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Combs discusses work




FRANKFORT

As difficult as it is for me to believe, nearly 11 months have passed since I was elected to serve the people of Pike, Letcher and Harlan counties in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

This time has truly been rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. While I have always known our region has much to offer, I now have an even greater appreciation of our schools, our workforce and our families. I don’t think there is a legislative district that symbolizes the Kentucky spirit as much as ours.

Over the last year I have been fortunate to speak with many of you, to hear what you think about state government and what can be done to improve it. This input is critical to me as a legislator, because without it, I cannot properly represent your views.

Communication is a two-way street, however, so I promise to keep in contact with you as much as possible. That includes letters, meetings and phone calls to those of you who have a question or need help; periodic mailings; and regular newspaper columns like this one.

In many ways, the legislative process is very simple. It usually starts with someone having a problem and letting his or her legislator know about it. The legislator then files a bill, and if a majority of the 100 state representatives and 38 state senators agrees, it becomes law and, hopefully, the problem is solved.

Once a bill is filed and a regular session is underway, it is referred to at least one of 13 main committees. I serve on several that play key roles in our region: Economic Development and Tourism; Education; State Government; and Transportation. I also am on the Special Subcommittee on Energy, which covers many issues tied to coal mining, and the Program Review and Investigations Committee, which takes a closer look at various aspects of state government.

The committees that receive bills will hold hearings on many of them, and those that are approved are up for consideration in the full House. If a bill passes there, it will go through the same process in the Senate, and if both chambers agree on a final version, it will then go to the governor, who can sign it into law, let it become law without a signature, or veto it. A veto can be over-ridden, but only if a majority of the House and Senate agree.

During the 2007 regular session, which began in early January and lasted for 30 legislative days, there were 795 bills filed by members of the General Assembly. Of those, 120 became law.

That does not mean the 675 that did not make it are bad bills. There either wasn’t time to consider them, or there may not have been enough public support. In some cases, a bill may take several years before it finally makes it through.

The most important bill the General Assembly passes is the budget, which is considered every even-numbered year. Last year’s budget totaled $47 billion, which covers state and federal revenue as well as restricted funds like college tuition.

The budget lays out the state’s priorities more than any other bill, so it understandably draws the most interest. In our region, it determines what projects will receive coal-severance money. It also guides spending on our roads, in our schools and in staterun programs like Medicaid. In addition to voting on the budget, I get to help guide it as a member of a budget subcommittee that oversees general government expenses and public protection.

A legislator’s work does not end when a legislative session ends. Committees meet every month and constituent needs con- tinue throughout the year.

That last one is especially important to me, so if you have a problem involving state government, I want to know about it. We have trained professionals in Frankfort who work only for the General Assembly and can help in many situations.

If you would like to contact me, I can be reached either by telephone at (606) 444-6672 or by cell phone at (606) 477-6672. My email address is Leslie.Combs@lrc.ky.gov. My home address is 245 East Cedar Drive, Pikeville, KY 41501, while my legislative address is Room 466B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601.

If you call and I am unable to answer, please leave a message and how I can reach you. I promise to return your call as soon as possible.

Another way to leave a message for me (or for any or all of my 137 colleagues in the General Assembly), is to call, tollfree, 1-800-372-7181 or, for the deaf and hard of hearing, 1-800- 896-0305. These numbers in Frankfort are available yearround during normal business hours and are very effective in quickly letting legislators know the public’s view on a variety of issues. You will communicate with a live operator if you use this service.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to serve you. I truly appreciate it and look forward to meeting with many of you in the weeks and months ahead.


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