Kentucky’s normally mild-mannered governor, Steve Beshear, was visibly upset last night, as the annual 60-day session of the General Assembly came to an end without voting of several important pieces of legislation. The bicameral legislators adjourned at midnight, but they failed to pass either the state's $4.5 billion highway construction plan or the much-debated prescription drug abuse prevention bill.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the session, the governor lambasted Senator David Williams—the Republican Senate President—for obstructing pending legislation; thereby costing taxpayers money by effectively forcing the Democratic governor to call the legislators back to Frankfort for a special session.
Today, Beshear issued a proclamation calling for a special session to begin Monday at noon. He wants lawmakers to finish work on the transportation plan and reconsider the prescription pill measure.
Gov. Beshear’s remarks to reporters late last night were particularly critical of Sen. Williams:
“For twelve years, Kentucky and Kentuckians have suffered at the hands of Senate President David Williams. His rank partisanship, his obstructionist attitude has caused numerous special sessions and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses in conducting business that ought to be done in regular sessions …
“We had hopes that he had learned a lesson from the general election last November and he would take a different attitude. We were glad when for the first time in the last six years, we were actually able to pass the executive budget in the regular session. However, my happiness did not last long because the old David Williams surfaced once again, and he has caused the Senate to refuse to pass the Transportation Budget bill. Without the Transportation budget bill, we can’t fund any of the projects in the Transportation Plan that had been passed.
“In addition, he has caused the failure of House Bill 4, the bill that would have allowed Kentucky to take an aggressive stance against illegal prescription drug abuse. By his failure and by his actions in not allowing that bill to pass the Senate, he is responsible for the continuing agony of hundreds of thousands of families around this state who have members who are suffering from various types of drug abuse. We need that bill. …
“I am going to be issuing a call for a special session of the General Assembly to begin on this next Monday at 12 noon. The call will have on it the Transportation budget bill and House Bill 4, which is the prescription drug abuse bill. It’s time that people of this state know loudly and clearly what the problem is here. If you go back twelve years, it covers three Governors. Two Democrats and a Republican. Every one of us have had the same problems with Sen. Williams. Special session after special session after special session. The one common denominator is Sen. Williams.”