House Speaker Greg Stumbo is blasting a report that recommends the University of Pikeville not be moved into the state university system. Stumbo is a chief supporter of making UPIKE Kentucky’s ninth public university. But a report by an outside agency commissioned by Governor Steve Beshear says the measure wouldn’t do enough to help raise education levels in far eastern Kentucky. Stumbo rejected the report’s findings, saying the increased collaboration and creation of scholarships the report calls for isn’t enough.
The state House of Representatives has passed two-year and four-year financial plans for building Kentucky roads and bridges. The House passed three infrastructure bills this morning, 88-4. The bills are full of projects… from sidewalks to building interstate bridges across the Ohio River and widening other highways across the commonwealth. The plans have less opposition than the general fund budgets do, although they are still likely to be changed in the state Senate. Representative Sannie Overly says part of the reason is because there’s more money in the bank for infrastructure projects.
A bill that would alter the section of the state Constitution dealing with redistricting is moving through the state legislature. The Senate took up the measure today. The bill passed mostly on party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber, 27-11. Senate Bill 18 provides more guidance to lawmakers drawing new districts in split counties and gives preference to federal rules over previous state law.
The Kentucky House budget committee has approved the next two-year road plan for the commonwealth.The committee easily passed the plan and the Transportation Cabinet’s operating budget today. The road plan funds many of Governor Steve Beshear’s big initiatives, such as widening both Interstate 65 around Bowling Green and the Mountain Parkway. Bill sponsor Sannie Overly didn’t offer specific details about the committee’s changes to the measures, but says there are some.
The Kentucky House of Representatives has endorsed the creation of an adult abuse registry. The bill that would create that registry has been a priority of lawmakers for years, but funding hasn’t been there. But this year, Governor Steve Beshear allocated funds for the registry in the budget. Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo is the bill’s sponsor, and has supported the idea for the past several years. The measure would list anyone convicted of elder abuse on the new registry, which Palumbo says is key.
Lawmakers in both chambers have passed a bill aimed at reducing the cost of uncontested special legislative elections. Kentucky House lawmakers passed the measure weeks ago, while it passed the Senate today. The bill was proposed by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to help cut costs to her office and county clerks.
A bill designed to help pay federal interest payments is one step closer to becoming law. The measure passed the House unanimously today, although a few Republicans expressed concerns over the bill. The bill would let the state borrow money to help make federal interest payments on a loan Kentucky took out during the recession. The state borrowed more than $900 billion to help pay for unemployment insurance, but didn’t account for interest payments.
Kentucky’s House of Representatives cleared several big items off their agenda today. The full House passed a bill that changes how law enforcement implements synthetic drug laws. Another measure would create a child fatality review panel. The House also passed a compromise to House Bill 260, which originally would have made the University of Pikeville the ninth state university.
A proposal to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine-containing medicine is now up for discussion in the Kentucky House of Representatives. The cold medicine is a key ingredient in meth production, and lawmakers hope restricting PSE will reduce meth use in the commonwealth. Earlier this month, the Senate passed a compromise proposal. That bill limits consumers to seven point two grams of PSE-medicines over the counter each month. The House Judiciary Committee heard from supporters of that compromise measure today.
A bill that would allow slow-moving vehicles to use reflective tape instead of an orange triangle is moving through the House. The triangles have become an issue in Kentucky’s Amish community, where the symbol and loud color run counter to religious beliefs. Some Amish men have been arrested for refusing to use the triangles on their buggies. Both the House and the Senate passed separate bills addressing the issue. But the Senate proposal has fewer requirements, and the House decided to take up the Senate’s version.
A compromise to help employers avoid high federal unemployment insurance taxes has easily cleared a House committee. The proposal would allow Kentucky to borrow money from a bank or other organization to repay federal loans. Kentucky borrowed nearly one billion dollars from the federal government to pay for unemployment insurance during the recession. Up until now, the state had no plan on how to keep up with interest payments on that loan. If the state is late on payments, the federal government can put a higher tax on employers to recoup the funds.
A proposal for a Kentucky statewide smoking ban has cleared its first hurdle. The House Health and Welfare committee passed the bill today. The bill was expected to pass easily, but a few Republicans did vote against the measure because of concern for individual property rights.Lexington doctor Sylvia Cerel-Suhl supports the ban. She says it’s her right to go out in public and not be subjected to second-hand smoke.
Kentucky state senators will get their first budgetary reports in committee this week, which starts the final step in the budget process. The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee received a report today on the differences between the budget Governor Steve Beshear originally proposed and the changes the House made to that plan. Many senators didn’t raise questions about the changes in the meeting. But committee chairman Bob Leeper says that’s because the Senate is likely to include even more changes.
After being delayed twice, a House committee is prepared to finally vote on a bill that would establish a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky. The House Health and Welfare committee has been plagued by absences. Without a quorum, it could not vote on the smoking ban bill. But Chairman Tom Burch says he’ll get his members to a special meeting tomorrow morning, where he’ll have the votes to pass the bill.
