FRANKFORT – On Tuesday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced that veteran lawmakers Joni L. Jenkins and Tom McKee were elected to serve in leadership positions for two key standing committees within the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) during the organization’s Annual Meeting this week in Savannah, Ga.
Speaker Stumbo said State Rep. Jenkins of Louisville was re-elected to serve as chair of the SLC Committee for Human Services & Public Safety, while state Rep. McKee was elected to serve as chair of the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee following his service as vice-chair of the committee for 2014-15. Both legislators will serve a one-year term continuing through the 70th Annual SLC Meeting scheduled for July 9-13, 2016 in Lexington.
“Reps. Jenkins and McKee continue to prove their leadership and expertise in these important areas of policy development,” Speaker Stumbo said. “By working cooperatively with their peers, they help guide debate and create positive solutions to many of the issues we share in common with our 15 sister states within the SLC. I congratulate each of them for their hard work and thank them both for representing Kentucky with such honor and integrity. “
The SLC’s six standing committees provide a forum that allows policymakers to share their knowledge and skills with colleagues from across the South. By working together within the SLC and participating on its committees, Southern state legislative leaders are able to speak in a distinctive, unified voice while addressing issues that affect their states and the entire region, according to the SLC website.
Rep. Jenkins represents the state’s 44th legislative district in Jefferson County and serves as vice-chair of the House Labor & Industry Committee and is a member of the House Health & Welfare Committee. Rep. McKee represents the state’s 78th legislative district in Harrison, Pendleton and Scott counties and serves as chairman of House Agriculture & Small Business Committee.
The SLC’s Human Services & Public Safety Committee has a broad agenda which most typically addresses the challenges states face in the areas of human services and corrections, and policies and programs utilized to meet them. The committee has undertaken assessments of Medicaid and reform; nursing shortages; long-term healthcare; and such corrections issues as criminal justice DNA statutes; the aging inmate population; female offenders; mental health parity in prisons, and prison staffing patterns in Southern states.
The oldest of the standing committees, the SLC’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee’s agenda focuses on issues critical to the future of farming and farm communities. As the “engine of the economy,” agriculture constitutes a vital sector of the economies of most Southern states. A principal focus of the committee’s work centers on rural development and rural communities, convening a series of sessions that investigates the differences (and surprising similarities) between rural and urban America and how to begin to bridge the divides between these communities.
The SLC is the largest of four regional legislative groups operating under The Council of State Governments. The 15 SLC member states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. This year’s Annual Meeting was held July 18-22 and was expected to draw about 1,500
state lawmakers, policy experts, business leaders and judicial and executive branch leaders.
Speaker Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers are serving as co-chairs of the planning committee for SLC’s 70th Annual Meeting next July in Lexington. The event is expected to showcase attractions, activities and businesses in Lexington, the Bluegrass region and the entire state, and organizers anticipate a significant economic impact for the region.