Bourbon, Beer, Wine Legislation Clears Senate Committee

Jan 12, 2016

Omnibus legislation related to alcoholic beverages is headed to the full Kentucky Senate.  The measure, which contains provisions related to bourbon, beer, and wine businesses, came out of a committee Tuesday.  It allows for increasing the distillery souvenir shop sale of bourbon from four to twelve bottles.  Jason Underwood with Buffalo Trace Distillery favors keeping the current standard, “If someone just wants to buy a case and they never visit of the retail stores, well they’re not gonna find any of our other products.”  “Nor will they find the other products of the other distillers in

Kentucky Lawmakers May Again Discuss Capital Punishment

Jan 12, 2016

    Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky is once again before state lawmakers.  It’s unlikely the measure will be heard in the republican controlled senate.

This isn’t the first time veteran Louisville Senator Gerald Neal has filed legislation to do away with the state’s death penalty. And Neal says he’s waited as long as seven years to clear a bill in the general assembly.  “This is one of those kinds of bills cause it has a cultural base to it and change in this area is gonna be difficult,”  Neal said.

Senate Session Moving Slower Than 2015

Jan 12, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The pace in the Kentucky Senate during the 2016 session of the state general assembly is quite different from that of last year. During 2015’s 30 day session, senate republicans moved some of their priority measures during the first week.  Senate President Robert Stivers says it’s possible, but not likely, bills could make it to the floor by weeks’ end.  “We’re not under the time constraints that we were last year with the 30 day session.  We have a 60 day session this year, so we don’t feel pushed to move bills quickly,” said Stivers.

  Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has notified the federal government that Kentucky will dismantle its state health insurance exchange, Kynect.

The move will direct Kentuckians seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to use the federal health insurance site,

More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance through Kynect.

Kentucky LRC

A Louisville state senator has proposed requiring police departments to submit rape kits to the state testing lab within 30 days of receiving them.

Victims would also be notified of the testing progress. The backlog rape kits tests were the subject of a critical state audit last year.

Louisville Democratic Sen. Denise Harper Angel said the bill is “absolutely necessary.”

“Any victim of rape needs to know and deserves to know that their test is going to be tested and we have to get criminals off the streets,” Harper Angel said.

Via the WEKU Facebook page, Marcia wrote to us, “Sick of hearing about Trump. There are other candidates who deserve coverage.” 

We had an exchange of messages with Marcia, explaining that WEKU does not determine the coverage, or extent of it, within the national news shows such as Here and Now, Morning Edition and All Things Considered but that we will certainly make sure her concerns are shared with producers of those shows.

Committee Vote Expected This Week on Expansion of Safe Infants Act

Jan 11, 2016

A committee vote is expected this week on legislation to change requirements in Kentucky’s Safe Infants Act.  The current law allows parents to leave babies younger than three days old at a designated safe place.

Close Political Party Divide in Ky. House Could Impact Lawmaking

Jan 11, 2016

    Special elections for four vacant positions in the Kentucky House will take place on March 8.

The future political makeup of the state house is on the minds of more than a few legislators.  Special elections could result in a 50-50 democrat-republican tie in the House.  Lexington Democratic Representative Susan Westrom says entrenchment has been a problem in the past.  “We can’t always get every single thing that we want,” said Westrom.  “This job over here is about compromise and sometimes the compromise has been very difficult to get.”

Noah Day

Since September 11th of 2001, many Americans have feared or even shown hatred to practitioners of the religion of Islam. That fear and hatred have also affected members of the Sikh community, a culture in which the men wear beards and turbans and women often cover their heads.

Now a group known as the Interfaith Alliance of the Bluegrass is raising concerns about hate-filled rhetoric and actions against Muslims and Sikhs in Kentucky.


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray Considering U.S. Senate Run

Jan 8, 2016


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Rand Paul.  The news received a mixed reaction Friday in the state capitol.

Kentucky Senate Honors American Pharoah

Jan 8, 2016

    More than two months after American Pharoah’s historic race at the Breeders Cup in Lexington, the champion thoroughbred is continuing to receive accolades. A resolution was heartily embraced Thursday by the Kentucky Senate that recognizes the bluegrass birthplace of the grand slam racing winner.  

Kentucky Ag Department Forms New Commission on Hunger

Jan 7, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is establishing a new Commission on Hunger. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles made the announcement Thursday at the state capitol during a rally against hunger.  Quarles says the commission’s initial goal is to develop an inventory of agencies working to help hungry Kentuckians.  Quarles says the commission will consists of “A coalition of folks who are currently solving the problem, folks who are best abled positioned to solve the problem and folks who may not even know that they have the capacity to address this issue.”


Kentucky senate members are expected to consider a joint resolution pertaining to concealed carry regulations in Virginia.  The matter looks to have strong bipartisan support in the 38 member chamber.

House Committee Hears Presentation on Propane

Jan 6, 2016

Kentucky lawmakers will be asked to consider incentives for commercial haulers to convert from gasoline to propane fuel.  The legislation is being developed by Louisville Representative Steve Riggs.  Riggs chairs the House Local Government Committee which heard a presentation Wednesday on propane fuel.  “For commercial fleets it would be more things like rebates or tax incentives or something of that nature,” said Riggs.

