COLUMN: Time to act like adults in Frankfort

COLUMN: Time to act like adults in Frankfort
Johnson was elected to the Kentucky State House in 2016. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (CHNI) - I was reminded this week of the British comedy group from the early 1970s known as Monty Python.

Pythons John Cleese, Terry Palin, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle would have had a field day at Thursday's Senate Education Committee.

In the midst of the continuing sexual harassment scandal which brought down the Republican Speaker of the House, the Republican Senate is determined to clamp down — not on the juvenile behavior of grown men but on that of actual juveniles.

On Thursday, the committee passed out a bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Meredith, a Leitchfield Republican, which would require sex education classes to include teaching abstinence and monogamy.

"Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the expected standard for all school-aged children," according to Meredith's bill.

Too bad "grown-up" lawmakers aren't required to observe that standard themselves. Do as I say not as I do, I guess, is the standard in the General Assembly. It will be instructive to see, when the bill reaches the floor of the Senate and, presumably later the House, how those previously accused of sexual misconduct vote. A couple of senators faced such accusations in the past and others in both parties and both chambers are rumored to have some sexual skeletons in their closets.

Meanwhile, the House may be ready to move on from the Hoover controversy.

Thursday, there was only one speech on the subject — from a Democrat who criticized Hoover for a speech earlier this week in which Hoover "called out" a staff employee he thinks contributed to his problems.

Hoover's problems were self-inflicted. He did it to himself and he should have known better. To his credit, he's said so but now it's time he let it go.

That's not to say some didn't pounce when they saw him wounded, motivated more by personal agendas than shock or moral outrage at Hoover's misbehavior. But that's the way politics work.

Hoover has said he reconsidered an earlier promise to resign because of the entreaties of some colleagues and their and his own concerns about legislative independence. Those concerns are valid — but critics may find them as convenient politically as Hoover's critics found his imbroglio convenient to their own political ends.

In the end, Hoover resigned, but then he made floor speeches on two succeeding days lamenting how he'd been treated and vowing to expose those who "schemed and orchestrated" his downfall.

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But protesting too much and portraying himself as a victim, Hoover risked the good will and support he retained among some in his caucus. After those two floor speeches, you could sense some of that support eroding. With the House's repeal of a new rule governing how to adjudicate calls for members' punishment or expulsion, there are signs at least some on both sides may be ready to move on and focus on issues like pensions and the budget.

Hoover and his staunchest supporters still feel resentment, some of it for Gov. Matt Bevin who they believe contributed to Hoover's problems. That resentment may show up when some of Bevin's legislative agenda comes up for votes.

But they — and especially Hoover — should pick their battles on policy and on legislative independence, both areas of legitimate concern, and stop portraying Hoover as victim. There's little evidence the Senate is willing to fight to protect legislative independence in the Bevin era. Hoover's biggest House critics want to empower Bevin, not stand up to him.

Hoover may be the only one who will.

Defending the institution, he loves from executive overreach and opposing bad public policy are the best ways for Hoover to repair his reputation — not complaining of his ill-treatment.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter @cnhifrankfort

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