FRANKFORT — A proposal to allow six of Kentucky's public universities to start more than $360 million in infrastructure projects overwhelming passed the House today, 97-1. House Bill 7 allows the universities to issue their own agency bonds to build new dorms, academic buildings and other improvements, including a stadium renovation at the University of Kentucky. House budget chairman Rick Rand, a Democrat from Bedford, is the sponsor of the bill and told his colleagues that no state money would be used for the projects.
Groups supporting a bill creating medical panels to review allegations of nursing home abuse are taking their cause to the airwaves. The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities this week released a 60 second television radio ad, urging people to support Senate Bill 9.
FRANKFORT — Advocates for Kentucky children on Thursday called for state leaders to provide funds and stave off recently announced cuts to programs that provide assistance for child care costs and to family members who take in young relatives. The calls were made Thursday at the ninth annual Children Advocacy Day rally, which organizers estimated more than 1,000 people joined. Because of the crowd's size, the rally was moved from the Capitol Rotunda to outside.
Hoping to reduce gun violence in Kentucky, a group of Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill that would allow Kentucky State Police to set regulations banning certain firearms or high-capacity magazines. The bill, which state Sen. Kathy Stein plans to file in the Senate on Thursday, would also allow cities and colleges to regulate guns and would require private background checks for every gun sale in Kentucky.
Gov. Steve Beshear is encouraging lawmakers to take bold stances in reforming the state's tax code, before past budget decisions and cuts and cripple Kentucky. Beshear made the pleas Wednesday night in his annual State of the Commonwealth address. The speech focused on the state's lack of revenue—and how reforming the tax code would allow enough new money to solve the state's pension problems, plus increase funding for education. The idea, Beshear said, was for lawmakers to be forward-thinking in their decisions this year.
An effort to reform Kentucky's underfunded pension systems passed in its first hearing Wednesday from a state Senate committee meeting. Senate Bill 2 stems from the recommendations of a legislative task force that met over the summer to try and solve the pension problems. It includes a suspension of cost of living adjustments and creates a new hybrid plan that acts like a 401K with a promised rate of return.
A bill authorizing bonding projects for most of Kentucky's public universities appears to have ample support to be approved this week in the state House. House Bill 7 authorizes more than $300 million in projects, including renovations for dorm rooms, academic buildings and football stadium renovations at the University of Kentucky. The bill unanimously passed the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning, without a single lawmaker even questioning the bill.
Kentucky lawmakers seemed eager to dig into another tax reform bill this year, but the chair of the latest tax reform commission says reform isn't likely coming soon. Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson,who chaired the commission and Mary Lassiter, the secretary of the cabinet, addressed lawmakers on the budget committees about the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. Many lawmakers were eager to see a bill filed, even if tax reform is unlikely in this year's regular session. But Lassiter and Abramson implied that one was not likely anytime soon.
Efforts to reform the laws concerning more than 1,000 special taxing districts are quickly moving in Frankfort this week. The reforms were filed as House Bill 1 today and compromise a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It would create an online registry to list the special districts and their required financial paperwork.
Advocates for more wireless and broadband options in Kentucky will once again push a bill reforming the state's telecommunications laws—specifically, removing language that requires old-school land-line service throughout the state.
Kentucky Senate Republicans are rallying around a bill to allow a Christian health-sharing organization to continue operating in Kentucky. Christian Care Medi-share collects dues from members, then uses those funds to pay other members' health bills. Last year, the Department of Insurance successfully argued in court that Medi-share should be regulated like other insurance companies.
Support is clearly growing behind Agriculture Commissioner James Comer's efforts for industrial hemp in Kentucky are growing. Call it hempmentum. With last week's endorsement from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Comer now has the majority of Kentucky's federal delegation behind him.
Another downgrading in Kentucky’s financial outlook has the state’s business leaders calling on the General Assembly for immediate pension reforms. Standard and Poor’s has downgraded Kentucky’s outlook to negative, citing the state's large unfunded pension obligations as the main reason.
After a year of budget cuts to Kentucky's court system, Chief Justice John Minton said furloughs won't happen in the next year, but he is asking lawmakers to find more money for the state’s judicial branch. Kentucky's judicial branch will face more cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, though, Minton said in his annual address to the interim judicial committee.
A recently released poll shows that a majority of Kentuckians favor the expansion of gambling in the state. Sixty percent of Kentuckians said they support expansion when asked a broad yes or no question about it, The Courier-Journal’s Bluegrass Poll said.
A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a big gap between Kentucky’s income levels on who pays taxes. The report says Kentucky’s top 1 percent income bracket pays roughly 5 percent of the state’s income, while the bottom 20 percent pays 9 percent.
With the news that more than a dozen tea party groups are actively recruiting a GOP candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, it’s worth taking a look at how Kentucky tea party-endorsed candidates have fared in statewide or Congressional races. Since forming in the run up to the 2010 mid-term elections, Kentucky's tea party has won more than a third of the races its challenged for prominent offices, and its candidates have won several primaries over Republican establishment candidates.
Despite rising tuition costs, higher education is still worthwhile because college-degree holders have higher incomes and better opportunities for employment, according to a report released Friday by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Employers are increasingly requiring bachelor’s degrees as part of their hiring processes, the report said. In the next eight years, the report says, more than half of Kentucky jobs will require some sort of higher education.