Higdon 9.8.17

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Friday, September 8, 2017) – The Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus announced Friday that Senator Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) has been chosen by his peers as the designee to replace former Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens in the Kentucky Senate. Senator David Givens (R-Greensburg) who resigned from his seat in Senate leadership in June citing personal reasons.

“I was sad to see Senator Givens step down, but I am honored to serve in this new capacity in Senate leadership, and I appreciate all of my colleagues for granting me this special opportunity,” Senator Higdon said Friday. “I certainly have some big shoes to fill, but Senator Givens has been supportive, and I know he will continue to be a great asset to our caucus and a great resource to me moving forward.”

Prior to Friday’s election, Senator Higdon held the leadership position of Senate Majority Caucus Whip. A special election will be held in the near future to elect a designee to fill the vacant position. Senator Higdon is expected to be officially elected the next time the Senate convenes.

“I am happy for my good friend, Senator Jimmy Higdon, and look forward to continuing to serve with him in Senate leadership,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said. “Senator Higdon is experienced, knowledgeable, and possesses the necessary character skills needed to effectively serve as President Pro Tem, and I am confident he will do an exemplary job.”

Senator Higdon was elected to the Kentucky Senate in 2009 during a special election after having previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 2003. Senator Higdon was elected Majority Caucus Whip in 2014 and reelected in 2016. He represents the 14th Senate District, which encompasses Casey, Marion, Nelson, and Spencer counties, as well as a portion of Jefferson County.

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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Contact: John Cox 859-492-2963

The following was written by Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers in response to a recent article published in the Louisville Cardinal weekly independent school newspaper:

As a proud Louisville graduate with a long family tradition of matriculating at the university, I understand just how vital U of L is to the development of the city of Louisville and to our Commonwealth as a whole. My support of recently enacted legislation reorganizing the Board of Trustees springs from my desire to do what is best for my university and its students, alumni, faculty and staff.

It was beyond dispute that the U of L Board was illegally constituted. The Board, as appointed by former Governor Beshear, did not meet statutory requirements for racial representation. The Louisville-based Justice Resource Council even sued Beshear to force the appointment of more racial minorities to the Board.  A lawsuit Beshear attempted to have dismissed. Kentucky law also required that at least seven of the 17 board members should be registered Republicans, reflective of Kentucky’s voter registration statistics. There were no Republicans on the Board as appointed by Beshear.  I doubt even Attorney General Andy Beshear would dispute his father’s appointments created a Board out of compliance with the applicable laws.

We have been without a President since July of last year and the Interim President is leaving us in February. In June of 2016 Governor Bevin attempted to eliminate the well-known dysfunction of the Beshear-appointed Board by appointing a new board through an executive order.  This action was opposed by Attorney General Beshear in court and U of L is now mired in a series of court orders – one of which prevents the University from beginning the search for a new president until the board issue is finally settled.

So to be clear, time was of the essence to enact legislation to resolve the university’s continued leadership crisis.

SB 12 did not codify or ratify Governor Bevin’s executive order, nor did it address the legal issues pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court. It does reduce the number of Board members from 17 to 10 and allows the State Senate to utilize its Constitutional power to confirm gubernatorial appointments to public university boards in the future. If this oversight had been in place, the Senate would never have confirmed the Beshear appointments taking the U of L Board out compliance with state law. It should be noted that no individual previously appointed to the Board is prevented from being considered to serve on the new Board soon to be appointed.

Based on the timing of new appointments to the U of L Board, the Senate should be confirming these appointments when the Senate convenes again in the first week of February.

Most significantly, Senate Bill 12 does not place the university’s accreditation at risk. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has never revoked a university’s accreditation because a state legislature abolished and recreated a university board.   SACS took no adverse action when in 1992 the Kentucky General Assembly, under Democrat leadership, abolished and recreated every public university board in Kentucky (including U of L) and provided the then Democrat governor with the power to appoint all new members.  Democrats who voted in 1992 to disband ALL university boards are among the loudest critics of SB 12.

SACS did not revoke the accreditation of a university on probation in 2000 when the Florida Legislature took a similar action nor did they in 2015 when the South Carolina Legislature reorganized a university board. Dr. Robert King, president of Kentucky’s Council for Postsecondary Education, has written to the General Assembly that he does not see any provision of Senate Bill 12 as a violation of the SACS requirements and standards.

U of L has given much to Kentucky and to my family, and I would never propose the General Assembly take any action injuring the University or its community. SB 12 is similar to board reorganizations in 1992 in Kentucky, and to actions in other states. Ultimately, the General Assembly and the Governor took the necessary actions to preserve the interests of a state institution dedicated to educating our people, conducting world-class research, and bettering the Commonwealth.

