Kenny Colston, KPR-Frankfort

KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief
Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Governor Steve Beshear is allowing a bill regulating hemp in Kentucky to become law without his signature. Supporters of Senate Bill 50 were concerned that the governor might veto the bill after continuing expressing concerns law enforcement had with the bill that it would allow increased marijuana growing.

Creative Commons

Governor Steve Beshear has signed bills allowing alcohol sales on election day, reforming the state's pension system and finding revenue to pay for the reforms.The governor signed the bills today, two days before his deadline to do so.

Beau Biden campaign

Kentucky Democrats are bringing in a well-connected out-of-state politician  to headline their annual state dinner.  State Democrats aim for high-profile names to headline their annual Wendell Ford Dinner—this year they've booked Beau Biden, the Delaware Attorney General and the son of Vice President Joe Biden.

Photo by Joe Imel / Daily News, Bowling Green

Two national polls released this week show Kentucky Senator Rand Paul neck and neck with many other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Both Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling released surveys Wednesday showing Paul in second or third place in the early GOP primary field. Paul clocks in at 15 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, behind former vice presidential nominee and Congressman Paul Ryan at 17 percent, and fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio at 19 percent. 

Kentucky Courts

In a historic appointment, Governor Steve Beshear has named Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller of Fort Mitchell to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The appointment increases the number of women on the state's highest court to three. It is the first time the state Supreme Court has had three female justices on the bench. Keller replaces Justice Wil Schroder, who resigned January 17 due to health reasons.

Many of the bills Kentucky lawmakers passed in the final hours of this year's legislative session are still awaiting action by Governor Steve Beshear. Beshear has not yet signed or vetoed high-profile bills that would prepare Kentucky to grow industrial hemp, allow alcohol sales on election day and simplify voting for military service members stationed overseas.

File photo

With more than a year before the next elections, new political action committee has formed to help Republicans gain control of the Kentucky state House. The PAC—Pro-Jobs, Pro-Kentucky—was formed earlier this month by Scott Jennings, a longtime Kentucky  GOP political operative and Mike Adams, a former political director for the Republican Governor's Association.

Creative Commons

With the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned for the year, a look into lobbying spending during the session shows major dollars are still used to influence issues.  During the first two months of the this year's session, a total of $4.2 million was spent lobbying.  That's a 10 percent increase over the last 30-day session in 2011, according to Legislative Ethics Commission.

Creative Commons

The key issue for a new Louisville-based political action committee is candidates' use of reproductive rights as a campaign issue. Reproductive Rights for Kentucky PAC was born from the recent controversy when University of Louisville Hospital attempted to merge with Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. Critics of the merger raised concerns about CHI's adherence to Catholic religious directives—that certain reproductive health practices, such as tubal litigations, wouldn't be permitted at University Hospital.

Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky legislative leaders say they're proud of the 2013, with legislators having accomplished pension reforms, cleaned up other bills and passed others dealing with hemp, special taxing district and military voting. Many of the legislature's top priorities were passed in the 30-day session, although most of them were hatched as last minutes deals in the waning days of the session.

Kentucky's legislative leaders have passed two bills to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems, effectively staving off a special session on the issue.  The new plan would reduce a personal tax credit of $20 to $10, generating roughly 33 million in revenue that would go to General Fund, but lawmakers would use for pensions. It would also use revenue from technical changes in the state's tax code, as well as money from federal tax changes.

Kentucky lawmakers have achieved a compromise that would set up a regulatory framework should the federal government legalize industrial hemp.  The so-called hemp bill—Senate Bill 50—gives control of licensing of future hemp farmers to the Industrial Hemp Commission, but allow the Kentucky State Police to do background checks on the farmers.  The state Department of Agriculture would be given many administrative roles for licensing hemp farmers and the University of Kentucky would be charged with researching the issue.

Kentucky military personnel serving overseas will be able to get ballots electronically under legislation approved late Tuesday in the Kentucky General Assembly. How they send them back is still to be determined. Working until the last minute of the 2013 session, legislators went back to the original Senate version of the military voting bill that allowed for electronic sending of ballots to overseas military, but snail mail return of the ballot.

File photo

A bill that would allow a Christian health sharing organization to again operate in Kentucky is steps away from becoming law, if it's not vetoed. Senate Bill 3, called the Medi-share bill after Christian Care Medi-Share, on Tuesday passed the House 88-8 after amendments that require Christian Care Medi-Share to give more warnings to customers  that health sharing is not insurance.

Creative Commons

A bill requiring prompt pay for health care providers participating in Kentucky's Medicaid managed-care system is heading to the governor's desk—but it isn't veto-proof. The bill,  sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo and would move disputes between providers and managed care organizations to the Department of Insurance to be settled.

Kentucky Legislative Commission

The Kentucky House will vote Tuesday whether to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of the "religious freedom" bill. Many House Democrats supported the bill when it first came up for a vote, though the decision to consider the veto was more contentious when taken up in a Democratic caucus meeting Monday. Speaker Greg Stumbo expects the override to go through, but he's not sure how strong the support will be.

Legislative Research Commission

With only one day left in this year's legislative session, Kentucky House leaders are hopeful they have a deal to up shore up the state's underfunded pension system. But there may not be time to get it through the legislature.  House Democrats' are building support for a proposal that uses technical wrangling of revenue sources to cut some taxes while raising other funds to pay for pension reform. The current proposal would cut the gasoline tax by one cent, resulting in a loss of funds for the state road fund.

The Kentucky Lottery Corporation is moving ahead with a new Keno game and online lottery sales after unanimously approval from its board.  The board approved the new games with the hopes they would generate $85 million a year by 2023. State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach spearheaded the effort to expand to Keno and online as a way to help generate more revenue for the state.

File Photo

Kentucky's industrial hemp supporters lashed out Thursday against a last-minute amendment to the hemp bill that's been under consideration this year in the General Assembly. State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat and the majority floor leader, has proposed an amendment turning the Senate-approve hemp bill into a five year study. It also gives the licensing responsibilities to Kentucky State Police, which argues that legalized hemp would harm law enforcement efforts to target hemp's cousin, marijuana.

A Louisville businessman exploring a Republican primary against U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is setting up meetings with Tea Party groups in Central Kentucky. David Adams, a tea party activist from Central Kentucky, said he's planning to meet with Bevin next week in Lexington with other activists to familiarize themselves with Matt Bevin, the possible Republican Senate candidate and a Louisvillian who runs the Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing.

Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

State leaders are still working to find solutions to the Kentucky's troubled pension system—but he's not promising a deal the time the General Assembly regular session ends next week, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Monday.

After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18  celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law. Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.

Doug Wilson / Environmental Protection Agency

With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.