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Stop the power grab, save our constitution and vote no on Amendment 1

Berry Craig
22 Sep, 2022
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AFT Local 1360


Pack a union card?

Try to imagine the union-busting tag team of Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne being able to call special sessions of the General Assembly any time they wished.

They could under the proposed Amendment 1, which will be on the ballot Nov. 8. Simply put, if the measure passes, it would be open season on working families.

Since Kentucky statehood in 1792, the state constitution has granted the governor the power to call special legislative sessions. Like the framers of the U.S. constitution, the drafters of the first Kentucky constitution—and the three others that followed—were wary of an all-powerful legislature like the British parliament that had lorded it over those 13 colonies and led them to part company with the Mother Country on less than amicable terms in the 1770s.

So the founders of our nation and our state deliberately divided power between an executive, legislative and judicial branch.

Stivers and Osborne, who head anti-working family supermajorities in each chamber, are pushing Amendment 1 because they simply want more power. More time, too.

More than once, they've run out of time to pass legislation that was so extreme that they couldn't get together on it. (Under our state constitution, the General Assembly can meet only 30 legislative days on odd-numbered years and 60 legislative days on even-numbered years. Amendment 1 would permit the legislature to change the end date via a three-fifths vote in the House and Senate.)

Funny how self-style conservatives like Stivers and Osborne claim to be ever-vigilant guardians of constitutional government, isn’t it? Amendment 1 would take a sledge-hammer to the separation of powers principle--those "checks-and-balances" we learned about in school--that has worked pretty well in Washington and Frankfort for a long time.

“The majority party has already come for the governor’s executive powers,” said Liles Taylor, Kentucky State AFL-CIO political coordinator. “In the wake of the governor’s lifesaving leadership during COVID, they responded by removing or limiting many of his emergency powers--which has hindered his response to both the Western Kentucky tornados and the Eastern Kentucky floods."

Added Taylor: “These special sessions would also mean another pay raise--as legislators are paid according to a daily rate of pay, not a flat salary or even an hourly rate. And that is after they just gave themselves a raise this past session.”

Amendment 1 is a blatant political power grab. It richly deserves a resounding defeat at the polls.