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When redistricting of legislature at the state level concluded in August, Washington Countians quickly discovered they were in for a change.
Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, and Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville were out as state representatives for the area, and in stepped Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, and Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg.
A Q&A session with Buford was published in the Nov. 20 issue of The Sun. This week, we get to know King, whose new district will cover Mercer, Washington and part of Jessamine counties.
King has been married to her husband, Terry, for 33 years and has a son, a daughter and five granddaughters.
Q: What kind of background do you bring to the Kentucky House of Representatives and how might Washington County benefit from your area of expertise?
Rep. Kim King (KK): My background is in fitness and wellness management. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2004 as the first grandparent to graduate from Eastern’s honors program, so that was kind of interesting.
I’ve tried to be very active in the community, especially with wellness projects with trying to get people to take care of their body.
I’ve already been in contact with the (Springfield) Chamber (of Commerce), the Main Street Program and the extension office to offer my services if there’s any type of public forum or anything I can do to help promote wellness within the county. I certainly look forward to doing that. It’s my passion and it’s kind of what makes me tick.
Q: What have you made of your visits to Washington County and were you familiar with the area prior to the redistricting?
KK: We raise registered and commercial black angus cattle here in Mercer County and have actually been doing quite a bit of business with cattle farmers there in Washington County. We really didn’t have any family ties, so business ties were really our previous exposure to Washington County, but everyone has been so open and receptive and we really do appreciate it. They haven’t treated me like the stranger that I am. Washington County may not have even wanted this to happen. I don’t know what the local thoughts on redistricting were, but even if they didn’t want this to happen, everyone has been so nice to me anyway. They’ve taken me in, the little stray puppy off the street.
Q: When did you take office and what role have you taken on since entering the Kentucky House of Representatives?
KK: I was first elected in 2010. I serve on ag and small business, economic development and tourism development and energy (boards).
I’m also the vice-chair of the Central Kentucky Caucus, which is a group comprised of senators and representatives from both parties from 17 counties in central Kentucky. A lot of times issues come up that effect regions more than just individual counties, so that group gets together bi-monthy to tackle regional issues.”
Q: What is your view on how soon redistricting of the state legislature takes effect?
KK: I was first elected to serve Anderson, Mercer and Spencer (counties). As of Aug. 23, the new district is Mercer, Washington and part of Jessamine County; not the entire county, just the Wilmore and Asbury and western Jessamine County.
The House and the Senate don’t agree on when that becomes effective. I agree with the Senate, which says that it became effective immediately.
For one, it had an emergency clause built into it. Also, when we file to run for a district, it doesn’t list the counties. I don’t think I was elected for a listing of counties, but instead for that numerical district. The speaker disagrees and says we were elected in the previous counties, so those are the ones we are serving until elections happen.
We have two special elections coming up, so if that were the case, we’d be electing people from the wrong counties, because those elections are going to be based on the new drawings, not the old. How can it not be effective immediately if, in December, Union County and Fayette County are going to have elections based on the new drawings?
On Aug. 26, our Republican caucus sent a letter to the attorney general asking for his official opinion on this and we still haven’t gotten an answer.
Anderson, Mercer and Spencer folks are the ones who hired me to this responsibility, so I’m going to work on their behalf until elections based on the new drawings, but I’m always around. I’m already serving, to the best of my ability, Washington and my part of Jessamine County.
Q: What issues have you focused on during your time in office?
KK: I’ve only been there three-and-a-half-years, but I have maybe four signature items I guess I’m kind of known for. I’ve already pre-filed these bills for 2014, but one of the first things I learned when I went into the House was that we don’t have to take a roll-call vote—a visual account of every vote that we make—it was surprising and rather appalling to me that an issue could come up and we could just take a voice vote just over the house chamber; people say ‘yea or nay’ and there’s no recording of that. One of my signature bills just says that any time we vote on raising taxes or spending money, it ought to have to be on the big board that records, visually, each of our votes. I don’t see that as policy-oriented. I just see that as transparency and accountability to the folks who have elected all of us.
Secondly, the Kentucky constitution only mandates that we do two things in the general assembly: create a working budget every even year, which is coming up, and the second is to reapportion Kentucky’s population after every census. Well, we’re pretty lousy at doing both of those. I’ve only been there three years, but we’ve had three special sessions dealing with those two things. My other bill just says that legislatures shouldn’t be paid in special session for creating a budget when we were mandated to do that. It wasn’t a surprise and it wasn’t like either of those things snuck up on us. Those are two very important ones to me.
Q: What do you know about the issues that have arisen in recent months involving Williams Oil Company’s plans to run a natural gas pipeline through the state?
KK: Another bill that we (recently) pre-filed concerns eminent domain with the Bluegrass Pipeline. That situation is a very hot topic right now and there is a little bit of confusion of whether any of that will effect any of Washington County. The latest map that I saw shows that it is right on the border. I had another follow-up meeting with Bluegrass Pipeline folks recently and they say it does not come into Washington County, but in talking with local officials, they’re under the impression that it does.
Either way, I feel it’s important to protect private landowners. Along with Rep. Floyd from Nelson County, we are primary sponsors on a bill to just clarify that. If landowners want to participate, that’s fine, but we just want to protect their land so that nobody can take it for a private purpose.
Q: Have there been any recent developments with the House that Kentuckians should be aware of?
KK: I recently got an email from House Speaker (Greg) Stumbo that we will not take up tax reform this time. I know that’s also a pretty hot topic and a lot of people have been looking to us for direction on that. Our taxing system is very antiquated, so we certainly need to update that to today’s economy, but he officially has said that we’re not going to do that this session. He has control over our agenda and what will be brought before a committee, so I guess we’re not going to be taking that up as much as we need to.