Over at KentuckyProgress, they note a truly reprehensible piece of legislation proposed by a member of the Kentucky legislature. This travesty has passed the Budget Committee and could easily pass the state Senate and be signed by the governor unless Kentuckians scream loudly and immediately.

The item in question is House Bill 184, proposed by the state Budget Committee Chairman Harry Moberly (Democrat, Kentucky House District 81), the text of which you can read here:
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/RECORD/07RS/HB184/bill.doc

The summary says this: “Amend KRS 48.310, relating to the operation of the budget bill, to reaffirm that the General Assembly has the power to suspend, modify, amend, create, repeal, and repeal and reenact statutes in the budget bill; amend KRS 48.316 to conform; make the amendment retroactive.”

In other words, Moberly proposes to officially allow the state legislature to use a budget bill to change, create, or repeal laws that have absolutely nothing to do with the state budget. Language in the proposal also says that such changes to unrelated laws may extend pass the expiration date of the budget bill in question. It effectively lets the Budget Committee change Kentucky law on any subject, in the secrecy of a committee room, and without any vote that really matters (assuming that most legislators will not want the headache of having to vote against a state budget in order to protest a trojan horse or earmark within that budget.)

Particularly given the importance of a state’s budget, as related to other things state government does, a budget act seems the least appropriate place to encourage or allow a small group of legislators to insert their pet projects, favors for big donors, earmarks, etc. And, as I said before, given the importance of the budget and the reluctance of a legislator to be seen as holding up the funding of all of state government, it is less likely that such inappropriate items will be challenged.

[I’m not going to dig through prior budget bills, but the fact that the bill proposes to make the change retroactive makes me think the Budget Committee has snuck things into prior budget bills which might not stand up to constitutional scrutiny if challenged. If so, I hope someone finds them and challenges them.]

Mr. Moberly, after 26 years in the same elected seat, is clearly in love with his own political power. The audacity to propose transfering power from the General Assembly itself to the committee he runs makes Moberly the best poster boy for term limits I’ve seen in a very long time.

For any of my readers who live in Kentucky, I urge you in the strongest possible way to contact your representative in the state legislature and demand that he/she vote against this reprehensible piece of legislation. If you are not sure who your legislator is or how to reach him/her, you can go to this web page to find the answers:
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/whoswho.htm

You can contact Mr. Moberly by email at Harry.Moberly@lrc.ky.gov. His office phone numbers are (859) 622-1501 and (502) 564-8100, ext. 607. While I’m not entirely comfortable giving out his home phone number, it is listed on his Kentucky Legislature page at:
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/legislator/H081.htm

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