Republicans in the Kentucky House of Representatives have selected a new set of leaders for the upcoming legislative session and nominated a new speaker for the first time since Rep. Jeff Hoover stepped down from the position early this year amid a sexual harassment scandal.
The Republican caucus nominated David Osborne to be the next speaker. As the current Speaker Pro Tem, Osborne has been the acting speaker of the House since Hoover resigned, though the chamber never formally voted to replace him.
In a news conference, Osborne said he was excited for the next two years of Republican dominance in the legislature.
“We’ve done a lot of good things over the last two years and the people of Kentucky affirmed our actions over the last two years. They’ve acknowledged the fact that we’ve moved Kentucky forward,” Osborne said.
Republicans won control of the House for the first in nearly a century back in 2016, giving them control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion for the first time in state history.
As a result, in the 2017 session the legislature passed major GOP priorities like right-to-work legislation, a repeal of the prevailing wage, anti-abortion legislation and a charter schools bill.
And in this year’s session, lawmakers made controversial changes to the pension system and workers’ compensation.
Democrats hoped that the controversial bills would gin up support for legislative candidates during this year’s elections, especially among teachers and other state workers angry over the pension changes.
But Republicans only had a net loss of two races in the House, leaving them with 61 seats for the upcoming session.
But the caucus was divided in the wake of revelations that Hoover and three other Republican lawmakers secretly signed a settlement with a former employee who said she had been sexually harassed by the men.
Osborne declined to reveal vote totals for the leadership elections or if he had opposition, but said the caucus was a “family.”
“Leadership races are sometimes contentious, but I think the conversations that went on before and after and during the elections, quite frankly, were very congenial and ones that signaled a great deal of unity,” Osborne said.
Osborne will have to be officially elected by the full House of Representatives when the legislature goes back into session, as will the nominee for House Speaker Pro Tem, David Meade of Stanford.
Republicans also elected Campbellsville Rep. Bam Carney to be Majority Floor Leader, Bardstown Rep. Chad McCoy to be Majority Whip, and Owensboro Rep. Suzanne Miles to be Majority Caucus Chair.
Miles is the second woman ever elected to House leadership. Miles said she didn’t see her election as “breaking the glass ceiling.”
“We don’t serve as male or female, any color or things like that. We serve as our job description and what people sent us here to do,” Miles said.