Kenny Colston, KPR-Frankfort

KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief

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1:45pm

Wed February 22, 2012
All Politics are Local

Diploma for Special Needs Students Nears Passage

A bill creating an alternative diploma for special needs students is one vote away from becoming law. Senate Bill 43 would apply different core standards to qualified students who would then earn the alternative diploma. Currently, special needs students in Kentucky receive only a certificate when they graduate. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Dennis Parrett, says he’s only trying to fix what he views as a problem.

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8:27am

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Compromise Drop Out Bill Heads to House Floor

The chairman of the House Education Committee says his modifications to a dropout bill will help broker a compromise between the House and the Senate. Both chambers recently passed legislation effectively raising Kentucky’s high school dropout age, but there are key differences between the bills.  Currently, students can’t drop out of high school on their own until they’re 18 years old. But with parental consent, they can drop out at age 16.

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8:25am

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Expanded Gambling Vote Pending

Pastors and concerned citizens in Kentucky are taking their fight against expanded gambling directly to the Capitol. Led by the Reverend Hershel York, opponents of Governor Steve Beshear’s gambling amendment flooded Frankfort today in protest.  They filled hallways and lobbied legislators to vote no on the amendment, then gathered in the Rotunda for a larger rally.

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3:00am

Tue February 21, 2012
State Capitol

UPike Gets Its Day in Court (of Public Opinion)

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the plan to make the University of Pikeville the ninth state university will not be derailed by the hectic session.Stumbo is the main legislative supporter of the measure. And he says despite redistricting, expanded gambling legislation and other barriers or distractions, his bill will continue moving forward. The latest step is a hearing today in the House Education Committee.

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12:01am

Tue February 21, 2012
State Capitol

Compromise on "Amish Buggies" Near

A bill allowing Amish buggy drivers in Kentucky to use reflective tape instead of a state-mandated orange triangle is only a few steps away from becoming law. The state Senate passed a bill addressing the issue weeks ago. And a House committee passed its own version last week. There are a few differences in each chamber’s bill. The House wants 200 inches of white, two-inch-wide tape on the back of each buggy. The Senate version mandates 100 inches of red or white one-inch-wide tape.

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5:26pm

Mon February 20, 2012
All Politics are Local

Medicaid Fraud Bill Introduced Again

A bill that would allow Kentucky to collect money from Medicaid fraud busts has again been introduced in Frankfort. House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed the bill, which would also protect and possibly reward whistle blowers who report fraud in Medicaid or any other areas of state government. Stumbo says the bill is needed to help Kentucky get money that usually ends up in federal coffers.

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5:00am

Mon February 20, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Fraud Doesn't Pay, Yet

A bill that would allow Kentucky to collect money from Medicaid fraud busts has again been introduced in Frankfort. House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed the bill, which would also protect and possibly reward whistle blowers who report fraud in Medicaid or any other areas of state government. Stumbo says the bill is needed to help Kentucky get money that usually ends up in federal coffers.

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3:00am

Mon February 20, 2012
State Capitol

Secondhand Smoke Plagues Mrs. Kentucky

Advocates for a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are getting some high profile help. Mrs. Kentucky USA is lending her support to the measure this week. Kathy Polston-Dalton was born with a heart disease that flares up when she’s around secondhand smoke. She says a statewide smoking ban would alleviate problems she and others have with the disease.

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3:26pm

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

New Motions Filed in Redistricting Suit

Kentucky lawmakers who successfully sued to keep new district maps from taking effect have filed new motions with the state Supreme Court. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled two weeks ago that the maps of new House and Senate districts were unconstitutional because they weren’t in line with population variance numbers previously set by the Supreme Court. The Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the case.

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11:26am

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

Support for Restrictions on Constables Grows

A Senate bill that would give county governments more control over constables could have enough support to become law. Originally, both chambers pursued constitutional amendments to eliminate the office of constable altogether, spurred by several recent instances of constables abusing their power. But an agreement not to crowd the fall ballot with constitutional amendments led to the Senate proposal.

