By Associated Press - Tuesday, January 3, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Latest on the start of the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly (all times local):

3 p.m.

Ending mandatory labor union membership is the top priority of the new Republican majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Republicans have filed a bill that would make Kentucky a “right-to-work” state. The bill was filed as HB1, the spot traditionally held by the governing majority’s top priority. New House Speaker Jeff Hoover is the primary sponsor.

Kentucky is the only southern state that has not passed a “right-to-work” law. Labor unions have criticized the proposal because they say it will hurt their ability to negotiate for higher wages and better benefits. But Republicans and other supporters say it will help the state recruit new businesses and jobs to the state.

Republicans have tried for years to pass similar proposals, only to be blocked by Democrats.


12:10 p.m.

The Kentucky House of Representatives has elected its first Republican Speaker since 1921.

Rep. Jeff Hoover was elected Tuesday by the new Republican majority. It is the first time Republicans have controlled the state House of Representatives in nearly 100 years. The GOP now controls the legislatures in all of the southern states.

Hoover is the first Republican speaker since Joe Bosworth of Bell County, who served in 1920 and 1921. Charles Blandford is the only other recorded Republican House Speaker in Kentucky, who served from 1896 to 1897, according to research by the Courier-Journal.

Hoover has pledged to “manage expectations” of the new Republican majority.


12:05 p.m.

House Democrats have elected state Rep. Rocky Adkins to lead the caucus through its first session as the minority party.

Adkins was elected without opposition following a nearly two-hour closed-door caucus meeting. A Democrat from Sandy Hook, Adkins had been the majority floor leader when Democrats were in power. But Republicans won 64 of the legislature’s 100 seats in November, winning a majority for the first time since 1921.

Democrats also elected Rep. Dennis Keene of Wilder as minority caucus chairman and Rep. Wilson Stone of Scottsville as minority whip.

Adkins said he hopes to work with the Republican majority when he can, but promised to voice opposition on policies the party disagrees with.


11:10 a.m.

The Kentucky Senate has convened as Republicans begin a new era in complete control of the General Assembly.

The GOP-dominated Senate opened the 2017 legislative session on Tuesday, about an hour before Republicans take control of the Kentucky House for the first time in nearly a century.

Republicans won 64 out of the 100 House seats in the November elections, taking them from a minority to a super majority. The GOP now controls every state legislature in the South.

With their overwhelming advantage in the Kentucky legislature, Republicans will dictate the agenda for the session. And with Matt Bevin occupying the governor’s office, the GOP is in firm control of state government.

This year’s legislative session will span 30 working days, ending in late March.


4:50 a.m.

The Kentucky House of Representatives is preparing to convene with a Republican majority for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Republicans won 64 out of the 100 seats in the November elections, taking them from a minority to a super majority. Republicans now control every state legislature in the south. In Kentucky, the GOP also has the state Senate and the governor’s mansion.

The House is scheduled to convene at noon on Tuesday for the first day of a 30-day session. Members are expected to elect Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover of Jamestown as House Speaker, replacing former Democratic Speaker Greg Stumbo. Stumbo lost his re-election bid, ending his 36 year legislative career.

Hoover has promised to “manage expectations” and urged patience as the new majority begins their work.

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