Second GOP lawmaker in a week turns Democrat

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Already in firm control of the Kentucky House, Democrats have swayed the second GOP lawmaker in a week to switch political sides.

Rep. Melvin Henley, of Murray, said Friday he left the Republican Party to become a member of the state Democratic Party. Henley's conversion gives the Democrats a 63-37 lead in the
Kentucky House.

"This has been a spectacular week for the House majority and for the House Democrats," Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said. "We started out the week with 61 members and finished the week with 63. I'm just real excited about it."

Earlier in the week, state Rep. Milward Dedman Jr., of Harrodsburg, announced he was leaving the GOP to return to the Democratic Party. Both have been House members since 2005.

Richards said neither representative was promised anything in exchange for their switch. But, Richards said, the moves would likely help residents in their respective districts.

Henley, who represents a predominantly Democratic area in far western Kentucky, said he felt he needed to join the majority in
the House to better represent his constituents. Henley said his switch "had nothing to do with party" but centered on the upcoming two-year budgets that lawmakers will begin forging early next year.

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