Package Liquor Quota Bill Advances to Full House

Mar 28, 2018

Legislation seeking to put into law an existing quota regulation for package liquor licensing continues to move through the Kentucky general assembly.  An effort to weaken the measure fell short in a House Committee Tuesday.

Kentucky Gang Bill Rolls Forward, Despite Protest

Mar 27, 2018
Stu Johnson

A bill that would broaden the definition of criminal gangs, give longer prison sentences to those labeled as gang members and increase penalties for gang recruiting is close to becoming law in Kentucky.

Supporters say the measure would discourage gang activity in the state, while opponents argue it would wrongly label some defendants as gang members and disproportionately affect African-American communities.

Stu Johnson

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he tends to focus on congressional decisions more than comments coming out of the White House.  

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky General Assembly will work this week to wrap up action on a number of issues.  That may not include final votes on public pension reforms.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Seeks Hemp Action in Washington

Mar 26, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants to revive hemp as a major agricultural product in the U.S. and plans to file a bill to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.

It’s currently illegal to grow hemp without a permit because it’s a member of the same species as cannabis. But, hemp has a negligible amount of the high-inducing compound THC.


McConnell told a room full of hemp promoters in Frankfort on Monday that he thinks the country is ready to legalize the plant.

Focus On Business: Dr. Stephen Dobson on Mosquito Mate

Mar 26, 2018

Spring is here and coming soon: mosquito season, with heightened concerns about diseases that these insects might transfer to humans. Today, Tom Martin talks with Stephen Dobson, a professor of medical entomology, about "Mosquito Mate", a spinoff of research Dr. Dobson conducted at the University of Kentucky.

Capitol Annex Cafeteria Future Up for Debate

Mar 26, 2018
Stu Johnson

There are lots of items on the negotiating table as legislative leaders from the House and Senate try to reach agreement on a state budget. That includes a matter near and dear to lawmakers and visitor’s stomachs. 

Along with discussions about education funding, Medicaid, and pensions, lawmakers are debating the future of the Capital Annex Cafeteria.

Republicans Writing Budget For First Time In Kentucky History

Mar 26, 2018
Stu Johnson

State legislative leaders said they made progress after the first day in Kentucky history that Republicans were in control of budget negotiations. But capitol reporter Ryland Barton says major differences between the state House and Senate versions of the two-year spending plan remain. 

The Senate opposes the House’s proposal to raise about $500 million in revenue by increasing the cigarette tax and creating a tax on opioid pain pills.

Meanwhile the House put about a $1 billion more in the teachers’ pension system than the Senate did.

The rain wasn’t enough to keep hundreds of people from showing up to rally for stricter gun laws and safer schools in Marshall County on Saturday. The west Kentucky March For Our Lives event was in solidarity with demonstrations that took place across the country.

“It took me a while to find my voice, but now that I have I won’t stay silent.” That’s Lili Dunn. She’s a student at Marshall County High School where a shooter opened fire in January, killing two and injuring more than a dozen. Dunn and other students took turns delivering speeches at the rally. 

Abortion Procedure Ban Nears Final Passage In Kentucky

Mar 23, 2018
Stu Johnson

A bill that would prohibit a common abortion procedure after the 11th week of pregnancy is nearing final passage from the Republican-led state legislature.

House Bill 454 would ban dilation and evacuation abortions after the 11th week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. The procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus using surgical tools and suction.

The bill passed out of the state Senate on Thursday and now returns to the House, which will consider a change made since it originally passed that chamber earlier this month.

Senate Approves Two Year Road Plan

Mar 23, 2018

The Kentucky Senate has approved the two year road plan which includes both new pavement and bridge repairs all across the Commonwealth.

EKU President Outlines Potential Budget Reductions

Mar 22, 2018

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson is alerting the university community of far reaching cost saving measures now under consideration.  That could include job reductions totaling 200.

In a campus wide email, Benson said the Budget Advisory Committee was charged with coming up with a plan to deal with an anticipated $25 million budget impact over the 2019-2020 fiscal years.  He says the budget dilemma involves additional pension costs, along with projected state cuts in funding, plus decreased tuition revenues.

Senate Acts to Add Family Court Judges

Mar 22, 2018

The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation calling for additional family court judges in needed service areas.  While the bill easily passed, there were still significant concerns expressed during floor debate.

 Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer believes more comprehensive judicial redistricting is needed. “It is my hope that we will continue to consider addressing judicial redistricting so we can provide access to justice to those growing regions of the state with dockets that are backed up as far as the eye can see,” said Thayer.

Stu Johnson

Legislation assuring that Kentucky public school students will be taught about the Holocaust has won final passage in the general assembly.  A holocaust survivor who lives in Kentucky was in attendance for the vote.  

81 year old Fred Gross was held in a concentration camp in France during World War II.  His brother, 13 years older, escaped and returned to help free captives, but Gross says they remained in hiding before making it to Switzerland. Gross remained on the floor of the Senate for the discussion and unanimous vote. 

Overhaul Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Passes Kentucky Senate Panel

Mar 21, 2018

A bill that would overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation system continues to roll forward in the state legislature despite opposition from law enforcement and labor groups.

