Repubican Senate Leader Responds To Beshear's Health Initiatives

Jan 7, 2014

Gov. Steve Beshear stressed job creation and education in Tuesday's speech, but he was arguably at his most passionate on health issues.

After praising the success of the state’s health benefits exchange, the governor said the state needs to go further, passing a statewide smoke-free law and banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

"Other goals will include reducing the number of uninsured in Kentucky, cutting our obesity rate, reducing cancer deaths by increasing screening rates, and requiring HPV vaccinations for both young girls and young boys," Beshear said.

A smoke-free law, however, may be a non-starter in the Republican-led Senate. In a post-address press conference, Senate President Robert Stivers said he and the governor don’t see eye to eye on the issue.

"It is a philosophical disagreement that we have that I don't believe that if Joe wants to have a pool room or a cigar bar or restaurant in which he allows smoking the government should step in," the Republican leader argued.

In addition, the governor outlined a tax reform package he plans to present to lawmakers in the coming weeks, which would include a local options sales tax option for cities. He also reiterated his commitment to finding more money for education, even if it means inflicting harmful cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Senator Stivers expressed support for the ideas, but cautioned that he is awaiting specifics from the administration on both issues.