Bills bottleneck in legislature's final week

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 24, 2014 at 5:18 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The federal government is holding an estimated $200 million of Kentuckians' money, and state treasurer Todd Hollenbach wants it back.

The Democrat is pushing legislation in the state General Assembly that would reclassify about $200 million worth of unclaimed U.S. savings bonds, making the state of Kentucky the official owner of the money - modeled after similar legislation in Kansas.

The bill passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled state Senate last week. But its fate in the House is uncertain. It is one of 259 bills that are in limbo as state lawmakers enter the final week of the 2014 legislative session. Of the 824 bills filed this year, only 26 have passed both bodies and eight have become law - a byproduct of Democrats controlling the House and Republicans controlling the Senate.

"Anything perceived to be of importance to one chamber is kept (from passing)," said Gene McLean, a veteran statehouse lobbyist. "You have 60 legislative days and as you've witnessed not much has happened, nothing really of significance. And everything comes down to the end and then you see a lot of trading back and forth. I don't think anybody ever perceived that it should work that way, but it's just kind of the political reality."

Kentucky is one of five states - including Iowa, New Hampshire, New York and Virginia - where political control is split among the House and Senate. Nebraska has a nonpartisan, unicameral legislature.

Kentucky lawmakers have one week to pass a $20 billion biennial budget, a $4.5 billion biennial plan to improve the state's roads and bridges and a bill setting state revenues for the next two years that includes a gas tax increase in the House version. The Senate passed its version of the spending plans on Monday, while the revenue bill is likely to pass on Wednesday.

Also pending is:

-HB.70: a bill that would restore voting rights to convicted felons. The bill gained national attention when U.S. Sen. Rand Paul testified before a Senate committee about it. Different versions have passed the House and Senate, but the two sides have yet to work out a compromise.

Continue reading this story on the...