FRANKFORT — From his fourth floor office, Rep. Jonathan Shell, one of the key players in flipping control of the state House, is contemplating initiatives and positioning himself for a leadership role in the majority party.
Shell, R-Lancaster, has not publicly stated which position he will seek, rather keeping it among the 64 members the Republican supermajority. Republicans are meeting on Nov. 30 to make leadership selections during their caucus retreat.
Once the GOP elects their leaders they will officially craft a policy checklist of sorts for the upcoming session, but there could be a litany of legislation that will be proposed during the first session.
One of the issues that could be coming ahead of the 2018 midterms is redistricting. There were several major losses handed to Democrats as a Trump-led wave worked its way across the commonwealth.
Speaking with Shell in his office, which will likely soon move to the third floor, the 28-year-old said there is “legal precedence” to take up redistricting once the GOP decides they’d like to re-craft the maps, he’s just not sure when that will come up — or if it needs to.
“I think now that Kentucky has a new majority in the state House, that there is a political will there — that the people have spoken and they want this,” Shell said. “There is also an argument to be made there that the Democrats drew those districts very underhandedly in some areas.”
“Whether or not we feel the need to, or whether or not it’s necessary to do so, I think that it’s a coin flip on that part of it,” he continued. “Because, I think we have the candidates can withstand these districts.”
A major focus for Shell and the GOP will be passing legislation to get the state to a place where it’s “competitive again.”
Shell said he’s told folks that he doesn’t think it will take much to make the state competitive, among the bills to get there, Shell listed: right-to-work, school choice tax reform and tort reform.
“There’s so many things that Kentucky can do, and we don’t have to just rush through and do everything all at once and overwhelm ourselves,” he said. “At the same time, doing the small things right will make Kentucky a better place to do business.”
Shell predicted that under a GOP led House, business ideas would be “respected” and lawmakers would focus on what business owners need to be competitive and make them more profitable, so they can hire more employees.
Acknowledging the diversity of the new GOP caucus, Shell said the group will huddle in mid-December to figure out the will of the body, and what types of bills can and cannot pass.
“Kentucky, I think, is looking for us to do something,” Shell said. “What I keep telling our caucus members whenever I talk to them is we can easily lose it as easily as we gained it. We have no excuse. We have the governor’s mansion. We have the Senate. We have the House. Supermajorities in both. We need to do this right. We need to do it in a way that brings back hope to Kentuckians.”