FRANKFORT (AP) — It was a long day for the Kentucky Senate with bills stacking up and time winding down, but its ending Tuesday night was unprecedented when Gov. Matt Bevin walked into the chamber to offer a pep talk.
Minutes before the Republican-led Senate adjourned for the day, the GOP governor gave a short speech thanking senators for their productivity in passing a thick pile of legislation.
“You will look back on this day as a day that was truly as exemplary as any that you may well have of what you were sent here to do,” Bevin said. “A lot of good legislation came out of this body.”
After his brief remarks, a smiling Bevin chatted with senators from both parties and posed for pictures.
Longtime lawmakers could not recall another governor seeking permission to speak from the Senate floor when it was in session. Democratic Sen. Robin Webb said she didn’t see anything wrong with it.
“He didn’t talk about anything substantive,” she said. “He talked about working together and work product and glad that he got some bills. And I’m inclined to agree with him.”
Bevin, who took office in late 2015, told the senators that he appreciated their work. Bevin said he ran up the stairs from his first-floor office to see them before they wrapped up their work.
“The pile of bills that has successfully passed is stacking up on my desk, and that’s a good thing,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, later said he received a text from a Bevin aide indicating the governor wanted to speak to the Senate as it wrapped up for the day.
The Democratic-led House had adjourned earlier in the evening.
After his Senate speech, Bevin told reporters he also appreciated the House’s efforts.
Bevin’s appearance came as Republicans and Democrats are engaged in tense budget negotiations with only a couple of days left in the 2016 legislative session. Earlier Tuesday, Bevin blamed Democratic House leaders for refusing to negotiate on the budget.
Earlier this month, Bevin took to Facebook to complain in a video that the House was not in session on a late Monday morning. The House and Senate traditionally don’t convene until late Monday afternoons to give lawmakers from far-flung districts time to get to the Capitol. The state Democratic Party sent out a photo later that day of House Democratic leaders and other lawmakers working in a Capitol Annex meeting room.
It’s not the first time that Bevin, who ran for governor as a political outsider, has shown a flare for the unorthodox. In early February, Bevin signed an abortion-related bill into law after a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him in his Capitol office. The measure updated the state’s informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.