Fort Knox

The aging Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox is being replaced with a new medical clinic.  It’s one of several wins for the Hardin County post contained  in the latest defense bill passed by Congress.

During a visit to Fort Knox Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell announced $80 million in federal funding for the project.  The current hospital was built nearly 60 years ago, making it one of the oldest in the Army.  

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The first day of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly brought with it the first citizen rally of the session.  Dubbed the ‘We are Kentuckians’ rally, the emphasis was on issues including racial equality, fairness, and clean air and water.  Ben Vivona attended the rally at the capitol rotunda. He held one corner of a large sign which read ‘people over profit.’   “It’s a human issue; everyone deserves to have a living wage,” Vivona said.  “If they’re working full time, they should be able to support themselves at the very least.”

State Senate GOP Leaders to Release Priority Bills Wednesday

Jan 5, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session is underway in Frankfort.  Senate majority leaders say they will unveil their legislative agenda Wednesday.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says priority bills are likely to focus on issues such as right to work, medical review of malpractice claims, repealing prevailing wage, and religious freedom.  "It’s going to look very similar to the priority list that we’ve passed the last several years and very similar to the campaign platform that Governor Bevin ran on last fall,” said Thayer.

Commonwealth Fund

States initiatives to expand health insurance coverage through either traditional Medicaid or private insurance have equally good outcomes for low-income adults, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Harvard’s School of Public Health study compared survey results from 5,600 low-income adults in Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas.

The study was released as Kentucky’s new governor mulls reforming the Medicaid expansion. Kentucky expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act while Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear was in office. Arkansas, however, used federal dollars to pay for private health insurance for low-income adults.

State House Democrats will once again try to push through a bill that would allow the state to borrow $3.3 billion to shore up the ailing teacher pension system, which is short $24 billion to make future payments.

Last year, the bill passed out of the House but was met with stiff opposition from leaders in the Republican-led Senate, which favored studying the problem to come up with structural changes to the pension system.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the top Democratic official in Frankfort, said even if lawmakers come up with changes to the pension system, the fund needs an influx of cash.

The 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly begins on January 5th.  Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dave Adkisson joined Tom Martin for a look at the business organization’s top priorities for the 2016 session.

New Year Marks Spike In Gun Violence In Lexington

Jan 5, 2016

Lexington Police are investigating two fatal shootings and three other gun related incidents.  All of the cases occurred between January 1 and 3.  Police Spokeswoman Sergeant Ann Welch says some states are seeing an increase in violent crime.  “And while nationally that might be true, we are seeing more consistent statistics here in Lexington,” Welch said.  “But what we have seen is an increase in our shootings.”

Kentucky Approach to Lawmaking One of Many

Jan 5, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Kentucky lawmakers aren’t the only officials heading to their state capital this month.  There are distinct differences in general assemblies from state to state.

One of Kentucky's top elected Democrats said Monday he is concerned the struggling party will not be able to field a viable candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in November.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said he has been working with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to recruit potential candidates. He said some viable candidates are thinking about running for the seat but would not say they were likely to run. 

Funding for the state's pension system, charter schools, healthcare, and the budget are all topics for this year's session of the General Assembly. On this week's Eastern Standard we'll be discussing the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Guests for this week's program include:

Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald Leader.

Stu Johnson from our very own WEKU newsroom.

and Jason Bailey Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Development.

Here’s a note from one of our earliest donors of the year 2016.  Daniel writes from Jellico, Tennessee, “I am an alumnus of Eastern Kentucky University. I recently left central KY to move back home and pursue my PhD at the University of Tennessee. My time in Richmond will always be special to me, and WEKU was a big part of that. I'm still listening!.”

Here’s a note from one of our earliest donors of the year 2016.  Daniel writes from Jellico, Tennessee, “I am an alumnus of Eastern Kentucky University. I recently left central KY to move back home and pursue my PhD at the University of Tennessee. My time in Richmond will always be special to me, and WEKU was a big part of that. I'm still listening!.” 

Lexington’s Children’s Museum Marks 25th Anniversary

Jan 4, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


Lexington’s children’s museum, the ‘Explorium’, this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  20-16 will feature new exhibits while keeping long time favorites.

Lexington Fire Chief to Retire

Dec 30, 2015

Lexington’s Fire Chief has announced his retirement, effective next month. Chief Keith Jackson is the first African American to lead firefighters in the state’s second largest city.

Keith Jackson has spent a quarter century in public safety from firefighter, to paramedic, to hazmat supervisor, to fire major, then chief. Mayor Jim Gray says Jackson leaves behind a division fully staffed and fully equipped. 

Kentucky Police On Lookout For Impaired Drivers During Holiday

Dec 30, 2015

As we ring in the New Year law enforcement officers across Kentucky will be monitoring traffic for impaired drivers. State Police Spokesman Robert Purdy says rather than getting behind the wheel intoxicated, holiday party-goers should opt for a taxi, a ride sharing service, or staying put.  “Not worth getting out on the roadway risking hurting yourself, somebody else, killing somebody, killing yourself, or even being arrested and being charged with DUI,” Purdy said.  “All those options are very costly.”

Burley Grower Issues in 2016

Dec 30, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The number of tobacco growers in Kentucky has declined by tens of thousands over the last decade.  But, the long standing auction based sales practice has never gone away.