Special to The Mountain Advocate
Governing Magazine has named Knox County Senator and Kentucky Senate President the National Public Official Of the Year. Every year since 1994, Governing has honored individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment by naming them Public Officials of the Year.
Elected, appointed and career officials from any branch of state or local government are eligible. Our readers are invited to nominate individuals who have had a notable positive impact on their department or agency, community or state.
Governing annually receives several hundred nominations from individuals in the public and private sectors. In addition, Governing staff consults experts and scholars in the field, and also nominates outstanding individuals they encounter in the course of their work. Nominations are evaluated by a selection committee, which, after painstaking research, chooses the winners.
Here are some of the highlights of the article written by Mike Maciag.
Like many states with split-party legislatures, Kentucky had grown accustomed in recent years to partisan gridlock that ground most lawmaking to a halt. But since Robert Stivers took over as Senate president in 2013, he’s played a key role in guiding the legislature to multiple productive sessions, addressing a range of issues important to Kentuckians.
One problem that’s plagued the state in recent years is a severe heroin epidemic. Lawmakers had tried and failed to pass legislation before, and disagreements over sentencing reforms and a needle exchange program stalled talks earlier this year. So Stivers, a Republican, took on the role of lead negotiator as details of the bill were hammered out in a conference committee, a rare move in the state for a leader of a legislative chamber. The resulting bill included a comprehensive set of measures aimed at curbing heroin overdoses, earning wide praise from all corners of the commonwealth. Kentucky also faced a shortage of funding for much-needed infrastructure improvements, as its gas tax is tied to the declining wholesale price of fuel. Although Stivers says he generally opposes tax increases, he worked to gain support from his Senate colleagues for a measure that sets a floor on the tax, staving off funding cuts.