Thursday, January 04, 2001

House speaker outlines plans

Political speculation surrounds Richards

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Jody Richards started his fourth term as speaker of the Kentucky House on Wednesday with a ceremony and speech that had a striking resemblance to a gubernatorial campaign event.

        “I did not consider that,” Mr. Richards said afterward. “I thought it was sort of a state of the legislature.”

        Nevertheless, Mr. Richards' ceremony included remarks from Paintsville Mayor Robin Cooper, president of the Kentucky League of Cities; Henderson County Judge-executive Sandy Watkins, the president of the Kentucky Association of Counties; and Gov. Paul Pat ton.

        Mr. Richards is an all-but-announced candidate for the Democratic nomination to succeed Mr. Patton in 2003. Other contenders include Attorney General Ben Chandler, Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, former Gov. Brereton Jones and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, Mr. Patton's running mate on two occasions.

        Mr. Patton applauded Mr. Richards for knowing the “proper relationship between the legislature and the governor” and complimented his hard work to learn issues in the House and the state.

        Mr. Richards said his swearing in during the 1999 organizational session was as elaborate as the Wednesday ceremony, which also included a choir and color guard.

        Mr. Richards said he wanted his address to outline his plans for the new annual sessions. “Having the General Assembly meet each year makes our legislature more accessible, more efficient and more accountable,” Mr. Richards said.

        The speech, though, was not limited to legislative issues and touched on topics such as “improving education, protecting our environment, preserving our heritage, creating a strong and sustainable economy, emphasizing technology careers and making our homes and streets safer.”


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