FRANKFORT - Join Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo and CNHI's state reporter Ronnie Ellis for an online chat at noon Thursday.
Stumbo will take questions from Ellis and online readers about the General Assembly's new session. Lawmakers this year are expected to confront high-profile issues including heroin trafficking; allowing local governments to raise sales taxes with voter approval; financially troubled state pensions; a statewide smoking ban; telecommunications deregulation; raising the minimum wage; and a right-to-work law.
They'll take up those matters in a partisan atmosphere in which Stumbo's Democrats control the House, while Republicans lead the Senate, against the backdrop of a governor's race.
A native of Floyd County, in the Eastern Kentucky coal field, Stumbo, 63, is known as a controversial, politically wily figure who is sometimes referred to in Frankfort as “the smartest man in the room.”
He was first elected to the House in 1980 and served 12 terms before running successfully for attorney general in 2003. From 1985 until 2003, he was House majority leader, serving in that position longer than anyone else. He championed passage of an amendment that ended the ability of mineral rights owners to access underground coal without the permission of surface property owners.
As attorney general, he investigated the hiring practices of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and charged the state's first Republican governor in 32 years with three misdemeanor violations of civil service laws. Stumbo eventually forged an agreement with Fletcher’s lawyers that avoided a prosecution.
After one term as attorney general, Stumbo again was elected to the House, where he ran for and was elected speaker.