Pre-filed transportation bill could make Cabinet changes

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Posted at 4:12 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 04:58:13-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Monday, Gov.-elect Andy Beshear announced that Jim Gray, the former mayor of Lexington, will serve as secretary of the Transportation Cabinet.

"We need to have somebody at the head of the Transportation Cabinet that has led large teams to great success," said Beshear.

Gray said his public service and construction business experience will help him in the position.

"Yes, it's something a little corny and cliche to say it's a great honor, but it is a great honor," said Gray.

However, it's an honor that could change thanks to a bill, BR 184, that was pre-filed on election night.

BR 184 would limit the governor's power to appoint the Transportation Secretary. Instead, the bill creates the Kentucky Transportation Board, which would come up with a list of people the governor could choose from. Then, whoever the governor picks from that list would go before the Senate for approval.

The bill would make the transportation secretary the only cabinet secretary that requires confirmation from the legislature.

The bill's co-sponsor, Senate President Robert Stivers, reportedly told the Courier Journal the bill would take politics out of the position.

"It is an attempt to make the Transportation Cabinet as apolitical as possible, and there are numerous instances that I can give you over my career where it has been weaponized or politicized which really shouldn’t happen," Stivers told the Courier Journal.

However, critics believe this bill is an effort to limit the incoming governor's powers.

Although, Beshear remains optimistic he can work with all lawmakers.

"I wouldn't judge anything that we've seen thus far by a couple of pre-filed bills,"said Beshear during a one-on-one interview with LEX 18. "I believe we're going to have the opportunity to build the relationships we need."