Kentucky General Assembly Convenes Under New Republican Control

Jan 3, 2017

Credit Ryland Barton, WFPL

Republicans are officially the majority party in the state House of Representatives for the first time since 1921, putting the party in control of the legislature and the governorship for the first time in state history.

As expected, Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, was elected House Speaker after serving as the leader of the minority party for 15 years.

On Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session, Hoover called for unity.

“Those who were a part of making this historic day in the commonwealth of Kentucky possible, my message is: The campaign is now over. It’s a part of history and the job before us is now to begin the governing process,” Hoover said.

Republicans have 64 of the 100 seats in the state House, adding to their supermajority in the state Senate and control of the governorship. The trifecta means that Republicans will have control of the legislative process, meaning they will be able to easily pass bills if they stay united.

“The people of Kentucky have expressed their desire for change,” Hoover said. “The people of Kentucky have expressed a desire for a new direction. The people of Kentucky are depending on this body to provide a climate in this state where they can see great new opportunities for themselves and their families.”

With supermajorities in both legislative chambers, the party is poised to pass conservative policies long thwarted by Democrats. The list includes right-to-work legislation, anti-abortion policies, repeal of the prevailing wage on public works projects and tort reform.

After the proceedings on Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin said he was excited about Republicans taking control of the legislature.

“We won’t be introducing hundreds and hundreds of pieces of legislation that have no chance of going anywhere, that take up time that distract from the substantive things,” Bevin said. “I’m excited to see both in the House and the Senate the type of work on behalf of the people of Kentucky that’s going to get uncorked in the next days and weeks.”

The legislative session lasts until Mar. 30 but will disband for a planned break from Jan. 9 until February 6.

This story will be updated.