The Legislative commission on Friday approved appointment to two major positions —Legislative Counsel and a new title of General Counsel.
Republicans generally voted against the appointments, not because they had a problem with creation of a General Counsel, which would be co-equal to the Legislative Counsel, but because the proposed General Counsel was Kevin Powers.
Republicans blame Powers for the opinion that allowed Democrats to pass an extension of the higher Modified Business Tax without a two-thirds vote.
The commission named Bryan Fernley, a respected LCB lawyer, as the Legislative Counsel to replace Brenda Erdoes, who has been appointed LCB Director. She defended the decision saying the legal needs of LCB’s legal division have grown in volume and complexity.
Despite objections to the appointment of Powers as General Counsel, none of the lawmakers showed concerns about creating a new director-level position outside of the budget and outside of the legislative process. And doing so as the state prepared for major budget cuts across all segments of state government.
That position, like the Legislative Counsel, will pay in the neighborhood of $150,000 a year — more than the state’s major department heads make. In addition, legislative positions at that level are paid overtime during legislative sessions, which executive branch directors cannot receive.
Republicans argued the vote should be split in two — first for the creation of the General Counsel position and second for who should be appointed to that position and the new Legislative Counsel.
The Democratic majority rejected that request.