A change in the way lawmakers draw redistricting lines is likely to end up in front of voters this fall. Senate Bill 18 would give legislators more direction in how to split counties during redistricting, as well as require them to follow federal law. It would throw decades of past state precedent out the window. The bill is partly a response to this year’s redistricting lawsuit, in which the state Supreme Court threw out new maps.
The legislative session is winding down, but budget negotiations are just beginning for Kentucky’s Senate. The House passed their version of budgets for all three branches of state government last week. But Senate Budget Chairman Bob Leeper says that doesn’t mean the Senate will be able to act quickly on the plan. Leeper says the Senate will compare three separate budgets: Governor Steve Beshear’s original proposal, the House’s changed plan and the last two-year budget. That means it could be some time before the Senate passes the budget.
Kentucky lawmakers and their staffs have raised more than twenty thousand dollars for disaster relief this week. Members of the Kentucky General Assembly had set a goal of ten thousand dollars to donate to the Red Cross in the wake of tornadoes that struck eastern and northern Kentucky last week. House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s office handled the donations. Today, Stumbo announced to his chamber they had surpassed their goal.
Supporters of legislation to restore voting rights to felons say the offenders have paid their debt to society and should have full suffrage granted automatically. House Bill 70 is a constitutional amendment that would allow for that restoration, which is currently banned. The House has already advanced the measure, but like in years past, the bill seems dead on arrival in the state Senate.
Kentucky lawmakers and their staffs have raised more than twenty thousand dollars for disaster relief this week. Members of the Kentucky General Assembly had set a goal of ten thousand dollars to donate to the Red Cross in the wake of tornadoes that struck eastern and northern Kentucky last week.
A bill aimed at strengthening prescription pill tracking to crack down on abuse has cleared the Kentucky House. The measure is one of the chief priorities of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, whose work on the issue dates back to his time as attorney general. House Bill 4 would move the KASPER pill tracking system to the attorney general’s office permanently, which is the key part of what Stumbo calls landmark legislation.
A new legislative proposal would set up a medical review panel in cases of malpractice or abuses in Kentucky nursing homes. The House Health and Welfare Committee heard the proposal, which advocates say would help cut down on frivolous malpractice lawsuits that are routinely filed against nursing homes.
A bill that would allow random drug testing of welfare recipients was the subject of legislative boycotts and hearings today. House Bill 26 is sponsored by Republican representative Lonnie Napier, who says the bill does not unfairly target anyone and would help rid drug abuse from those who benefit from government programs. The bill was never expected to come for a vote in committee, leading Napier’s fellow Republicans on the panel to boycott the meeting.
A move to amend the provisions of Kentucky’s constitution that deal with redistricting has been introduced in the state Senate. State Senator Robert Stivers’s bill would change the laws around redistricting, and give more direction for how medium-sized counties could be split.
One of the leaders of the Senate is hoping to change how Kentucky’s Attorney General is elected. Republican State Senator Katie Stine’s bill would make the office of Attorney General nonpartisan. Stine says because the Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer, the change should be a no-brainer.
Two year budgets for all three branches of state government have now passed one chamber of the Kentucky General Assembly. The House spent more than an hour debating the details of the executive, legislative and judicial budgets before easily passing all three. They also passed a bill creating a tax amnesty program that Governor Steve Beshear requested. The House did slightly change Beshear’s original executive budget. And lawmakers also cut the legislative and judicial budgets by eight point four percent.
One Republican senator is making his displeasure with Governor Steve Beshear’s tax commission known. Senator Jack Westwood has filed a bill for the second year in a row setting up a new commission to completely rewrite Kentucky’s tax code. Westwood says he filed the bill again because he’s unhappy with the make-up of the governor’s commission, which includes few economists and tax professionals
Budget plans for all three branches of Kentucky’s government are on their way to the House floor after easily passing out of the House budget committee today. The committee passed bills that would cut the judicial and legislative budgets by eight point four percent, to match the cuts already made to the executive budget. It also adopted the changes to Governor Steve Beshear’s budget proposed yesterday.
A bill creating a new scholarship fund from coal severance tax monies has cleared a House committee this morning. The scholarships have evolved from an original proposal that would have added the University of Pikeville into the state university system.
A proposal that limits the amount of pseudoephedrine consumers can buy in a month could make it out the state House of Representatives intact. The Senate passed a bill last week that would limit consumers to seven point two grams of pseudoephedrine every month, or roughly two boxes of cold medicine.
A bill creating a new scholarship fund from coal severance tax monies has cleared a House committee Tuesday morning. The scholarships have evolved from an original proposal that would have added the University of Pikeville into the state university system. But the UPIKE proposal didn’t have the votes to pass, so lawmakers settled on a compromise.