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6:12am

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

Drop Out Bill Passes in House

A bill to raise Kentucky’s high school dropout age is making progress in Frankfort, but the state House and Senate may not be able to come to an agreement on the issue. The House passed it’s version of the dropout bill Thursday. It would remove loopholes that allow parents to let their children drop out of school before age 18.

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4:05pm

Thu February 16, 2012
All Politics are Local

Tax Incentives Could Mean Job Creation

A Louisville lawmaker is looking to enhance job creation in Kentucky’s auto industry by amending a law that’s already on the books. House Speaker Pro Temp Larry Clark has filed House Bill 400 to update the 2007 Kentucky Jobs Retention Act, which helped bring 3,000 jobs to Ford plants in Louisville. This year’s bill would retract requirements that incentives only go to facilities in Louisville or Lexington. That would let Kentucky’s other two carmakers take advantage of the program.

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2:59pm

Thu February 16, 2012
All Politics are Local

PSE Bill Narrowly Clears Committee

A bill that would make pseudoephedrine available only by prescription in Kentucky has cleared its first legislative hurdle. PSE is commonly found in cold medicines and is also used to make meth. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard another hour of testimony on the issue from law enforcement officers and former meth addicts today before passing the bill out of committee.

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3:26pm

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Embattled Constables Survive Another Day

Kentucky lawmakers are backing away from a measure that would eliminate the office of constable in every county. Every county has an elected constable. But in the last year, many constables have been accused of being either unnecessary or corrupt.  Originally, Senate Bill 30 was a constitutional amendment to eliminate constables. But the bill was unlikely to pass due to a gentlemen’s agreement in the legislature that each chamber would only push one amendment each session.

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3:24pm

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Managers Claim Bugs Nearly Fixed

Officials with Kentucky's Medicaid managed care organizations say they're on track to resolve any problems with reimbursements to doctors and pharmacists.  CoventryCares, WellCare and Kentucky Spirit began administering Medicaid statewide last fall, and they're off to a rocky start. Executives with the three organizations are in Frankfort this week for a series of committee hearings. Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers spent previous weeks telling lawmakers horror stories about working with the MCOs. One such story included a pre-authorization to deliver a baby that didn't come through until weeks after the child was born.

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5:30am

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Senate President's Take on Tax Reform

Kentucky Senate President David Williams has several criticisms for Governor Steve Beshear's recently-appointed tax commission.  Williams proposed creating such a commission during his bid for governor last year. But says Beshear’s commission lacks the guidance and experience to change Kentucky’s tax code. The Senate President says the majority of the commission is made up of Beshear’s friends and political allies.

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3:22pm

Tue February 14, 2012
All Politics are Local

Gambling Amendment Raises Questions

Changes could already be coming to Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed gambling amendment. The amendment would allow up to seven casinos in Kentucky, with five of them based at horse racing tracks. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports expanded gaming in Kentucky, but he still has major questions about the amendment. And Stumbo says those questions will likely lead to changes to the measure if it can pass the state Senate.

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2:13pm

Tue February 14, 2012
All Politics are Local

Gambling Amendment Unveiled

After weeks of waiting, Governor Steve Beshear and state Senator Damon Thayer have unveiled their constitutional amendment for expanded gambling. The amendment allows for up to seven casinos in Kentucky, but five must be at horse racing tracks. The two free-standing casinos cannot be within sixty miles of a track, regardless of whether that track has a casino.

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2:10pm

Tue February 14, 2012
All Politics are Local

Charter School Bill Gets First Hearing

After several years, a bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky has received a hearing in a House committee. Advocates for and against the measure spent this morning debating the merits of the education reform in the capitol. Charter school administrators from other states joined Rep. Brad Montell, the bill’s sponsor, and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Dave Adkission in support of the bill.

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10:00am

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

"First Audit" Uncovers Military, Horse Park Waste

The first statewide audit from new Auditor Adam Edelen has uncovered some familiar problems. Edelen is required to conduct an audit of all state agencies every year. His first report was released this morning. In it, Edelen takes many state agencies to task. That includes the Department of Military Affairs and the Kentucky Horse Park, which the report says incurred expensive and unnecessary fees for paying invoices too late.

