues ranging from the safety of slow-moving vehicles to the elimination of the office of State Treasurer.

As a member of the Transportation Committee, I voted to pass Senate Bill 75, which addresses safety options for religious groups that operate horse-drawn buggies. Kentucky has faced recent incidents of buggy-related accidents on roadways. This measure allows for one-inch reflective tape to be placed on buggies, versus the previous mandate of reflective triangles. This proposal is in compliance with their religious practices, where prior laws were rejected by Amish communities. This is a win-win for all parties involved. Kentucky will no longer clog up the justice system with people who are simply following certain religious beliefs, while this new solution provides better safety than the current triangle, especially for nighttime travels.

On Wednesday, the State and Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 51, which proposes a constitutional amendment allowing voters to decide if the Office of the Treasurer should be abolished. As chairman of this committee and sponsor of SB 51, I think it is time to put this issue on the ballot and let voters decide if this office is needed. The General Assembly needs to identify cost-savings within state government, especially in areas like this office where duplication of duties exist and can be folded into the Finance Cabinet. I sponsored a similar bill in 2008 and look forward to further discussion on the matter.

This week, Senate Bill 62 was up for discussion in State and Local Government Committee. As the sponsor of this bill, I am looking forward to further dialogue on the issue of planning commissions. We heard several testimonies from constituents of my district relating to the dissolution of an area planning commission. SB 62 would require changing the petition signature threshold from 25% of the number of registered voters who voted in the last presidential election to 10% of the number of voters who voted in the last regular election, a more reasonable figure for petitioners. I will continue to keep you updated on this issue and look forward to report its progress in the upcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, Senate and House members remain at a stalemate on talks on congressional redistricting and so far, no meetings have been scheduled to pursue any negotiations. There appears to be lack of interest to work on this issue from the House. Legislators have been appointed to the conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate’s proposals, and as a member of the committee, I am working hard to finalize a map that follows the constitution and which best serves voters of the Commonwealth. Measures to extend the January 31 filing deadline for the congressional races are currently being addressed.

As we near the end of another week of the session, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


Sen. Thayer comments on Redistricting

FRANKFORT — It is the General Assembly’s Constitutional duty every 10 years to realign our voting districts according to population after each census. This act fulfills the requirement of the principal and law of “one person, one vote.” In this the third week of session, that is what the Senate and House did with House Bill 1. According to tradition, the Senate draws its lines while the House of Representatives decides on theirs. My district now consists of Grant, Scott, and part of Kenton counties.

As chairman of the State and Local Government Committee, I have worked extensively over these past months with my fellow members to draw districts that follow our Constitution. The final congressional district lines are still being discussed between the chambers. Since the House has adjourned, there will be no agreement today. The Senate was prepared to continue working and is under no self-imposed constraints to pass a bill simply to pass one; the congressional filing deadline can be extended to assure citizens’ right to participate in the process.

Our position has always been that the current congressional districts should be changed minimally to constitutionally conform to population shifts so that most Kentuckians will be able to benefit from the same representation and maintain electoral accountability. Any attempt on either side to gain new political advantage from the congressional redistricting process would be futile. It is our hope is to complete the process soon so that we can move on to other issues, such as jobs, education, and health care, that matter to all Kentuckians.

On Tuesday, Governor Steve Beshear gave his Budget Address outlining his priorities for Kentucky’s budget. As I have been warning, we have close to a billion dollar shortfall; $742 million to be exact, over the biennium. I was glad to see that the Governor took a more realistic approach to the budget. He also proposed cutting certain agencies by 8.4%. However, the Governor then proposed about $800 million of additional spending. This approach will never be reviewed and considered by the General Assembly.

The House of Representatives has assigned the budget proposal to its budget subcommittees. When they have finished putting their mark on the document and the House passes the bill, the Senate will then have its turn at reviewing and revising the proposal. I will keep you updated on that process.

We are in a 60-day legislative session so there is still plenty of time to let me know what topics interest you. The heavy workload of social workers and how to curb meth abuse were just two of the topics that committees focused on this week. These and other discussions and debates will continue in the weeks ahead.

I can be reached through the Legislative Research Commission’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181 or at [email protected]. You can also check the committee schedule and learn more about what the committees are doing at www.lrc.ky.gov.


Senator Thayer Recaps Day 1 of 2012 Session

FRANKFORT – The 2012 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly began this week on January 3, 2012 at noon. This day marked the beginning of a 60-day session to develop the two-year budget for the state.

Kentucky legislators will be faced with many fiscal challenges in the upcoming months. The tight budget situation has not been overstated, and only through responsible and practical measures will we be able to craft an appropriate bi-annual budget. The fact that Kentucky is facing a projected $500 million shortfall over the biennium is one of the many problems we are faced to resolve. This total does not include a Medicaid request for $200 million, school funding for $120 million, as well as requests for the public pension system, health insurance for state employees, and the corrections system.

The public employee pension system has a $25 billion unfunded liability. The Senate has offered multiple plans in the past and will continue to advocate moving future state employees to a 401k-style plan commonly found in the private sector. This proposal would not include teachers or current employees. If this unfunded liability is left unaddressed, it will put an incredible strain on public services. This transition would be a responsible solution because it would not only protect current employees but also protect taxpayers.

In addition to the budget, the “Road Plan” for the next two years will understandably consume a considerable amount of time this winter for the Kentucky General Assembly. The new Medicaid Managed Care Plan is off to a predictably shaky start and is sure to demand precious hours out of the legislative calendar.

While the road plan, funding unemployment insurance, the budget, redistricting, and Medicaid Managed Care are among the central issues, we obviously have a mass of other public policy initiatives that will occupy our time as well. Sudafed as a prescription drug, state debt ceiling, tax reform, pro-life legislation, and improving college readiness are just a few other topics that will surely surface.

Furthermore, the Senate awaits a proposal from the Governor on expanded gambling, an issue that he says he will push.

With the first day of session complete, I look forward to your feedback in the upcoming weeks. Please feel free to leave messages toll-free by dialing 1-800-372-7181 or TTY 1-800-896-0305. You can also find us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.state.ky.us.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you, and I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

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Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) represents the 17th Senate District which includes southern Kenton County, and all of Grant, Owen and Scott Counties. He is the Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and serves on the Agriculture Committee, the Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations Committee, and the Transportation Committee. For a high-resolution JPEG file of Senator Thayer, please log on to www.lrc.state.ky.us/pubinfo/ephoto.htm.


Thayer for Senate 2012 pre-election fundraiser was a big success at Jordan Farm in Georgetown.

Below is footage of the appearance by U.S. Senator Rand Paul.