Kentucky judge: highway bill a no-go

| 8/7/2008

A Kentucky judge has ruled that the General Assembly in the state cannot stop the clock and work beyond its constitutional deadline.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that a bill that sought to authorize money for road work is invalid because it was not forwarded to Gov. Steve Beshear before midnight on the final day of the legislative session earlier this year.

Shepherd said that lawmakers cannot act after midnight on the final day of the regular session. The ruling was handed down in response to a lawsuit filed by Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, on the constitutionality of the Democratic governor’s veto of the bill – HB79 – and Beshear’s decision to more forward with an alternative roads plan that lawmakers had not approved.

The vetoed roads bill would have authorized a $3.8 billion, six-year road construction plan. Shepherd said he would still consider whether Beshear may spend money on road work not specifically authorized by the General Assembly, The Associated Press reported.

The state’s House and Senate are limited to 60 legislative days each year. They cannot work beyond April 15. This year, as the midnight deadline approached, both chambers stopped their clocks for about one hour. The extra time allowed legislators to agree on several bills, which included the roads plan.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kentucky in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor