State Senator Joe Bowen issues Open Lette
Owensboro native and Kentucky 8th district Senator Joe Bowen issued the following letter to the voters this week. He discusses the upcoming legislative session and looks to the next two year budget.
As most of you are aware, the 2012 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly will gavel in at 12 noon, January 3, 2012. Being an even numbered year, this is considered a long session.
Much has been made of the fiscal challenges that lay ahead for your legislators and particularly those of us on the Appropriation & Revenue Committee. The spending plan has not been overstated, and only through prudent and practical measures will we be able to craft a responsible bi-annual budget. The fact that we are facing a projected $500 million shortfall over the biennium speaks volumes to the problem we are faced with resolving.
In addition to the budget, we will have to carve out new legislative, congressional, and judicial districts. I expect us to move quickly on this issue as most of the heavy lifting seems to have been done. Having said this, the alignment of the 1st, 2nd, and 5th congressional districts still remains unresolved and could stir heated debate.
The “Road Plan” for the next two years will understandably occupy a considerable amount of time this winter for my colleagues and me. Our new Medicaid Managed Care Plan is off to a predictably rocky start and is sure to demand precious hours out of the legislative calendar.
While the budget, reapportionment, the road plan, unfunded mandates, and Medicaid Managed Care are the central issues, we obviously have a host of public policy initiatives that will divide our time as well. Sudafed as a prescription drug, illegal immigration, informed consent, a state debt ceiling, tweaking the penal code reform that was passed last year, and county jails are just a few other topics that will surely surface. The Governor, on the coattails of the election, has decided to reintroduce expanded gambling. This topic has the potential to dominate a session in and of itself, so its place at an already crowded table will be interesting to see.
While the interim has been full and I have enjoyed working and listening to many of you, I look forward to even more contact during the session. To leave a message for me, your House member, or any other legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at (800) 372-7181. People with hearing impairments may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at (808) 896-0305.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you, and I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.