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Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

Kentucky House Speaker-elect Jeff Hoover discusses the upcoming legislative session, the Republicans taking the House, and his thoughts about being elected Speaker.
S11 E48 Length 28:01 Premiere: 12.19.16

Speaker-Elect Hoover on the New GOP House Majority

On election night back in November, Rep. Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) joined other state Republicans in a hotel suite in Louisville to watch the returns and see if the GOP might finally – after a 96-year drought – gain control of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Hoover says when they learned Republicans captured 51 seats and the majority, things got emotional.

Then as the GOP captured 54 seats, then 56, and then 60, the emotion turned into elation mixed with a little disbelief. But they weren’t done yet. The final tally for the night gave Republicans a 64 seat super majority in the state House.

“Our guys were excited, as you can imagine,” says Hoover, reflecting back on Election Day. “We celebrated a little bit and started to work on Wednesday afternoon.”

Hoover is a 20-year veteran of the chamber, where he represents Clinton, Cumberland, and Russell counties and part of Pulaski County. As of Jan. 3, he’ll be House Speaker Hoover as the General Assembly gavels in for a 30-day session. He appeared on KET’s One to One to discuss the GOP victories, his plans for the new Republican majority, and his life in politics.

Republican leaders had hoped to flip the House in 2014, but still fell five seats short of their goal. Hoover attributes that failure to not fielding enough candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats. So with organizational and moral support from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and a  recruiting effort by state Rep. Jonathan Shell (R-Lancaster), the GOP went into the 2016 elections with a record number of 91 House candidates.

Hoover says that strong field, combined with $4 million in campaign fundraising and a political environment that favored Republicans, finally gave the state GOP its long-sought majority.

Amidst the celebrating on election night, Hoover says he took a moment to call Sen. McConnell in Washington to tell him the good news. Both men reportedly got emotional during the conversation as Hoover told McConnell that “he can mark that off his bucket list because he wanted to see the House switch during his lifetime.”

Preparing to Lead the House
The speaker-elect has his work cut out for him, though. As of January, the House Republican caucus will have 23 new members, most of whom have never held public office. Hoover organized a retreat for the group earlier this month at Western Kentucky University, where they were debriefed on the state budget, the public pension crisis, and other policy issues. Next week Hoover says they’ll meet in Frankfort for a day-long mock House session to practice legislative processes and procedures.

”My number one priority as speaker from a personal standpoint is to change the tone in the House and to do that by the way we do business,” says the speaker-elect.

Hoover says he wants to start House sessions promptly at 2 p.m. each day and limit the introduction of guests to 10 minutes. (In previous years, representatives might not convene in chambers until 2:30 or later, and the recognition of special guests might take upwards of an hour.) He says he also wants to give lawmakers sufficient time to read the bills they’re voting on, and provide the new Democratic minority adequate representation on legislative committees.

“I sincerely want to make sure that even the minority has a voice in the process,” says Hoover. “I just repeatedly tell our folks: The minority can have good ideas.”

The speaker-elect also convened a transition team to help him prepare for his new role. That group comprised four Democrats and four Republicans who had previously served in the House and included two former House speakers. Hoover says he’s asked them to review House rules and procedures to find better, more efficient ways for lawmakers to do business in the chamber.

Setting the Legislative Agenda
Hoover and Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) have said they want to focus on jobs and economic issues during the short 2017 session. But the speaker-elect also wants to put pro-life legislation on the agenda. He is critical of how the outgoing Democratic majority in the House would let abortion-related bills that were passed by the Republican-controlled Senate languish in committee without discussion or votes. He says the only reason an informed consent measure passed the House and became law in 2016 is because House Republicans outmaneuvered Democrats to force a floor vote on the legislation.

“We’re not going to play those games on pro-life issues and those things that are important to people in Kentucky,” Hoover says.

As Republicans decide their other priorities for the session, Hoover says he wants his caucus to proceed cautiously. He says he will ask lawmakers to be guided by the principle of making Kentucky better. Even though Republicans and Democrats won’t always agree on how to achieve that goal, Hoover says he wants all 100 House members involved in the process.

“We have 64 members, we can do and pass whatever we believe we need to pass,” Hoover says. “But let’s do it in a respectful manner recognizing the role that the minority would have to play, because I’ve been there and it’s not fun to be in that position, so I’m going to try to do it better.”

The Path to House Speaker
You could say politics runs in the Hoover family as both his father and mother were elected to the state legislature.

