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state.com

Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet secretary is not expecting any short term rebound in the eastern Kentucky coalfields.  Charles Snavely appeared before the senate’s natural resources committee this week.  Snavely was asked about the issue by Pike County Senator Ray Brown.  “Is there any hope for a rebound in the central Appalachian coalfields? Asked Jones.

“Well, I regret you ask me that question in a public forum because if you ask me a question, I’m gonna give you the answer,” replied Snavely.

Bicycling Bill Makes Room for Cyclists on Kentucky Roadways

Feb 5, 2016
kentucky.com

The Kentucky Senate Transportation Committee has unanimously backed a bill to require motorists to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them.  Lexington biking enthusiast Bill Fortune attended this week’s hearing in Frankfort.  He believes the three foot requirement is a safe and reasonable distance.  Fortune would also like to see related signage.  “It is signed in many states so that on highways where, particularly where there are cyclists, it will show a cyclist and say ‘give them three feet’, something along those lines," Fortune explained.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    

Former State Senator and civil rights legend Georgia Powers was remembered Thursday during a service at the Capitol Rotunda.   Powers was the first African American elected to the Kentucky senate and a key organizer of the 1964 civil rights march in Frankfort.   KET’S Renee Shaw opened the ceremony as Powers lay in state just a few feet away.  “It is indeed a high honor to participate in this capital farewell to civil rights trail blazer and icon, Senator Georgia Davis Powers,” said Shaw.

Kentucky Senate Passes Religious Freedom Bill

Feb 5, 2016
wkyt.com

The Kentucky Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the so called ‘religious freedom’ bill.  Among other things, the measure would allow students in Kentucky elementary and secondary schools, as well as universities, to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in class assignments.  Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas cast an Aye vote Thursday.  “We ought to have freely as a society here in Kentucky the ability to express our religious opinions in schools, on the sports fields, in plays and whatever,” said Thomas.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Governor Bevin’s proposed higher education cuts came under review during a house budget subcommittee meeting Thursday.  The governor is suggesting trimming university budgets by nine percent over the next two years.  Budget Review Subcommittee Chair Arnold Simpson expressed concern about the impact on tuition.  “For every dollar we cut for higher education, approximately 70 cents has been charged in additional tuition,” said Simpson.

peoacwa.army.mil

A revision in Kentucky law related to the disposal of mustard and nerve agent munitions at the Blue Grass Army Depot is being sought in Frankfort.  Members of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee unanimously approved the reclassification of secondary waste Wednesday. 

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    

A Kentucky House Committee has approved a measure that would increase penalties for the possession and trafficking of synthetic drugs. Proponents of the measure are hopeful it will curb the spread of a very trendy synthetic.

Flickr/Creative Commons / U.S Dept. of Agriculture

Thousands of Kentucky residents have two months to look for work or job training to keep their food stamp benefits.  Anya Weber of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says food stamp recipients have until April 1 to comply with the new requirements.  

"Able-bodied adults without dependents will need to meet a 20-hour work or training requirement," says Weber. "This is going to affect approximately 17,500 able-bodied adults in eight counties."

Those counties are Bullitt, Daviess, Fayette, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, McCracken and Warren.

Wikipedia

Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign, saying that he’ll focus his energy on running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.”

The pressure for Paul to drop out of the presidential race had been mounting after spending much of the past six months polling in the single digits.

Paul finished fifth in the Iowa Republican Caucus, taking 4.5 percent of the vote.

Senate Passes Pension Accountability Bill

Feb 3, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The state legislature continues to search for a way to address the $31 million needed to shore up its pension funds for state workers, and teachers.  For now, the state senate has acted on what’s being called a pension transparency and accountability measure.  Owensboro Senator Joe Bowen explained the bill on the floor Tuesday.  “This bill is about this body, the legislature, to be proactive rather than reactive,” said Bowen.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    

Hundreds of people with disabilities rallied at the state capitol Tuesday to highlight the importance of state-supported services for the disabled. Governor Bevin told participants that he’s recommending more funds for programs that assist the disabled.

Kentucky Establishes Automotive Caucus

Feb 2, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The newly formed Kentucky Automotive Caucus membership includes about half of the state general assembly.  The group was officially recognized during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday.  Toyota’s Kim Menke says Governor Bevin’s comments on workforce development during his budget address touched on a key issue.  “We want to continue to be able to operate with our existing businesses with the retirement waves that are coming,” Menke said. “Being able to back fill those positions and then we all want to grow as well.”

Associated Press

It was quick, albeit unorthodox, when Kentucky's governor signed into law an abortion bill as soon as a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him.

The first bill signed by Gov. Matt Bevin since taking office updates the state's informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.

The bill gives patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.

Gary Burke / Flickr

State legislators are once again being called upon to allow casino gambling in Kentucky as a way to pump revenue into the ailing pension systems for public employees.

Expanded gaming has been pushed during legislative sessions for years as an answer to Kentucky’s financial woes, but it’s never gotten enough traction to pass.

That doesn’t mean the supporters will stop pushing. On Tuesday, Greater Louisville Inc. announced its support for a bill proposed by two Louisville state senators. In a news release, GLI noted that Kentucky loses tax revenue each year to casinos in bordering states.

“These are dollars that could be going toward our state deficit and our significant pension obligations,” GLI President Kent Oyler said in the news release.

kentuckytourism.com

State House Democrats say they likely will not approve $650 million worth of state spending cuts as outlined in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's budget proposal.

The resistance sets up a budget battle one month ahead of four special elections that could shift the balance of power in the legislature.

commons.wikimedia.org

Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are toasting another year of strong sales and revenue growth. Leading the way is growing demand for high-priced, super-premium brands.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015. Domestic volume rose 5.2 percent.

