A new crop of committee chairs will wield gavels in the state House of Representatives starting Jan. 3, when Republicans assume control of the chamber for the first time in 95 years.
Standing committees are the first line of review for bills being considered by the General Assembly; legislation must pass out of a committee before going to a floor vote.
Chairs of standing committees are appointed by the House Speaker and have wide discretion in deciding which bills get heard by committees. They also moderate discussions between lawmakers and advocates who testify for or against legislation.
Incoming House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the new group is made up of experienced policymakers, even if they haven’t led the charge before.
“We picked those that we thought were ready, were capable and ready to go to work and spend the time and make the commitment necessary and we’re excited about the team we have in place,” Hoover said.
Only one newly appointed chair has held the position before — Rep. Jim Gooch, who presided over the Democratic-led House’s Natural Resources committee until he switched his party affiliation to Republican last year. Gooch will chair the committee again.
Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville is the only of the 17 new chairs of standing committees to hail from Kentucky’s largest cities. Urban and Tea Party-leaning Northern Kentucky is well represented in the new class as well as rural Western and South Central Kentucky.
Miller will chair the State Government committee, which would hear legislation dealing with the state’s ailing pension systems.
Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah will chair the Appropriations and Revenue committee, which writes the House’s version of the budget bill every two years.
Rep. Addia Wuchner of Florence will head up the Health and Family Services committee, which will likely hear anti-abortion legislation.
Rep.-elect Jason Nemes of Louisville will be the only freshman lawmaker to head up one of the panels, leading the budget review subcommittee for Justice, Public Safety and Judiciary. Nemes previously directed the Administrative Office of the Courts and was chief of staff for the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The House will also feature a new committee on Small Business and Information Technology that Hoover said will focus on economic development issues.
“We don’t think in recent years that’s always been the case, we really want to do that for small business owners around the state,” Hoover said.
Here’s the full list of 2017-2018 committee chairs.
- Agriculture: Richard Heath, Mayfield
- Appropriations & Revenue: Steven Rudy, Paducah
- Banking & Insurance: Bart Rowland, Tompkinsville
- Economic Development & Workforce Investment: Jim DeCesare, Bowling Green
- Education: John Carney, Campbellsville
- Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs: Kenny Imes, Murray
- Enrollment: Donna Mayfield, Winchester
- Heath & Family Services: Addia Wuchner, Florence
- Judiciary: Joe Fischer, Ft. Thomas
- Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations:Adam Koenig, Erlanger
- Local Government: Michael Lee Meredith, Brownsville
- Natural Resources & Energy: Jim Gooch, Providence
- Small Business & Information Technology: Diane St. Onge, Lakeside Park
- State Government: Jerry T. Miller, Eastwood
- Tourism & Outdoor Recreation: Tommy Turner, Somerset
- Transportation: Marie Rader, Mckee
- Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection: Tim Moore, Elizabethtown
Budget Review Sub Committees:
- Economy, Public Protection, Tourism & Energy: Jill York, Grayson
- Personnel, Public Retirement & Finance: Brian Linder, Dry Ridge
- General Government (Including Coal Severance): Suzanne Miles, Owensboro
- Justice, Public Safety & Judiciary: Jason Nemes, Louisville
- Primary/Secondary Education & Workforce Development:Regina Bunch, Williamsburg
- PostSecondary Education: James Tipton, Taylorsville
- Transportation: Sal Santoro, Florence
- Health & Family Services: Russell Webber, Shepherdsville
- Administrative Regulation Review: Ken Upchurch, Monticello
- Government Contract Review: Stan Lee, Lexington
- Program Review & Investigations: Lynn Bechler, Marion
- Capital Planning Advisory Board: Daniel Elliott, Danville
- Capital Projects & Bond Oversight: Phil Moffett, Louisville
- Public Pension Oversight: Brian Linder, Dry Ridge
- Tobacco Settlement Oversight: Myron Dossett, Pembroke
- Education Assessment & Accountability Review: Daniel Elliott, Danville
- Medicaid Oversight & Advisory: Kim Moser, Taylor Mill
Special Committees & Task Forces
- LRC Committee on Tourism & Development: Ken Upchurch, Monticello
- Special Subcommittee on Energy: Tim Couch, Hyden
- Federal Environment Regulation Impact Assessment Task Force: Tim Couch, Hyden
- Free-Roaming Horse Task Force: John Blanton, Salyersville
- Government Nonprofit Contracting Task Force: Brandon Reed, Hodgenville
- Heroin Task Force: Danny Bentley, Russell
- Workers’ Compensation Task Force: Matt Castlen, Maceo
This story has been updated