State Sen. Damon Thayer

Politics
8:12 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Mitch McConnell Supports a Kentucky State Bill Days After Saying He Generally Doesn't Do That

Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told RollCall on Wednesday that he supports a bill filed in the Kentucky state legislature that aids his junior Senate counterpart—less than a week after he said he doesn't take positions on state-level legislation.

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Politics
4:33 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Republican State Senator Damon Thayer Hits Breaks on Kentucky Felon Voting Rights

Kentucky Senator Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown,
Credit File photo

A Republican leader in the Kentucky Senate says GOP members are not warming to the restoration of felon voting rights despite U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's support of the issue.

The response comes days after Paul staffers said they had been in contact with state lawmakers about the voting rights of ex-convicts

Democratic Senator Gerald Neal of Louisville told WFPL he was beginning to see opposition to his proposal wane earlier this week.

Neal's bill would automatically restore the civil rights of certain convicted felons unless they committed an intentional killing, treason, bribery or a sex crime.

Paul spokesman Dan Bayens said no specific bill has been discussed. However, GOP state senators appeared to be "more open to the conversation" than in years past he said.

But Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown made it clear it's too early to make predictions and that other issues remain a priority.

"It’s way too early for pundits to start handicapping the chances of legislation that may or may not pass sometime between January and April when we adjourn the session," he says.

The GOP holds a 23-seat majority in the 38-member state Senate. The one independent caucuses with the Republicans.

If felons' rights are to come up in the 2014 General Assembly it might have to be tied to a more conservative measure such as a possible voter ID bill in order to pass.

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Politics
4:25 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Dwindling Tea Party Support Among GOP May Impact Matt Bevin's Insurgency

Credit Tim Pierce/Creative Commons

A new poll finds fewer Americans support the Tea Party movement and the noticeable dip among Republican voters could impact Kentucky’s U.S. Senate GOP primary race.

According to a Gallup survey conducted earlier this month, opponents of the Tea Party outnumber supporters by a 27 percent to 22 percent.

Most are indifferent to the movement, but the poll shows the Tea Party's favorable rating among GOP voters is 38 percent compared to 65 percent in 2010.

Those numbers could put a damper on Louisville businessman Matt Bevin's primary hopes as he seeks to overthrow incumbent Mitch McConnell with heavy Tea Party support in the state.

Observers say the low approval numbers are a sign the Tea Party is being blamed for the gridlock in Washington in the face of a possible government shutdown.

"It's so much easier to rail against the establishment, people like that when you show enthusiasm and energy," says University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton. "But once you become the establishment and you actually have to govern things change somewhat. One of the reasons the Tea Party is falling out of favor with many Americans is because people are seeing them as part of problem in Washington now."

Clayton says it's hard to compare Bevin's 2014 bid to Rand Paul's insurgency GOP primary candidacy for a number of reasons, but says the Tea Party doesn't appear to have the same strength it did in 2010.

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Politics
2:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Kentucky Senate Republican Leader Open to Giving Felon Voting Rights a Second Look

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown,
Credit File photo

A day after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul called on Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky General Assembly to give restoration of felon voting rights a second look, a prominent GOP state senator says the caucus might be open to the idea.

Speaking at the Plymouth Community Renewal Center earlier this week, Paul said U.S. drug laws disproportionately effect racial minorities.

One of the consequences, Paul said, is voter disenfranchisement for African-Americans.

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Politics
12:01 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

State GOP Lawmaker Compares Matt Bevin Candidacy to 'Don Quixote' Fantasy

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, is backing McConnell over Bevin
Credit File photo

The entry of Louisville businessman Matt Bevin into the U.S. Senate race has Kentucky Republicans discussing who is the more conservative between the investor and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But one state GOP lawmaker is urging the party to remain loyal to McConnell for standing up to President Obama's agenda.

A coalition of Tea Party groups in the state are backing Bevin’s candidacy and outside groups have indicated they’re willing to do so as well.

The primary challenge to McConnell has gained national attention for an already high-profiled race.

McConnell's campaign have referred to Bevin as a "nuisance" and "con man" in the past week, and are pressuring Kentucky TV stations to take down the challenger's first ad for alleged federal election violations.

Observers say this is unchartered territory politically, but the early defense amongst McConnell's supporters is he remains the person who can best advocate for conservative values in Washington.

State Senator Damon Thayer is majority floor whip who represents parts of northern Kentucky, which is heavily Republican. He says McConnell is a conservative leader despite Tea Party criticisms, adding this primary contest won't split the GOP.

"I know what it's like to have a Tea Party primary. I had one last year, and I got 63 percent of the vote. And that's because a lot of Tea Party folks stuck with me because of my conservative values. And I think there will be a large number of Tea Party folks joining with mainstream Republicans to give Mitch a big victory in the primary," he says. "I’ve met Matt a couple times, he’s obviously successful and a nice guy. But he’s a rookie engaging in a Don Quixote-like episode of jousting at windmills that ultimately will prove unsuccessful for him."

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Politics
8:14 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Kentucky General Assembly Passes Pension Bills, Avert Special Session

Greg Stumbo and Damon Thayer
Credit Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT — Kentucky's legislative leaders have passed two bills to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems, effectively staving off a special session on the issue.

The new plan would reduce a personal tax credit of $20 to $10, generating about $33 million in revenue that would go to General Fund, but lawmakers would use it for pensions. The plan would also use revenue from technical changes in the state's tax code, as well as money from federal tax changes.

Overall, the plan would generate $96 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $100 million in 2016 fiscal year.

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Politics
12:07 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Considering Plan for Pension Reform, But Compromise Appears Uncertain

Greg Stumbo and Damon Thayer
Credit Legislative Research Commission

With only one day left in this year's legislative session, Kentucky House leaders are hopeful they have a deal to up shore up the state's underfunded pension system. But there may not be time to get it through the legislature. 

House Democrats' are building support for a proposal that uses technical wrangling of revenue sources to cut some taxes while raising other funds to pay for pension reform. The current proposal would cut the gasoline tax by one cent, resulting in a loss of funds for the state road fund.

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Politics
3:12 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Compromise Reached, Special Taxing District Reform to Become Law

Adam Edelen
Credit File photo

Kentucky lawmakers reached a deal Monday in a conference committee on legislation addressing issues with special taxing districts.

The committee adopted a new proposal that would require special districts to present their annual budgets or any new fee increases to their local fiscal court. But the compromise on House Bill 1 does not allow the fiscal court veto or approval powers of the special district's actions, as Senate Republicans had recently suggested.

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Politics
5:22 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Kentucky Senate Changes Special Taxing District Reform; House Objects

Damon Thayer
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Changes to a bill reforming how special taxing districts operate in Kentucky could kill the legislation in the final days of the General Assembly session.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican and the majority floor leader, introduced the changes in committee on Wednesday which give local governments veto powers over possible rate increases by special districts. Those changes later passed off the Senate floor. 

Special taxing districts are usually sewer districts, library boards or other quasi-governmental public service entities.

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Politics
3:05 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Auditor Adam Edelen to State Senators: Don't Amend Special Taxing Districts Bill

Adam Edelen
Credit File photo

State Auditor Adam Edelen is encouraging Senate lawmakers not to tweak the special district taxing district reform bill, which is largely based on his proposals from a report last year.

The Senate State and Local Government committee discussed the bill for more than an hour, but did not vote on House Bill 1 because Sen. Damon Thayer says he's attempting to amend the bill.  Thayer's main concerns are giving control of a new registry of special districts to the Department of Local Government and that local elected officials often don't have control of a special district.

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