Hoover was born in Clinton County and raised in Jamestown, where his parents owned and operated an FM radio station. Centre College recruited Hoover to play basketball even though the school offered no athletic scholarships. After completing a degree in government there, Hoover returned home to manage the family radio station while his father served as field representative for 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers.

After two years as station manager, Hoover attended the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. He was set to join a law practice there when tragedy struck at home.

Hoover’s father had been elected to the state House in 1986 to serve the same district the speaker-elect represents today. Welby Hoover completed his legislative orientation but died a few days later, having never been sworn into office. Hoover’s mother, Mae, won a special election to fill the seat, which meant their son needed to come home and run the radio station in her absence.

Hoover finally got to launch his own law practice in Jamestown in 1988. He married in 1992 and he and his wife have three daughters. Hoover won election to the state House in 1997 and has served as minority leader since 2001. When he takes his new post in January, Hoover will be the first Republican House speaker in the commonwealth since 1921.

Program Details

One to One

About One to One

Host Bill Goodman and a variety of interesting and engaging people talk about the state and world we live in. Important, memorable, and provocative, this series offers an array of interviews with guests including politicians and philosophers, artists and authors, and the leading thinkers in Kentucky.

TV Schedules

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Season 11

Mitch McConnell on Politics

S11 E49 Length 28:04 Premiere Date 12.19.16

Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

S11 E48 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 12.19.16

Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition

S11 E46 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 12.18.16

Former Congressman Barney Frank

S11 E45 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 12.11.16

Kentucky Youth Advocates

S11 E44 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 11.20.16

Ramez Naam and Seth Siegel

S11 E43 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 11.13.16

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle

S11 E42 Length 27:35 Premiere Date 11.6.16

Kentucky Book Fair Preview

S11 E41 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10.30.16

U.S. Sen Rand Paul

S11 E40 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10.23.16

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

S11 E39 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10.16.16

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S11 E38 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 10.9.16

Nancy Jo Kemper

S11 E37 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 10.2.16

Gary Gregg; Daniel Hayes

S11 E36 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 9.25.16

Adam Edelen and Matt Jones

S11 E35 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 9.17.16

Ky. Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey

S11 E34 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 9.11.16

Stephen Pruitt on Education Policy

S11 E32 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 8.28.16

Work Ready Skills Initiative

S11 E31 Length 27:52 Premiere Date 8.21.16

Mary Matalin and James Carville

S11 E30 Length 27:18 Premiere Date 8.14.16

BBC Anchor Katty Kay

S11 E29 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 8.7.16

Fancy Farm 2016 Preview

S11 E28 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 7.31.16

Kentucky's Open Records Law

S11 E27 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 7.24.16

Kentucky's Medicaid Waiver

S11 E26 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 7.17.16

The Future of Agribusiness

S11 E25 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 7.9.16

Sen. Mitch McConnell's Memoir

S11 E24 Length 29:46 Premiere Date 7.3.16

Oral Health Integration

S11 E23 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 6.19.16

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak

S11 E22 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 6.12.16

Pearse Lyons and Family

S11 E21 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 6.5.16

"Dreamland" Author Sam Quinones

S11 E20 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 5.29.16

Rethinking Pain Treatment

S11 E19 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 5.22.16

Drug Czar Michael Botticelli

S11 E18 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 5.15.16

Drug Addiction and the Brain

S11 E17 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 5.8.16

Kentucky's Opioid Abuse Epidemic

S11 E16 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 5.1.16

David Adkisson and Jason Bailey

S11 E15 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 4.24.16

Ben Chandler on Baseball and Family

S11 E14 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 4.17.16

Highlights from the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

S11 E13 Length 29:06 Premiere Date 4.10.16

Allison Ball and Ryan Quarles

S11 E12 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 4.2.16

Author Fenton Johnson

S11 E11 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 3.27.16

Rep. Sannie Overly

S11 E9 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 2.28.16

Kentucky's Republican Presidential Caucus

S11 E8 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 2.21.16

Education Secretary Hal Heiner

S11 E7 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 2.14.16

Presidential Politics in Kentucky

S11 E6 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 2.7.16

Gov. Bevin on Budget Proposals

S11 E5 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 1.29.16

Postsecondary Education Funding

S11 E4 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 1.24.16

House Speaker Greg Stumbo

S11 E3 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 1.17.16

Mitch McConnell on 2016

S11 E2 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 1.10.16

Senate President Robert Stivers

S11 E1 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 1.3.16

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