FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - House Speaker Jeff Hoover says he doesn't think he should resign. Representative Hoover made the comments to WKYT's Hillary Thornton on Wednesday morning as lawmakers prepared to begin day two of the 2018 legislative session.
The session started under unusual circumstances on Tuesday. At noon, Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne gaveled in the House on Speaker Hoover's behalf. Back in November, Representative Hoover announced he would step aside after acknowledging he settled sexual harassment claims against him. He has not formally resigned and now says he is asking Representative Osborne to preside over the House until the Legislative Ethics Commission completes its investigation into the settlement.
"I don't think I should resign. At this point, I've changed my mind and I'm sort of in limbo talking with our members in deciding our best course forward. The biggest concern for me is not Jeff Hoover being speaker. My biggest concern is legislative independence because I really believe we are dangerously close to losing that in this state and I know that if I am speaker, I will stand up for the legislature when there are disagreements with the Executive Branch or anyone else," said Representative Hoover.
On Wednesday afternoon, eight Republican lawmakers filed disciplinary charges asking for Representative Hoover to be removed from office because of the sexual harassment settlement. According to the Associated Press, the complains accuse Representative Hoover of creating a hostile work environment and using his position to cover it up.
Lawmakers have some tough issues to tackle during this year's session, including the state budget and a fix for the state's struggling pension system. Some lawmakers say questions over who is leading the House are a distraction.
"We think the operator of the House would keep his commitment he made to the people of Kentucky to resign, step aside, let this process move on without the cloud being over the general assembly, especially maybe during one of the toughest years we've had possibly in my 31 year history," said Representative Rocky Adkins, the House Minority Floor Leader.
Representative Hoover says he hopes the complaints before the Ethics Commission will be resolved soon. Once they are, the House will then make a decision within a week or two on leadership. House and Senate members underwent mandatory ethics training before going into session on Wednesday. A portion of the traning included an anti-harassment seminar.