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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


by Michael Monks 
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Kentucky Senate Bill 62, sponsored by Georgetown Republican Damon Thayer (who also represents South Covington), aims to make it easier for the Northern Kentucky Homebuilders Association and the NKY Tea Party to dismantle the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and to make it easier for builders to develop lower-quality roads and homes for the community. The bill will be heard today at noon during a meeting of Thayer's state & local government committee. 
Sen. Damon Thayer
The Covington City Commission unanimously passed a scathing resolution opposing Thayer's bill which lowers the number of signatures required to place a referendum on the ballot. When the Homebuilders and Tea Party hired an out-of-state firm to collect signatures to place NKAPC on the ballot, Republican Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe deemed thousands of the signatures to be fraudulent. Currently, a petition must achieve signatures that amount to 25% of the electorate that turns out to vote in the previous election. Thayer's bill would lower that requirement to 10%. 
Covington's resolution said the bill would have a "chilling effect" on planning in the community and compared the situation to the dangers of government-by-referendum, citing California's financial collapse as evidence of what could go wrong in such political maneuvering. "An ungodly amount of money was spent (by the NKY Homebuilders) and they didn't get their way and now they want to change the law," Commissioner Shawn Masters charged. In Frankfort, "we need to reform our pension system that is bankrupting municipalities. We have more important things to do."
Commissioner Steve Frank was more restrained in his support of the resolution. "I don't like creating a new interpretation of referendum for just one specific issue," Frank said. "I think we need a more general discussion about the thresholds we have for referendums. I think 25% is a little high, 10%, I don't think that's the right number either. I don't think 'we the people' have had the time to think this through."
Summe, the County Clerk, has a committee reviewing the signature process, Commissioner Sherry Carran said, stating that Summe would prefer to finish her own study before the law is changed. Summe has found an unlikely allow in the opposing Party. The Kenton County Democrats issued an emergency call-to-action late Tuesday night urging citizens to call the state legislative hotline in opposition to Thayer's bill:
Call the legislative hot line at 1-800-372-7181 and express your opposition to SB62 to the Senate Committee on State & Local Government. The call is free and the process takes about a minute. If you call the hot line you may want to express that the message is left for all members of the Senate.

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