- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate on Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to block administrative regulations issued by the governor’s administration when the General Assembly isn’t meeting.

The measure would provide a check on executive branch powers that have allowed the governor to establish programs such as Common Core education standards and the Kynect health care exchange, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said.

“There is no statute to allow the executive branch to set up health care exchanges in Kentucky,” Thayer said.

Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, spoke on behalf of the proposed amendment.

“If we are out of session and the governor or any agency puts in a regulation contrary to what we say his authority was, I see nothing wrong with us saying, ‘You wait until the next session if you want to do something.’”

The measure passed the Senate 24-14 and it now moves to the House. If passed by the General Assembly and approved by voters in November, the legislation would allow lawmakers to prohibit adoption of administrative regulations it finds to be deficient.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said less than 1 percent of executive branch regulations are found to be deficient.

“I understand the consternation that some of the members of the body feel with respect to the actions taken by the executive,” Neal said. “But it sounds to me like their argument is based upon the exception to make the rule.”

Democratic Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort, a former governor who has held positions in Kentucky government since 1968, said that while he has continually advocated for legislative independence during his tenure, the amendment creates an imbalance of power between the executive and legislative branches of the government.

“As legislators we’ve gone too far,” Carroll said. “How can we expect a chief executive to adequately run this state on a day-to-day basis when we’re in town 60 days in one year and 30 days in another year?”

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The proposed amendment is Senate Bill 1.

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