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Bill seeks to limit governor’s ability to fill Senate seat if vacancy occurs

FRANKFORT


Republican lawmakers in Kentucky pushed ahead Tuesday with a bill that would remove the Democratic governor’s ability to pick someone of his choosing if a U.S. Senate seat became vacant.

The bill — which cleared the Senate and now goes to the House — reflects the commanding position of Republicans, who dominate the legislature and hold both U.S. Senate seats from Kentucky.

If a vacancy occurred, the measure would put strict conditions on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in picking a temporary replacement. The governor would have to choose from a list provided by the executive committee of the same political party as the senator who formerly held the seat.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said it would reflect the will of the state’s electorate.

“The rationale is that in the most recent election for that position, the state chose to pick the individual from that party,” said Stivers, the bill’s lead sponsor.

Beshear said the way a vacancy is filled “shouldn’t be decided based on who’s currently in the office.”

“We’ve got to believe in the institution of government and in the separation of powers more than we believe in our party,” Beshear said in a statement.

The bill would set up a process for a special election to fill the remainder of the term.

The legislation is Senate Bill 228.

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