Kentucky Senate OKs Cabinet change

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Associated Press

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 1:02 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State lawmakers' influence over the governor's Cabinet for Health and Family Services would increase under a bill passed by the Kentucky Senate on Tuesday.

Under the measure, a nine-member board chosen by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature would select three candidates from which the governor would pick a Cabinet undersecretary.

Sen. Julie Denton, a Republican from Louisville, is sponsoring the bill. Denton said the bill would bring more transparency to the functions of the Cabinet, and would allow for continuity of policy despite the changes in appointed Cabinet secretaries.

"With 20 percent of the budget going to the Health and Family Services Cabinet, it's important that we have someone that can have continuity," Denton said.

Minority Leader R.J. Palmer of Winchester expressed concern that the measure goes too far in dictating the functions of an executive Cabinet.

"It is something that simply tries to micromanage the executive branch to a much greater extent than the other two," said Palmer. "Regardless of whether it is the intent or not, you could have a particular situation where this board disagrees with a policy of the governor who was elected. They could potentially send him names that he knows would not be a good suit or a good working relationship."

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said that he sees no difference between the structure proposed for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the structure used by the Department of Education and the Economic Development Cabinet.

"This is mirroring two other scenarios within state government and continuity in a huge cabinet could have some beneficial aspects," Stivers said.

The bill passed on a 23-15 vote down party lines and now moves to the House for consideration.

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The legislation is Senate Bill 82.

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