TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

November 12, 2010

Senate president wants 17th Amendment repealed

CORBIN — LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky Senate President David Williams told a group of law students that state legislators, not voters, should choose members of the U.S. Senate — comments that drew a negative reaction from Kentucky’s two senators.

Declaring himself “a tea partier,” Williams on Wednesday called for repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides for popular election of U.S. senators, the Lexington-Herald Leader reported.

Williams is seeking the Republican nomination for governor next year.

In his speech to the University of Kentucky Law School Federalist Society, Williams said that most of the problems with the federal government stem from the 17th Amendment, adopted in 1913.

He said the amendment prevents state legislatures from having input into the ever-growing role of the federal government with its mandates, such as this year’s health care overhaul.

Williams’ comments on repealing the amendment drew strong reaction from Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

“Taking that sacred right away from the American people and giving it to politicians would be a huge step backward for our democracy,” said McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer.

Bunning, who is retiring when his term ends in January, said in a statement, “The way it is now is the proper way to do it.”

David Adams, campaign manager for Phil Moffett, Williams’ rival in next year’s GOP gubernatorial primary, accused Williams of lifting Moffett’s idea. Adams accused Williams of going to Moffett’s Web site “to try to pick off some Tea Party ideas.”

Adams noted that in September Moffett told a Libertarian Party meeting in Lexington that he favored repeal of the 17th Amendment.

Asked after his presentation why he raised the issue of the 17th Amendment, Williams said he was invited to come to the law school to discuss “the problems that are inherent as to the level of checks and balances between the various branches of government.”

Williams acknowledged the chance is “almost nil” that Congress would initiate repeal of the 17th Amendment. He also said he would not spend much of his time on the gubernatorial campaign trail talking about the 17th Amendment.

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