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Robert Stivers, of Manchester, Kentucky, is the President of Kentucky’s State Senate. For a high-resolution .jpeg of President Stivers, please visit




Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Leadership Office


November 28, 2016
Contact: John Cox
Phone: 859-492-2963


Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus’ annual retreat


Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center 100 Kentucky Avenue, Paducah, KY, 42003


Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. CST


Members of the Kentucky State Senate Majority Caucus Leadership team for the upcoming 2017 Session  (President Robert Stivers, Majority Caucus Leader Dan Seum, Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, President Pro Tem David P. Givens, and Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon), along with Senator Danny Carroll, will be available to answer questions pertaining to the 2017 Legislative Session. The annual retreat will be held in Paducah in Sen. Danny Carroll’s district.

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For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox

FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 15, 2016) The following is a statement from Senator Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro), regarding pre-filed legislation announced yesterday from Representative James Kay (D-Versailles):

“In the 2016 General Assembly session, the Senate Majority strived to shore up the state pensions for teachers and state workers by both committing hundreds of millions of additional funds in the budgetary process, and by making the pension systems more transparent and accountable.  The full House of Representatives failed to vote on Senate Bill (SB) 2, the Senate pension transparency bill, as both standalone legislation and as part of a ‘super transparency’ bill.

On March 17th of the 2016 General Assembly session, the House State Government committee reported SB 2 favorably out of committee, with 20 ‘yea’ votes, 1 ‘nay’ vote, and 3 ‘pass’ votes.  Representative James Kay, a member of the committee, offered a “pass” vote.

Today, Representative Kay has essentially cut, pasted, and pre-filed a large portion of the contents of Senate Bill 2 from last session.  This is the same SB 2 that could not get enough support from him or House Leadership to be considered on the House floor, despite being reported favorably by the House State Government Committee.

Perhaps ‘better late than never.’  But does Rep. Kay and the House Leadership want to make substantive pension changes, or do they just want an election year issue?  There was no absence of opportunity to address these issues in the 2016 General Assembly session, but I assume these issues were not considered important to them at the time.  I am glad they now believe pension transparency and accountability are important issues.”

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Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Republican Leadership

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox

FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 7, 2016) – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), chairman of the U.S. Senate’s education committee and primary author of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will join the Interim Joint Committee on Education in Frankfort on Monday, September 12, to discuss the new education law and outline the opportunities and implications for Kentucky’s General Assembly to realign education policy in the state. The meeting is slated to begin at 10 a.m. EDT and Sen. Alexander is expected to give his presentation at approximately 11 a.m. local time.

“Senator Alexander has been a leader on education reform as Governor of Tennessee, as U.S. Education Secretary, and as a United States Senator,” said Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green), who will chair the September 12 Education meeting. “Through Senator Alexander’s intellect and persuasive nature, he attracted support from the National Education Association in his efforts to reduce Federal overreach in our schools. We share a similar view that individual states should be the ones determining the best academic standards, state assessments, and accountability as well as teaching methods for their students.”

Alexander’s testimony will cover the provisions of a new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

“We are excited to welcome this high-profile guest to Frankfort to lead a discussion that is long overdue,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said. “I admire Senator Alexander for his commitment to strengthening education across the United States, and I appreciate him for taking the time to address this committee.”

In 2016, the nation’s governors created the James Madison Award to recognize members of Congress who support federalism and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing states’ rights. The governors named Sen. Lamar Alexander as the first-ever recipient of the award for his work to fix No Child Left Behind. The new education law Alexander worked to pass was signed by the president in December 2015. The Wall Street Journal called it “the largest devolution of federal power to the states in a quarter century.”

In 2013, the National Conference of State Legislatures gave Sen. Alexander and three other senators its “Restoring the Balance” Award for protecting states’ rights, the first time in 10 years the organization gave this award to U.S. senators.

Alexander, a seventh-generation Tennessean born and raised in Maryville, was twice elected governor of Tennessee. He has always believed that in most cases the best decisions are made by those closest to the people.

Today, Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he is working on legislation to bring safe drugs and medical devices to doctors’ offices and patients’ medicine cabinets more quickly.

Alexander is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, where he works to boost funding for basic energy research and invest in our inland waterways and harbors.

Alexander was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and has been reelected twice. His Republican colleagues elected him three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

He has previously served as president of the University of Tennessee and as U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush.

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For Immediate Release
August 24, 2016
Contact: John Cox


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The following is a joint statement on behalf of Senate Health and Welfare Committee chair Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) and vice chair Dr. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester):

“The current Medicaid model in Kentucky is broken. If we continue down this unsustainable path, many Kentuckians will lose their healthcare coverage and we will have less state dollars to fund education and fix pension systems. The waiver proposed by Governor Bevin is a common-sense approach to keep Kentuckians covered and become personally engaged in their own health. This waiver promotes accountability and provides a pathway to private insurance.”

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For more information on the Section 1115 demonstration waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH (Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health) from Governor Matt Bevin’s Office, please visit: