GOP guilty of ‘political shell game’ to frustrate protesters

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Did the Republicans pull a fast one just to thwart protesters?

On Tuesday, state Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, unexpectedly announced an end-of-session schedule shift, purportedly to give lawmakers more time to hammer out a budget.

Liles Taylor, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO political coordinator, isn’t buying it. “Changing the calendar was a political shell game the Republicans used to stifle the voice of their opponents,” he said. “They hoped to have a smaller and more subdued crowd on these previously unscheduled days.”

Thousands of protesters have been thronging the Capitol to denounce GOP legislation, notably bills to slash the budget, public pensions and workers’ compensation.

The Republicans enjoy a 27-11 Senate majority. The House GOP edge is 63-37.

Stivers said Wednesday’s legislative day would be postponed to today. With both chambers empty on Wednesday, the Budget Conference Committee could meet to iron out differences between the House and Senate budget bills, he proposed.  Stivers hoped a bill would be ready for a vote no later than Monday.

Teachers and other protesters were expected on Wednesday.

“These calendar changes conveniently created an additional barrier for constituents and stakeholders to show up in Frankfort to make their voice heard,” Taylor said.

“If they’re not going to vote on a budget until Monday, they could still have used Wednesday as a scheduled legislative day, rather than moving it to today. There are hundreds of affected teachers, issues advocates, and concerned constituents who made plans to be in Frankfort on Wednesday.

“Teachers lined up substitutes, and spent hours writing lesson plans so that our children didn’t miss out on instruction while they were gone.”

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Cross-posted from KY AFL-CIO site with permission.

Berry Craig
Berry Craig of Mayfield is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of five books on the Civil War in Kentucky. The last one, published by the University Press of Kentucky, is Kentucky’s Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media in the Civil War. His critically-acclaimed Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase, also from the University Press, has been reprinted in paperback.