Sunday, February 04, 2001

Garbage bill will get trashed

        Some predictions for the General Assembly session that begins Tuesday.

        Gov. Paul Patton's garbage bill will get trashed.

        That's not to say it will or won't pass. But the $30 million piece of legislation, which mandates trash collection in every county and provides money for recycling and the cleanup of illegal dumps, will definitely get wadded up and tossed around the General Assembly like a discarded fast-food wrapper.

        Mr. Patton may have the support of some of his fellow Democrats in the House, but Senate Republicans are already chewing on the bill, questioning how fees would be assessed and collected on the local level.

        There are also lots of lawmak ers, taking cues from county officials in their home districts and declaring they don't want any unfunded mandates from Frankfort.

        But Mr. Patton has been down this messy road before. More than a decade
ago, while serving as Pike County Judge-executive, Mr. Patton went against strong public opinion to institute garbage collection in eastern Kentucky's largest county.

        Social and religious conservatives will roll out their usual collection of bills and amendments on abortion, school prayer, Ten Commandments and other juicy topics that (a) have no chance of passing but will force mainly Democrats into voting against God; (b) will pass but will get thrown out in court; or (c) won't even come up for a vote but will take up lots of time while the bills are debated.

        Senate Republicans will get in fights with Mr. Patton, Senate Democrats, House Democrats, House Republicans, each other and a group of school kids taking a Capitol tour.

        The 11,012 people who want to run for governor in 2003 will angle for so much face time we'll think the election was two months away.

        Special interest groups will stage daily press conferences in the Capitol Rotunda that the press will almost certainly ignore.

        Even though voters passed a constitutional amendment three years ago giving the General Assembly authority to slice the state's hated vehicle tax, paid each year when vehicle owners renew their license plates, for reasons lawmakers have never been able to fully explain the tax has not yet been cut. And don't look for that to happen in this session, either.

        A well-dressed lobbyist will let out a scream and dash from the Capitol Annex cafeteria after Chuck Wagon appears as the entree for the 11th straight day.

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