House Speaker Makes Case for Campaign Finance Bill

Feb 2, 2016
courier-journal.com

A campaign finance bill that would clear the way for larger donor contributions is on the move in the Kentucky House.  The Elections Committee approved the measure Monday.  Among other things, it would allow for individual and political action committee donations to increase from $1,000 to $2,000 dollars.   House Speaker Greg Stumbo is chief sponsor of the bill.  “One of the things that’s wrong with American politics these days is this influx of huge out of state dark money, soft money, whatever you want to call it,” said Stumbo.  “All this does is try to level the playing field a bit.”

Voting Restoration Measure Again Heading House Floor

Feb 2, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Kentucky House members will consider a constitutional amendment measure this session that would restore voting rights to nonviolent former felons. It won the approval of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Monday. 

commons.wikimedia.org

The “informed consent” abortion bill is heading to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.

The state Senate concurred on Monday with the House’s version of the legislation, which would require women seeking an abortion to meet with a doctor 24 hours in advance of the procedure in person or over live video.

The bill, which passed the Senate 33-5, would be Bevin’s first signed into law.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    

Fire investigators are continuing to comb through debris at the former Blue Grass Stockyards in Lexington, searching for a cause for a massive weekend fire.  Governor Matt Bevin toured the scene Monday and talked to those impacted.

Following Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s announcement of his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Rand Paul, listener Tracey wrote to us on Facebook, “I would like to ask that the reference to Mayor Gray as Lexington's first openly gay mayor be stopped. It's irrelevant to his campaign. If the descriptor remains, then all the candidates should be described by their sexual identity also.”

sannieoverly.com

Kentucky Democrats have chosen state Rep. Sannie Overly as party chairwoman after a two and a half month search.

The Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Committee unanimously elected Overly its new chairwoman Saturday. Overly is a state representative from Paris and chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, the first woman to ever hold that position. She was Jack Conway's running mate during his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.

Latest on Bluegrass Stockyards Fire

Jan 31, 2016
Matt Goins / Lexington Herald Leader

Investigators say they are interviewing witnesses to a massive fire that destroyed a beef cattle auction business in Kentucky.

Lexington Fire Department spokesman Joe Best said Sunday that it's too early to determine the cause of the fire. The blaze Saturday destroyed seven acres of the stockyards operated by the Blue Grass Livestock Marketing Group. No one was injured. The flames also consumed several nearby businesses.

Best says officials are interviewing business owners and others.

The fire churned up a plume of thick, black smoke that darkened the skies for miles. Best says firefighters continued putting out smoky hot spots on Sunday when gusty winds picked up.

A guest on campus at Eastern Kentucky University will talk on the topic: “What If We Live Off Earth: Exploring our Future in Space.”    

On this week’s Eastern Standard, we’ll meet astronomer, educator and author Chris Impey. Professor Impey will be delivering a talk as part of the EKU Chautauqua Lecture Series.

You’re welcome to join us for a “live” recording of the show at the Hummel Planetarium on the EKU Campus.

Kentucky Civil Rights Pioneer Georgia Powers Dies

Jan 30, 2016
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Former Kentucky state Sen. Georgia Powers has died at the age of 92.

Powers was the first African-American and first woman elected to the Kentucky Senate, where she served for 21 years beginning in 1968. 

Powers was born in Springfield in Washington County, but she grew up in Louisville. She became involved in social justice work during the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1964, Powers helped organize a 10,000-person march on the state Capitol building in Frankfort, demanding a ban on discrimination against African-Americans in restaurants and hotels. She was joined in the march by Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson and folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary.

lanereport.com

    

The Kentucky Senate has voted to require cardiopulmonary resuscitation training for all public high school students across the state.  Proponents say the bill is aimed at broadening the number of people trained in CPR.

Tanning Bed Bill Moves to House Floor

Jan 28, 2016
kentucky.com

Minors would be prohibited from using tanning beds in Kentucky under a bill heading to the House floor.  The measure passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday.   Testifying in support of the bill was Deputy Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Connie White.  “We used to never see melanoma in someone before they were 50 because it took you 50 years of ultra violet exposure before this happened,” White said.  “And as tanning beds have increased in use, that’s when we starting seeing that spike.”

Prohibition on Sale of Fetal Body Parts Passes Kentucky Senate

Jan 28, 2016
wkyufm.org

    

A measure to prohibit the sale of fetal body parts in Kentucky easily won approval Wednesday in the state Senate.  The sale of fetal body parts is already prohibited by federal law.

  Last year, Kentucky received a grade of "F" from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for its firearm legislation.  During the 2016 General Assembly, lawmakers have introduced multiple bills that defend the rights of gun owners in the Commonwealth. 

On this week's show, we'll discuss Kentucky's Relaxed Stance on Firearm Regulation. 

Guests:

Joe Kalil, a former military officer & pilot and an NRA certified Concealed Carry Instructor, and the designer of the School POST Program which is designed to mitigate active shooter threats in schools.

State Senate Committee Approves Medical Review Panel Bill

Jan 27, 2016
courier-journal.com

Legislation requiring medical review panels for all cases of doctor negligence in Kentucky is again headed to the full senate.  The measure passed out of the Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday.  Sponsor Ralph Alvarado says three doctors would form a review panel to make a non-binding determination. “I know from my training, I know how physicians are," Alvarado said.  "We are brutally honest.  I’ve reviewed cases of nursing homes where they didn’t do anything wrong, but the doctor did and I exposed that information.” 

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