House Bill 2 is a top priority of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and is also supported by the Kentucky Coal Association, who say that businesses have to pay too much for workers’ compensation insurance.

Tyler White is the president of the Kentucky Coal Association.

Female Incarceration Reforms Move on to Full House

Mar 21, 2018

Legislation to bring reforms to female prisons appears headed for final passage.  The senate measure got the approval Wednesday of the House Judiciary Committee.

Louisville Senator Julie Raque Adams wanted to keep the bill narrowly focused on incarcerated women and not be expanded to include broader criminal justice reforms.

“That was really my intent all along in filing this bill is to kind of address the problems we see with females who are incarcerated and I didn’t want that message to get watered down in a bigger bill,” said Raque-Adams

Kentucky Senate Budget Keeps Most Of Bevin’s Cuts, No New Revenue

Mar 20, 2018
Stu Johnson

Republicans in the state Senate have proposed keeping most of the budget cuts sought by Gov. Matt Bevin, while rejecting House Republicans’ plan to raise about $500 million through taxes on cigarettes and pain pills.

The spending plan quickly passed out of committee Tuesday morning and passed out of the full Senate after a debate Tuesday evening.


Stu Johnson

Senate consideration of the state budget Tuesday concluded with the measure passing generally along party lines with Democrats voting against the bill and Republicans for the spending plan. The floor debate which preceded the vote featured an often-heard refrain in Frankfort. 

Youth All Terrain Vehicle Legislation Advances

Mar 20, 2018

Legislation proponents say seeks to align Kentucky’s definition and classification of youth all-terrain vehicles with federal standards is making its way through the legislature.  

Rail Traffic Could Resume at Crash Site Tuesday

Mar 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

Clean up work is moving along quickly following a two train head-on collision near Georgetown Sunday night.  While an investigation is ongoing, a Norfolk Southern Railroad Representative says rail traffic is expected to resume Tuesday.

Senate Acts on Outside Attorney Fees

Mar 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has acted to limit attorney fees for certain personal service contracts.  Proponents and opponents both say the change could affect taxpayers when it comes to legal action tied to opioid distribution.

The measure, approved 26 to 12 along party lines, sets standards and rules for state agencies in awarding contingency fee contracts for legal services.  Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones argued it seeks to hamstring the attorney general going after opioid manufacturers.

Trains Collide,Derail in Georgetown. 4 People Injured

Mar 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

  GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — Two freight trains collided and derailed shortly before midnight, injuring four people and igniting a fire that forced nearby residents to evacuate, authorities said Monday.

Nearby residents were evacuated "out of an abundance of caution after the crash was reported at 11:14 p.m., Lexington Fire Lt. Jessica Bowman told The Associated Press. Bowman said she couldn't confirm what substance had spilled and was burning, but the people were allowed to return home once safety risks were ruled out.

Tom Martin talks with Dr. Thomas Erekson, Dean of the EKU College of Business and Technology, about a new ranking of Kentucky's business climate.

Teachers Keep Up Presence at State Capitol

Mar 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

Kentucky educators, both past and present, have been busy making a visible presence at Frankfort’s State Capitol over the past couple of weeks.  That’s likely to continue during this last full week of the 2018 session.

Senate Budget Vote On Tap for This Week

Mar 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

Members of the Kentucky Senate are expected to vote this week on a two year budget.  A vote before the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee could come as early as Tuesday.  Senate consideration of pension reforms have stalled.

WEKU’S Stu Johnson asked Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer if the biennial budget document could include pension provisions. “Nothing structural, I mean, obviously the funding of pension systems, all eight of them, is including in the budget,” said Thayer

“But nothing in the reform area?” Asked Johnson.

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky general assembly would have more say over implementation of executive orders issued by governors under a bill approved today in the state senate.

The Kentucky Senate has voted overwhelming to change the candidate filing deadline for those running for the general assembly. Proponents say it could help dispel perceptions that January is a relatively unproductive month at the state capitol.

Sports Agent Legislation Heads on to the House

Mar 16, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has passed legislation tightening the requirements under which sports agents operate in the Commonwealth.  Both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky have been mentioned in recent FBI investigations that allege agents paid or loaned money to college basketball recruits or their families. 

Bill Sponsor Morgan McGarvey says the measure levies financial penalties following improper conduct by an agent.

Stu Johnson

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about efforts to reduce production of opioids Thursday during a stop in Lexington.  The Trump administration A-G also met with a group of central Kentuckians who lost loved ones to opioid overdoses.

In speaking to federal and state prosecutors plus many from the law enforcement community, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted 64,000 Americans lost their lives to an overdose in 2016, roughly the same number as the population of Bowling Green.  

‘Compromise’ On Judicial Redistricting Seeks To Help Overworked Judges

Mar 15, 2018

Instead of tackling a comprehensive plan to reshuffle judgeships around Kentucky to alleviate overworked judges, the state legislature is poised to pass a more limited approach.

The changes would reallocate two judgeships from areas that have light caseloads and move them to areas with heavy caseloads.

Chief Justice John Minton said he would prefer more ambitious changes, but the compromise would still help courts with the most critical needs.