Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

May 17, 2014

Another View: Pullin lauded for moves to benefit AK Steel

It took some last-minute political maneuvering by State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, and some skilled wheeling and dealing to prevent a bill important to AK Steel in Ashland from ending up on the scrapheap of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly.

Ironically, House Bill 483 was not even viewed as controversial and was expected to breeze through both the House of Representatives and the Senate with little or no opposition. After all, the intent of the bill was to extend for another two years incentives provided to AK Steel by the Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act of 2004. If HB 483 had failed to be approved, the incentives would have expired in July.

Things seemed to be going as expected for HB 483 in the early days of the General Assembly with this region’s entire House delegation — House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, State Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, and Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson — joining Pullin in co-sponsoring the bill. State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, pledged to steer this bill through the Senate.

The bill was approved by the House without a dissenting vote and sent to the Senate. But then some senators apparently concluded HB 483 was so popular no legislator would have the political courage to vote against it. Thus, they took advantage of that popularity by adding to the bill a much more controversial amendment that included incentives for proposed nuclear power plants in western Kentucky. That’s an old trick in the Kentucky General Assembly, and area legislators had to work furiously in the final hours of the 60-day General Assembly to prevent incentives for proposed nuclear power plants from killing incentives that have protected existing jobs and have encouraged investment at AK Steel in Ashland for a decade.

Pullin salvaged her bill by using a parliamentary procedure to add the “guts” of her bill as an amendment to another House bill. She then sent the new bill back to the Senate. The vote in the Senate ended in a 19-19 tie and Pullin thought her bill was dead.

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