A day after delivering his State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Steve Beshear began pitching his legislative agenda directly to lawmakers.
Beshear met with the members of the House Democratic caucus for about an hour Wednesday and said he plans to attend a luncheon with the full Senate Thursday.
The Democratic governor did not offer specific proposals for issues such as tax reform during the hourlong talk, but he said Wednesday’s meeting proved productive in setting his agenda for the session.
“We’re just starting up this session, and we wanted to have an initial meeting with the House Democratic caucus to talk about the session, about issues that we’ll be dealing with as we go along and about all the things I talked about last night,” Beshear said.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Wednesday’s meeting “may be as good as I’ve ever seen in 35 years up here.”
He said Beshear sat with the caucus, giving the meeting the feel of a dinner table conversation.
“A lot of governors come to promote things and promote their agenda,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said. “He wanted to explain where he was and why he was doing things, assure people that he wanted to work with them. It was more of a learning process than a selling process.”
Beshear laid out his legislative goals during his annual speech Tuesday, with reinvesting in education a top priority in his still unfinished budget proposal. To help fund that initiative, Beshear said he will push the General Assembly to consider reforming Kentucky’s “archaic” tax system and expanded gaming to boost the state’s tax revenues.
Beshear also said he will support a statewide smoking ban, extending domestic violence protection to dating partners, combating heroin’s resurgence, banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, expanding booster seat regulations to those up to 9 years old and 57 inches tall and creating “no-phone zones” where drivers cannot talk on phones while driving to protect school children and construction workers.
Though Beshear will meet with the entire Senate Thursday, he said he plans to meet with the Republican majority “a lot this session” on numerous topics.
“We’ve had a good working relationship,” Beshear said, “and I’m going to keep that up.”