Few Profiles in Courage

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Few Profiles in Courage  Posted: March 7, 2003
The decision yesterday by Senator Dan Kelly and Senate Leadership to bend to the oil and gas industry lobby and to push HB 458 from Committee through Rules and to the Senate Floor for a vote in one day in order to avoid any floor amendments, marks a low point in the session. Despite bipartisan concerns raised in the committee over the lack of any deadline by which the state would have to adopt standards and the lack of linkage between the preemption of local government authority (immediate) and the adoption of state standards (no mandated date), leadership avoided the attempted filing of a floor amendment by Senator Leeper to put in place a 6-month deadline and to preserve local government authority until then, by rushing the bill through the same day that it was approved in committee, and sent it back to the House for concurrence. House leadership must now decide where it stands -- on the side of protecting the public or enabling those who abuse landowners rights.

One recalls the story told about FDR during his first term. One restless night, Eleanor asked Franklin why he couldn't sleep. "I authorized the plowing under of grain crops in order to stabilize the market prices, and I can't sleep for hearing the cries of hungry children." "Well," she said, ever practical, "put some cotton in your ears." "I can't," responded her husband, "I had that plowed under too!"

Sen. Kelly and the 25 other Senators who voted for HB 458 turned a deaf ear to the concerns of those whose rights have been abused by the oil and gas industry, as the Senators plowed under the authority of local governments to protect their citizens and left the public without any protection for an indefinite period of time, until an agency never known for a tough regulatory stance, determines to adopt regulations. In a session where there is little of which to be proud, the "no" votes of the House Committee members and other Representatives on the floor, and the efforts of Senator Leeper, the floor statement of Senator Shaughnessy, and the votes of the other few Senators who opposed this bill, and the floor opposition to the bill in the House by Representative Jim Wayne, showed a real courage so lacking in a session long on politics and short on compassion.

The bill returns now to the House, where House leaders Greg Stumbo, Jody Richards, Joe Barrows, Jim Callahan and Larry Clark can put this irresponsible bill to rest and demand that, if the oil and gas industry wants to be free of local regulation, they come with a bill that first establishes a comprehensive, effective state program to protect against their abusive members.

Voting "no" on HB 458 in the Senate: Blevins, Karem, Leeper, Mongiardo, Neal, Palmer, Saunders, Scorsone, Shaugnessy, Turner. Those who did not vote on HB 458 were: Casebier and Jones.

Voting "no" on HB 458 in the House: Bather, Belcher, Bratcher, Cornett, Embry, Feeley, Graham, Hall, Higdon, Jenkins, Kerr, Marzian, Meeks, Moberly, Nelson, Palumbo, Pasley, Reinhardt, Richards, Riggs, Riner, Simpson, A. Smith, B. Smith, Walton, Wayne

Not voting on HB 458: Ballard, D.D. Butler, Crenshaw, Draud, Farmer, Lindsay, Miller, Napier, Nunn, Stein

By Kentucky Resources Council on 03/07/2003 5:32 PM
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