capitol_snowDespite passing the state House by a wide bipartisan majority, several pieces of legislation with a broad range of political support appear to be dead in the current session of the General Assembly after failed attempts to give them votes on the floor of the Senate Wednesday.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, attempted discharge petitions to force a floor vote on HB 1, a constitutional amendment for a local option sales tax, and HB 443, a bill to allow public-private partnerships to finance transportation projects. Both attempts to force a vote failed along party lines, likely ending their chances for passage before the midnight deadline, which begins the governor’s veto period.

The General Assembly reconvenes briefly after that period in two weeks, which is typically devoted to veto overrides before the session officially wraps.

Jones also attempted a discharge petition on HB 145, to enact a statewide smoking ban in public places and places of employment, which failed as well. That legislation passed the state House this session for the first time, by a slim 51-46 margin.

All three bills have a wide range of support, from most Democrats and Gov. Steve Beshear to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Both Beshear and the chamber placed the passage of these bills high on their wish lists this session. They’ll likely have to wait until next year.

Beshear did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Bryan Sunderland, spokesman for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, tells Insider Louisville they aren’t giving up hope just yet.

“Nothing is truly dead until the General Assembly adjourns sine die,” wrote Sunderland in an email. “We remain engaged on a number of issues that we are working to advance.”

Chirs Poynter, spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer — whose top legislative priority over the past two years has been passage of the local option sales tax — concurred, telling IL “it’s not over until they gavel out for the session.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, appeared to publicly relish the fate of Jones’ discharge petitions immediately after the votes, chalking it up to the spoils of their wide majority in the chamber:



The fate of HB 8, legislation to grant civil domestic violence protective orders for dating partners who have never lived together or share a child, is also racing the clock but could receive a vote later tonight. Kentucky is the only state in the country that doesn’t allow such orders.

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]