House Adjourns Just After Special Session Gets Underway

House lawmakers adjourned without taking any action during a special legislative session called by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Fletcher, a first-term Republican, had included potentially volatile issues on the agenda, including a measure that could prohibit public universities from providing health insurance benefits to domestic partners.

But House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, urged House
lawmakers to adjourn without taking any action.

Richards questioned the need for the session, saying the costs outweighed the benefits and that any legislation could wait until the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

After heated debate, the House adjourned just over an hour after the session was called to order.

House lawmakers agreed to forfeit their salaries and expenses for the special session.

Richards said it could have taken up to eight weeks to get through Fletcher's 67 item agenda, costing taxpayers some $2.5 million had lawmakers not adjourned.

"To lend any further credibility to this charade would set a dangerous precedent which I am sure we would all live to regret," he said.

Richards also asked House lawmakers to forfeit any salaries or expenses for Thursday's session.

Fletcher said he called lawmakers to the Capitol primarily to pass a package of incentives for companies looking to build high-tech fuel plants in Kentucky. So far, Peabody Energy Corp. Is the only company to have publicly expressed an interest.

Fletcher signed an executive order on Monday calling lawmakers back to Frankfort at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Fletcher has called the General Assembly into special session twice previously since he took office - once in October 2004 to improve health insurance benefits for teachers and state employees and again in June 2006 to provide tax relief for small businesses.

Steve Beshear, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is among those questioning Fletcher's motives for calling the session. Beshear said paying the salaries and expenses for lawmakers could potentially cost millions of dollars, depending on how long the session lasts.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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