Rep. Felicia Rabourn, R-Pendleton, looks over her bills before filing them with the House clerk on the first day of the 2024 Kentucky General Assembly. (LRC Public Information)
FRANKFORT — After they were removed from their committees for seemingly bucking GOP House leadership last session, five House Republicans received either new committee assignments or were reassigned to their former committees Monday.
The removal prompted Republican Rep. Felicia Rabourn, of Pendleton, to lead an effort to change House rules that would lessen leadership’s control on members last week. She was one of six Republicans removed from committees last year.
Rabourn, who was reassigned to the House committees on Agriculture, Families and Children, and Health Services, said Tuesday morning that conversations about rules changes are still ongoing and will likely be discussed later this year in the interim session. Rabourn added that several changes may come next year, but declined to say specifically what those changes might look like.
As for her reassignments, she said the move was “a good thing for the district.”
“I think that it shows leadership’s commitment of moving Kentucky in the right direction by restoring those committees to all members who were removed,” Rabourn said.
Another Republican, Rep. Josh Calloway of Irvington, said Tuesday that he learned of his reassignments when they were announced Monday. Calloway was assigned to the House’s Education and Health Services committees, but not reassigned to the House Agriculture Committee.
“It might have been just an oversight,” he added. “So, I’ll know more on that today.”
Last year, Calloway held the House floor for at least a half-hour introducing multiple floor amendments for Senate Bill 5, which ultimately created a process for parents to challenge school materials they consider obscene. Calloway’s amendments included putting restrictions on drag shows and prohibiting school vaccine requirements. None of them received enough votes to be added to the now-law.
Calloway has filed a bill this session, House Bill 191, which would amend last year’s SB 5 to include that if parents or guardians who are questioning a material cannot recite quotes from the material in an open school board meeting, the material would automatically be deemed “harmful to minors.” The bill has gained five GOP co-sponsors.
At the end of the 2023 session, Calloway told the Kentucky Lantern he understood members of House leadership “have a difficult job” because of the size of the Republican caucus. The House currently has 80 GOP members.
“I’m a principled person and I just stand on my principles and try to fight for it as hard as I can, and I understand the risks whenever I take them that there could be consequences to those risks, and it is what it is,” Calloway said at the time.
Another lawmaker removed from the House Education and Judiciary committees, Rep. Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, had speculated last year his removal was because “it has something to do with tabling the skilled games legislation and supporting Josh Calloway’s efforts on SB 5, which ultimately led to the passage of SB 150 the next day.” Doan was reassigned to the House Education and Judiciary committees Monday.
Rep. Mark Hart, R-Falmouth, was reassigned to the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill, was assigned to the House Transportation Committee.
A spokesperson for House leadership did not immediately return a request for comment.
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