FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The incoming GOP majority for the Kentucky House of Representatives has chosen 13 men and four women to act as gatekeepers for the hundreds of bills expected to be filed when the legislature convenes next month.
Incoming House Speaker Jeff Hoover announced committee chairs on Wednesday as Republicans gathered in Bowling Green for the start of their three-day retreat. Republicans won a majority in the state House last month for the first time in nearly 100 years, giving the GOP control of every southern state legislature.
The selections included Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah to lead the powerful Appropriations and Revenue Committee that writes the state budget. Rep. Jerry T. Miller of Louisville, an ally of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, will lead the State Government committee that will examine the state’s woeful public pension system. And Rep. Addia Wuchner of Florence, a retired nurse and hospital administrator, will lead the Health and Family Services committee that will likely vet the slew of anti-abortion legislation expected to be filed by the Republican majority.
“Obviously in all of these we have a learning curve,” Hoover said. “Most of the committee chairs … have been around, but they have never been in position of actually leading the charge.”
Hoover and his team opted for experience with most of their selections, choosing former 8th grade social studies teacher John Carney to lead the Education Committee and insurance company owner Bart Rowland to lead the Banking and Insurance Committee. Two former Democrats were rewarded with chairmanships after switching parties, including Jim Gooch, who lost his seat as chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee when he switched parties last year only to get it back on Wednesday.
And, in at least one instance, hard feelings were put to rest. Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger challenged Hoover for his leadership spot last year after a disappointing election where Republicans failed to dislodge Democrats’ control of the chamber. But Wednesday, Hoover appointed Koenig chairman of the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative regulations committee, which oversees the state’s signature bourbon and horse racing industries.
“Adam and I reconciled shortly after that leadership election, and we are much closer as colleagues and as friends,” Hoover said. “I think he is the most qualified person for that position.”
While the committee chairs are set, the committees themselves have yet to be filled. Hoover said he plans to make those appointments during the first week of the legislative session.