Saturday, August 26, 2000

Henson: No annual sessions

Blasts Westwood vote to place issue on ballot

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — The Kenton County Democrat running for a Kentucky state Senate seat urged voters Friday to reject a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to meet every year.

        Jaimie Henson of Independence, a flight attendant running for the 23rd Senate District seat, said annual sessions would create a system of professional politicians that Kentucky does not need.

        “I believe in a part-time legislature made up of ordinary citizens,” Mrs. Henson said in a statement released Friday by her campaign.

        “That's been a time-honored tradition here in Kentucky and it has allowed people from all walks of life, including working mothers like myself, to serve the commonwealth,” she said. “I urge voters to reject the idea of creating a system that caters to professional politicians and full-time lobbyists by voting no to annual sessions.”

        Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill that will allow Kentucky voters to decide in November if the legislature should continue to meet once every two years or begin meeting every year.

        Proponents say lawmakers could deal with topics more quickly and keep a closer handle on spending and the state's budget. Opponents, like Mrs. Henson, fear that the more the legislature meets, the more laws will be passed and the more state govern ment will grow.

        Among the lawmakers who voted to put the issue on the ballot was Sen. Jack Westwood, the Erlanger Republican whom Mrs. Henson is challenging.

        In her statement, Mrs. Henson attacked Mr. Westwood for voting in favor of the annual session amendment.

        “Jack Westwood likes to tell everybody he is for smaller government,' Mrs. Henson said, “but that position is inconsistent with his vote to put annual sessions on the ballot.”

        Through a statement Friday, Mr. Westwood said he voted to place the issue on the ballot so the voters could decide for themselves about annual sessions.

        “I think there's pro and cons on both sides,” said Mr. Westwood. “Which is why I support putting it on the ballot and letting the people decide.

        “That's part of what my message is all about,” he said. “Giving back local control and getting government out of the way while empowering people.”

        Mrs. Henson and her campaign manager, Shannon Pratt, said Mr. Westwood refused to say how he stood on the overall issue of annual sessions.

        Marc Wilson, Mr. Westwood's campaign manager, said Mr. Westwood prefers to let the voters make that decision.

        “Mr. Westwood is trying to have it both ways,” Ms. Pratt said. “If you want smaller government, like he says he does, then you can't support annual sessions. But we don't know where he stands on that because he won't answer the question.”


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