Stumbo's lawsuit over Bevin's vetoes dismissed
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by former House Speaker Greg Stumbo challenging the legality of vetoes of various House bills last year by Gov. Matt Bevin.
In a five-page order, Shepherd declined to address the merits of Stumbo's challenge, but dismissed the case because he said Stumbo no longer has legal standing to press the case because he is no longer speaker of the House.
Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, was defeated for re-election last November and has since been replaced as speaker by Rep. Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown Republican.
Stumbo filed the suit last spring, arguing that Bevin's vetoes of five bills and multiple items in the budget bill were improperly signed and delivered. He also said some of Bevin's vetoes of budget items were invalid because reasons were not included explaining why the items were vetoed.
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If Stumbo had won the case and the vetoes were declared invalid it could have resulted in restoration to the budget of vetoed items that included $420,000 for the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation, expanded eligibility tor preschool, and $7.5 million for indigent health care in Jefferson County.
Shepherd dismissed the case because he said Stumbo lacked standing since he left office at the end of 2016.
"In light of the separation-of-powers concerns presented in this case, and because a transition of power has taken place removing Speaker Stumbo's standing as the presiding officer of the House, the court finds it improvident to adjudicate this matter further," Shepherd said.
Stumbo said he was surprised by the ruling because the parties in the lawsuit and an attorney representing Hoover's office signed an agreed order substituting Hoover as the plaintiff in the case. He said he was disappointed because he filed the suit, not as an adversarial action against Bevin, but to raise important legal questions about the veto process that he hoped to have resolved.
Steve Pitt, the attorney for Bevin's office, said, "We're pleased with the order. We're glad all the vetoes stand. And good riddance to another politically-motivated lawsuit."