Local/Regional News
1:42 am
Wed April 16, 2014

General Assembly Ends Session Without Rupp Funding, Heroin Bill

The final hours of the 2014 legislative session were largely consumed by an ill-fated push to approve anti-heroin legislation.

Credit Josh James / WUKY

At midnight, the gavel came down in the state Senate. With it came a compromise $5.1 billion dollar road plan and a handful of last minute twists. The road-building plan, which maintains about $154 million for projects in Fayette County, cleared both chambers without discussion Tuesday night, largely removing the threat of a special session.

But several issues came down to the wire. One of the most contentious, a bill aimed at curbing the state’s growing heroin epidemic, failed to emerge from the House in the final minutes.

"What we had was an agreement really on everything. The attorney general's office and I talked through the process. In the end, there were just a couple sticking points.," said Rep. John Tilley.

Still, Senate President Robert Stivers called the House’s failure to pass the bill “tragic” and worthy of special session in itself.

"This was the bill that everyone in the legislature and the governor's office knew needed to be passed... 26 people have passed away in Northern Kentucky since the beginning of the session. The House has failed to even take a floor vote on that bill," Stivers charged.

Other efforts that did not gain traction include an attempt to push for an amended version of House Bill 70, which would have automatically restored former felons voting rights with an option for the General Assembly to add a three year probation, and an eleventh hour press for a revised Rupp Arena funding plan.

Fayette Sen. Reggie Thomas lamented the lack of momentum on Mayor Jim Gray’s chief legislative priority.

"You would have a net economic impact in the Bluegrass of nearly half a billion dollars. We don't have that now. Jobs, almost 5000. We don't have that now," Thomas said.

So far Gov. Beshear has not indicated whether he will call a special session to pass Rupp funding. In a statement, Beshear said he will continue to “seek ways to bring this project to fruition.”