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6:59am

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Manage Care Hearing

Kentucky's Medicaid Managed Care Organizations say they have fixed a number of issues with reimbursements to pharmacists.  CoventryCares, WellCare and Kentucky Spirit took over management of the state's Medicaid system last year. Since then, doctors and pharmacists have come forward to say the organizations are poorly managed and the reimbursements for care are too low. Executives from the organizations told a legislative committee Monday that the early kinks have been worked out of the system. But there were pharmacists in attendance who disagreed.

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9:45am

Mon February 13, 2012
Health and Welfare

Managed Care Firms Struggle, Lose Some Providers

Since taking over a portion of Kentucky’s Medicaid system, Managed Care Organization (MCO) Kentucky Spirit Health Plan has lost nearly 70,000 members while some healthcare professionals are questioning whether the three new private operators can handle the state’s Medicaid program.

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6:24am

Mon February 13, 2012
State Capitol

State's High Court Could Decide Redistricting

The battle over new state legislative districts may move to the Kentucky Supreme Court this week. At the direction of General Assembly leaders, the Legislative Research Commission this week will file an appeal to overturn an injunction against the district maps lawmakers approved last month. In it’s filing, the LRC will also argue that the new districts should be in effect for this year's elections.

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11:41am

Fri February 10, 2012
All Politics are Local

Congressional District Boundaries Compromise Reached

After weeks of disagreement, new districts for Kentucky's six U.S. House seats will become law. The issue appeared dead earlier this week when the state Senate was unable to approve a new map. But lawmakers rallied around a compromise plan last night. Under the new plan, the Second District will lose some of its northern counties and stretch further east. And the Sixth District around Lexington will become safe for Congressman Ben Chandler as it sheds Republican counties.

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11:26am

Fri February 10, 2012
Health and Welfare

Beshear Confident in Medicaid Managed Care

Governor Steve Beshear says the problems with Kentucky’s new Medicaid Managed Care system will be resolved. Beshear pushed for the managed care system last year to take some of the administrative burden of Medicaid off of the state. But earlier this week, doctors, pharmacists and hospital officials told lawmakers there were significant problems with the system. Specifically, care providers are owed millions of dollars in claim payments and have struggled to get pre-authorizations for procedures and medications.

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4:05pm

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Pro-Gambling Coalition Forms

A newly-formed coalition of businesses, unions and education groups have teamed up to get a constitutional amendment for gambling on the ballot in Kentucky. The group is called the Kentucky Alliance for Jobs. It's a 501(c)(4), meaning it can raise money and advertise to support casino gaming.

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3:01pm

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Group Performs Coal Skit in Frankfort

Members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth are preparing for next week's I Love Mountains Day rally in Frankfort. Several members performed a skit in the Capitol Rotunda today depicting fake legislators and coal operators trading cash while the sick and needy looked on. KFTC member Chris Schimmoeller says the point of the skit was to show the cozy relationship coal companies have with lawmakers.

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7:15am

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Congressional Redistricting a 'No Go'

Efforts to redraw Kentucky's U.S. House districts are dead in the General Assembly.  State House Speaker Greg Stumbo made that declaration after the state Senate could not agree to the latest compromise on district maps. “I think that ship has sailed, that bell’s rung," Stumbo said. "I think the Secretary of State will have to certify those folks as the candidates and so the current status of law is that in my opinion they would run in the current Congressional district.”

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6:13am

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Appeal of Court Ruling on Redistricting Likely

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says an appeal is likely in the ongoing court battle over redistricting. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd declared new district maps unconstitutional Tuesday. Stumbo says he'd like to take the ruling to the state Supreme Court.  The only question is whether the Legislative Research Commission or House leadership will file the appeal.

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4:54am

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Senate Passes Dropout Bill

A proposal to raise Kentucky’s dropout age to 18 years old has passed a major hurdle.  The state Senate approved a bill today that allows individual school districts to decide whether to raise the dropout age and requires participating schools to have alternative education programs. The bill passed overwhelming, 35-2, with two Democratic senators voting against because of the local option.

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