Time to Make a Difference

Rep. Terri Branham Clark

100th District

 

   As I was sworn in on January 8, 2019, to represent District 100 in the General Assembly, I raised my right hand on behalf of us all, and wish each of you could have been with me. I am beyond grateful to all who worked hard and helped to make this possible. This was truly a collaborative effort and I’m forever grateful for your faith in me. With every bill I sponsor and vote I cast, I will do my best to serve as the voice for those of us who live in what I think is the best House district in the state.

   The odd-year legislative session, known as the “short session,” uses the opening week to focus on such organizational matters as choosing House and Senate leaders and establishing committee assignments for the next two years.

   Typically, these first few days are fairly quiet.  That was not the case this year. In fact, there were not one, but two events that could have repercussions for many years to come.

   The first event centers on State Rep. Jim Glenn of Owensboro, who won his election last November by a single vote.  After a recanvas that again verified a single vote victory, his opponent requested that the Kentucky House review the election’s outcome.  The debate stems around nearly two dozen votes, most of which are absentee ballots that were unanimously rejected for non-compliance by a bipartisan group of local election officials.

   It is important to emphasize that a recanvas did not change the results of this election.  There was no hint of fraud, and Rep. Glenn’s win was certified locally and statewide.  He has also been sworn into office and is participating as a sitting member. Yes, the outcome was close, but I feel strongly that his win by a single vote is no different from my win by 1,000. No matter how close, he won.

   For now, nine legislators who were randomly chosen last week are reviewing the matter and will ultimately issue a report.  The House will then decide whether to accept or reject the findings and determine what should happen next.

   As House members fervently debated this issue, Gov. Bevin’s administration began implementing stringent new rules that are severely limiting the public’s access within the Capitol complex.

   While safety is certainly important, the long-standing security measures that have been in place struck the right balance. One of the most significant changes in access is that the public will largely be barred from using the tunnel between the Capitol and the Annex. That means they now have to walk outside, regardless of the weather, if they want to travel between the buildings, while legislators will most likely utilize the privacy of the tunnel.

   There is little doubt that this change is due to the thousands of people who traveled to the Capitol last year to protest changes to the retirement systems and the large group that attended the Poor Man’s Rally this summer.

   I am reviewing the limited information provided thus far from the administration used to make this decision, and have requested supporting documentation on codes that led to this change in public access, but I don’t support efforts that appear to be more about shutting down dialogue than promoting security.

   On a more positive note, I learned last week that I will serve on several legislative committees important to the 100th District and eastern Kentucky. Those include Transportation, Banking & Insurance, Tourism and Budget Review Subcommittee on Post Secondary Education.

   Those committees will begin meeting when we return to the Capitol early next month and we will begin voting on bills. We are scheduled to complete the 30-day session by the end of March.

   I encourage you to let me know your views on the issues.  My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and you can call a toll-free number to leave a message for me or any other legislator.  These phones are staffed year-round but are kept open longer when the legislature is meeting.  That number is 1.800.372.7181, and it’s 800.896.0305 for the hearing-impaired.

   The General Assembly’s website has a considerable amount of information the public can use, including the full texts of bills and meeting times for our committees and can be found online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

   KET also does a phenomenal job of keeping the public informed.  Many legislative meetings are aired and their videos archived. There is also a smartphone app you can download on Apple and Android devices.  To learn more, visit the website at www.ket.org.

   I will keep you updated each week and look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

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