Friday, March 17, 2000

When 'Cats are away, the lawmakers play

Capitol pauses to watch UK

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — At 2 p.m. Thursday at the Kentucky General Assembly, the House and Senate were scheduled to begin their daily sessions.

        The chambers were dark. Lawmakers were huddled be hind closed doors. Staffers were in their offices. Even the ever-present lobbyists and reporters were hard to find.

        Was a crisis taking place that demanded the attention of practically everyone and anyone in the State Capitol?


        The University of Kentucky Wildcats were playing in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.

        “Now we can get to work,” Senate Democratic Floor Leader David Karem, D-Louisville, joked as he and his Senate colleagues hustled from an office to the Senate chambers just seconds after the game ended.

        UK had just won a double-overtime thriller over St. Bon aventure.

        In basketball-wild Kentucky, the NCAA tournament doesn't fully stop the wheels of state government, but it sure slows them down.

        Throughout the Capitol and adjacent office annex — in offices, in the Capitol basement snack bar, in the musty and crowded press room — fans crammed around TVs to watch the 'Cats nearly lose their first round game.

        Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge, a UK tie around his neck, watched the game with a group of lawmakers and lobbyists in the office of House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan. D-Wilder.

        “We can be a little late getting started today,” Mr. Adams said. “I think most people in this state would understand that.”


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- When 'Cats are away, the lawmakers play