Senate President Robert Stivers

Politics
5:43 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

State Lawmakers Point Out Speaker Stumbo's 'Evolving' Position on John Arnold Scandal

Greg Stumbo
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky lawmakers from both parties are questioning the timing of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo's decision to begin a process that may lead to the possible censure or removal Rep. John Arnold over sexual harassment allegations.

And Republicans argue Stumbo's decision contradicts earlier statements from the speaker's office that lawmakers shouldn't interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Earlier this week, Stumbo said he disagreed with a call by Republican Senate President Robert Stivers for General Assembly leaders to discuss the Legislative Research Commission's ongoing probe in a closed-door session.

When Stivers called for a Sept. 4 meeting between Senate and House leaders, he said it was to learn more about the status of an LRC probe being led by attorney Cheryl Lewis, who was hired by Stumbo's office.

But the speaker balked at that request Wednesday evening.

And on Thursday afternoon, Stumbo announced the petition and an appointment of a special committee to look into the allegations, which could potentially remove Arnold from office.

"This position is inconsistent but that has been his course of conduct over the last 10 days," says Stivers. "While I applaud the speaker for seeking proportional punishment for the alleged acts, that does not resolve the problem of the legislature’s exposure to threatened litigation and money judgments. It also does not resolve the most significant problem which is how to address the culture that has been exposed by the actions of Rep. Arnold."

(Past coverage of the Arnold ethics case from WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.)

Part of this week's dueling statements between Stivers and Stumbo is a bit of political gamesmanship and difference in opinion on how to handle the scandal, which surprised lawmakers in the midst of the special legislative session.

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Politics
8:33 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Senate President Pushes Kentucky Legislative Leaders to Meet on John Arnold Investigation

Senate President Robert Stivers (l) and House Speaker Greg Stumbo (r)
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonburg, is declining to meet with leaders in the General Assembly to discuss an investigation of sexual harassment claims made against Democratic state Rep. John Arnold by Statehouse staffers.

In two separate complaints, Legislative Research Commission employees Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner allege Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them over a period of three years.

A third female staffer, Gloria Morgan, has also come forward claiming Arnold touched her inappropriately in 2009. All three say their supervisors did not do enough to address the complaints. 

Stivers is calling for a closed door session on Sept. 4 with Senate and House leaders to learn more about the status of an investigation into the issue. Because this is a personnel matter, legislative leaders are required to meet in executive session, which requires three of the four highest-ranking lawmakers to be present.

Stivers says since Arnold's accusers have retained legal counsel, it is necessary for lawmakers to know what investigations have been conducted, and what actions may need to be taken.

"I spoke with [Senate Democratic] Leader [R.J.] Palmer and he agreed that we need to call the LRC into executive session on September 4. I have also spoken with [House Republican] Leader [Jeff] Hoover regarding this course of action and he’s in agreement," Stivers said in a statement to WFPL. "The speaker's office has declined to go into session to apprise us of what investigations are going on and who’s conducting them."

The split on the meeting demonstrates a difference in opinion between Stumbo and Stivers in how the complaints should be handled.

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Politics
3:05 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Kentucky Senate President Says Matt Bevin Wants Government to 'Explode' and 'Be Destroyed'

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky state Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says candidates like Mitch McConnell's Tea Party backed primary challenger would rather see the federal government explode and be destroyed than work towards a limited government approach.

The comments come as more GOP state office holders are voicing their support for McConnell over Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.

In public appearances and campaign messages, Bevin, who is endorsed by the United Kentucky Tea Party, has ripped McConnell for not being conservative enough.

Arguing Kentucky deserves better, the Bevin campaign points to McConnell's vote for the bank bailouts, Patriotic Act and debt limit increases as prime examples of him talking like a conservative in the state and caving to Democrats in Washington.

But Stivers says McConnell doesn't control all of what goes on in Washington and has to make difficult choices as leader of the 45-member GOP caucus in the Senate.

"And I think some people—mainly some like Mr. Bevin—would just see government explode and be destroyed and have no government at all," Stivers told WFPL in a telephone interview. "But I think Senator McConnell tries to strike a balance of a necessary evil of having some government and not too much."

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Politics
3:10 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Kentucky General Assembly Nears End. What Passed, What's Left and What's Left for Dead.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers working late Tuesday night.
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky legislators have returned home for the next 12 days after passing a flurry of bills in the recent days of the 2013 General Assembly session.

But many big issues still remain on the table and lawmakers will have two days left—March 25 and 26—to hammer out any remaining issues, including pensions and military voting bills. 

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Politics
11:16 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Kentucky Legislators to Keep Working on Military Voting, Pension Reform After Adjourning Tuesday

Senate President Robert Stivers talks with other legislators.
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

FRANKFORT — Two priorities of Kentucky lawmakers will spill over to the so-called veto period of the 2013 legislative sessions after the issues could not be resolved by the end of Tuesday.

Legislators were unable to compromise on pension reform and the military electronic voting bill before both legislative chambers adjourned until March 25.

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Politics
12:21 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Change Schedule in Hopes of Avoiding Special Session

Kentucky House and Senate leaders have changed the schedule of this year's legislative session to avoid a special session.

A potential—and costly—special session has loomed over the General Assembly in recent days, as lawmakers continued work on pension reform. Instead of convening Friday, lawmakers will work on Tuesday, with hopes that talks started Thursday night could lead to an agreement on pension reform by then.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says those talks have included the Governor and Senate leaders. 

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Politics
11:18 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Beshear Signs Pill Mill Fix Legislation

Credit Melanie Tata/Creative Commons

  Gov. Steve Beshear signed on Tuesday legislation aimed at "fixing" 2012's crackdown on pill mills.

The so-called pill mill fix bill, House Bill 217, exempts hospitals and long term care facilities from constantly running prescribing reports on patients in their care.

But supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers and Beshear said the new legislation doesn't weaken the 2012 efforts to tackle pill mills—pain clinics that abuse their prescription-writing authority for people seeking pain medication for recreational use.

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Politics
11:25 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Kentucky Pension Bills in 'Legislative Purgatory' as Both Chambers Argue Over Procedure

Robert Stivers and Greg Stumbo
Credit Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT — Arguments over how to reform and pay for Kentucky's underfunded pension systems have devolved into legislative chaos.

Both the Kentucky House and the Senate are refusing bills addressing pensions, citing legal or procedural reasons. And leading legislators are blaming each other. 

The 2013 session has eight working days remaining, but doesn't officially close until March 26 to allow time for vetoes and overrides.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the Senate's actions are killing the issue.

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Politics
6:00 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Pension Fixes in Limbo As Leaders Argue Over Approaches

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

 A House bill aiming to help generate revenues for the underfunded pension system is in legal limbo as the Senate refused to accept the bill.

House Bill 416 takes revenues from expansion of Instant Racing and online lottery sales and the start of a Keno game to generate close to $100 million a year to pay into state's currently underfunded pensions for state employees.

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Politics
6:39 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Senate Passes Bill To Shut Down Legislative Pension System

Legislative pension reform is moving forward in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The Kentucky state Senate passed Senate Bill 7 today, which would prevent future members of the General Assembly from participating in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System unless they participated in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System as a member of the General Assembly prior to July 1, 2013.

State Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, says that this is the fourth time since 2005 that the state senate has passed measures on reform.

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