House Speaker Makes Case for Campaign Finance Bill

Feb 2, 2016

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.

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.”

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.


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

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


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. 


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

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.”

Governor Matt Bevin has made his first official budget proposal, an outline of how the state should spend a little over $20 billion over the next two years.

The governor suggests major cuts across the board, with some notable exceptions. He also wants to base funding for universities on how well schools perform.

Capitol reporter Ryland Barton sat down with Jason Bailey, the executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, for this budget debrief.

  Kentucky environmental advocates are worried that budget reductions called for by Gov. Matt Bevin will make it impossible for the Energy and Environment Cabinet to perform its basic functions.

In his first budget proposal since taking office last month, Bevin on Tuesday called for across-the-board 9 percent budget reductions to most state agencies.

From 2012-2016, the cabinet has already seen its budget reduced by nearly 16 percent, and has implemented those cuts in various departments.

The cabinet’s responsibilities include implementing and enforcing federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, plus mine safety, surface mine permitting and reclamation, forestry, oil and gas regulation and preserving Kentucky’s wild areas.

University Presidents React to Governor Bevin’s Budget Plan

Jan 27, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


Governor Matt Bevin’s budget speech Tuesday night contained some sobering news for those in the higher education community.

Governor Bevin’s first budget plan calls for cuts to state cabinets and higher ed by 9% each over the next two years.  The proposal caught Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson a bit off guard.  “Well I think we’re all kind of stunned," Benson said. "We had heard a cut was coming, but nothing to the magnitude of what we heard tonight."

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Lexington’s ‘Black Males Working’ program has been detailed before a legislative committee in Frankfort.  The faith based program offered in Fayette County schools was discussed during Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting on charter schools. BMW's mission statement says they aim to educate, motivate, and activate the potential for excellence.   Founder Rosz Akins says out of BMW Academy’s 300 young men, 15 are members of the founding Baptist church.  “We have Muslims, we have all kinds of denominations; other faiths, no faiths at all," Akins said.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Ten Kentucky candidates have filed to run for U.S. Senate including the incumbent and the mayor of the state’s second largest city.  Lexington Mayor Jim Gray filed candidacy papers Tuesday morning, just hours ahead of the deadline.

With family at his side and a room full of cameras and reporters, second term Gray signed his candidacy papers in the Secretary of State’s office.

State Leaders in Both Houses Optimistic About Fall Elections

Jan 26, 2016

The deadline to file to run for office in Kentucky is at 4:30 pm Tuesday  afternoon. Leaders in both houses of the state general assembly are predicting a good cadre of candidates in this fall's elections. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s pleased with the crop of democrats signing up to run.  “We’ve had some folks we hoped would run again like Ashley Miller down in Jefferson County,” said Stumbo.  “She got really close last time, but you know, we’ve got some surprises too.”


Governor Matt Bevin will present his first two year budget plan Tuesday evening.  Two eastern Kentucky lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hope to hear about infrastructure funding.

Hyden Republican Representative Tim Couch would like to see road projects move forward.  While the expansion of the mountain parkway has gotten a lot of attention, Couch believe a similar approach to the Hal Rogers Parkway could foster economic opportunities.  “You’ve got a straight shot; the only bottle neck from Prestonsburg to Bowling Green is the Hal Rogers Parkway,” said Couch.

Mariam Gorjian is a commercialization specialist and director of the Venture Studio at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics. She talked with Tom Martin about the resources the studio makes available to help move a new idea, technology, product, or service from concept to the market place.

Barn Wood Thefts in Western Kentucky

Jan 25, 2016

Thieves are stealing wood from barns in Warren County.Warren County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Stephen Harmon says the thieves are taking advantage of the demand for reclaimed and weathered wood. “We’ve had three calls in the last 60 days from farmers who noticed barn wood that’s been stolen from their barns in rural parts of the county. The barn wood is very expensive and that’s what’s drawing them. A lot of home décor items are made from this wood,” said Harmon.

Taxing Coal in Kentucky

Jan 25, 2016

Two bills before the Kentucky House of Representatives would change the way the state taxes coal that’s left in the ground.  They would give exemptions to mineral rights owners if the coal isn’t going to be mined soon.

This “unmined minerals tax” adds up to a substantial amount: in 2014, Kentucky collected more than $39 million. Most of that—$34 million—went to the individual counties where the minerals are. The remainder went to the state.

Bills Focused on Child and Pet Safety

Jan 25, 2016

Efforts to provide civil protections for people who break into vehicles to rescue a child or pet are detailed in two bills moving through the state senate.  Both passed out of the judiciary committee last week.

Budget Address and Filing Deadline This Week in Frankfort

Jan 25, 2016

February 26 is a significant day in the 2016 Kentucky general assembly session for two primary reasons.  It’s the day lawmakers hear the two year budget suggestions from new governor Matt Bevin.  It’s also the candidate filing deadline for various races including the House of Representatives.  The political party makeup is closely divided between democrats and republicans.  Senate President Robert Stivers believes it will be hard to hold the party line.  “Neither party in my opinion will be able to hold all their members on every vote where there’s a constitutional majority needed,” said S

Lexington To Seek Proposals for Fiber Optic Network

Jan 22, 2016

Lexington is moving forward with plans to develop a much faster internet system throughout the urban community.  Members of the Council’s Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee were updated this week.  Chief Information Officer Aldona Valicenti says the aim is to get faster internet service out to neighborhoods.  “Businesses that will be part of doing, that’s the cost of doing business," said Valicenti. "The opportunity for individual citizens to have this capability in their home is really sort of at the heart of what we’re trying to do."

Lexington Mayor Urges Citizens to Stay Inside

Jan 22, 2016


Lexington officials are asking citizens to stay in today if at all possible.  Mayor Jim Gray says road crews have been preparing for this snowstorm for about a week.

The mayor says extra help to clear roads will be called in from several divisions along with private contractors.  

Citizens are being reminded not to park along marked snow emergency routes.  Emergency shelters will be open continuously through the weekend and the Catholic Action Center’s Compassionate Caravan will be out looking for people.


A bill intended to help in the prosecution of certain crimes against the very young, disabled, or elderly is on its way to the Kentucky House.  The measure got unanimous backing in the Senate Thursday.

Three Democrats File in Sixth District Congressional Race

Jan 22, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Three Democrats have filed this week in an attempt to unseat incumbent Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr.  Minister and long-time social activist Nancy Jo Kemper signed her candidacy papers Thursday in the secretary of state’s office.  “I frankly think we need some citizen legislators, people who represent the average person,” said Kemper.