Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission votes to sue state

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The board that oversees the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has voted to sue Gov. Andy Beshear's administration in an effort to keep the agency's current commissioner.

The vote Wednesday by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission comes amid a dispute between the panel and the administration on the contract extension of Commissioner Rich Storm, who was hired in January 2019, news outlets reported.

The commission voted earlier this year to extend Storm's contract for two years, but the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet only offered a one-year extension, which he declined.

An exasperated Beshear called the commission's decision to sue "silly" during a press conference about the coronavirus pandemic.

Beshear said his administration's offer was reasonable in a time when lawmakers chose to enact only a one-year budget during record unemployment because of the pandemic.

"No one was trying to say no to their pick. We were just trying to make them be financially responsible," he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission vote came after Chairman Karl Clinard said the Beshear administration "has thwarted our efforts, I believe, in an attempt to exert undue political influence over the commission and to access departmental funds."

The commission and Republican officials have pointed to other multi-year contracts approved by Beshear's administration.

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