FRANKFORT — Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, two weeks ago said the Senate has a tradition of refraining from acting on legislation on matters that are then in litigation.
But on the final day of the 2012 General Assembly, Stivers filed an amendment to a budget bill which ended the city of Corbin’s suit seeking to force Knox County to allow it to keep a portion of the county’s occupational license tax while the matter was still before Knox Circuit Court.
Stivers made the statement about the Senate’s reluctance to interfere in matters before the courts after Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, filed a bill to legalize instant racing.
Instant racing allows bettors to wager on thoroughbred races which have already occurred without the bettor’s knowledge of which horse ran. A suit challenging the constitutionality of instant racing is currently before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
When Stivers was asked about Turner’s bill on Feb. 15, Stivers said: “We have been pretty consistent (in the Senate) in my 16 or 17 years that, while things are in litigation, the legislature shouldn’t involve themselves.”
Asked how he reconciled that statement with his 2012 amendment, which ended Corbin’s court action against Knox County, Stivers replied, “It wasn’t in court. It had been decided. The appellate process was over. It had gone through the appellate courts and to my understanding nothing was pending on it at any level.”
But the court record and the attorney representing Corbin contradict Stivers.
“The matter was absolutely still before the court when Stivers filed his floor amendment,” said Nicholas Birkenhauer of Dressman Benziger Lavelle, the Crestview Hills firm representing the city of Corbin.
“It was not over at all when (Stivers) put that amendment on the other bill,” said Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney. “It’s still in litigation.”