The Kentucky state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky.

The Kentucky state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky lawmakers pushed a bill through to the Senate that would allow for constitutional and state lawsuits to be filed and ruled on by circuit judges where the complaint originates.

Currently, all constitutional and state government lawsuits in Kentucky must be filed and decided in Franklin Circuit Court by only two judges: Thomas Wingate and Phillip Shepherd.

"Why should two judges have the ability to decide all constitutional questions concerning the commonwealth of Kentucky, when all of these judges ... are qualified to hear these cases?" said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Ed Massey, R-Hebron.

The original writing of House Bill 3 would have created a panel of three randomly selected judges to rule on cases across the state, but a Senate committee sub amended that Tuesday to require that those cases be filed in the circuit of the plaintiff.

"It just makes common sense that we should have these cases, even on a constitutional scale, to be heard in the jurisdiction where the plaintiff is aggrieved," Massey said.

Louisville Democratic Sen. Karen Berg argued, along with Tom Fitzgerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, that there is no need for the bill.

"To me, this is micromanagement beyond micromanagement to fix a problem that does not even exist," Berg said.

Berg was the lone no vote in committee Tuesday but noted that Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. has called the bill an 'invasion of separation of powers.'

"I do not believe it is our job as the legislative branch to instruct the judicial branch as to how to manage their responsibilities," Berg said. "In fact, I see that as potentially dangerous."

The committee chair, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, told the bill's sponsor that Minton informed him that doing away with the panel now respects separation of powers.

Minton did not attend the committee meeting Tuesday.

The committee pushed House Bill 3 to the full Senate. It is expected to be voted Wednesday.

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