FRANKFORT — Current Kentucky state employees and retirees packed the Capitol Rotunda to encourage lawmakers to rethink some proposals made by a task force on public pensions last year. Calling themselves the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition, the group of more than a dozen interested organizations encouraged their members to tell lawmakers not to switch to a hybrid pension plan for new hires and to reinstate cost of living adjustments every year.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in public places are set to try their luck in passing such a law for the third legislative session. Smoke Free Kentucky has started an advertising campaign to raise support for the smoking ban and a recent poll showed a majority of Kentucky support such a ban.
Gov. Steve Beshear and top legislative leaders are expected to announce their support Thursday morning for new academic buildings at the University of Kentucky and a $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium. The projects are among several that state universities have asked Beshear and lawmakers to approve, with the stipulation that they can be paid for with money from universities rather than state General Fund.
Senate Health and Welfare Chair Julie Denton, R-Louisville, filed two bills Wednesday to block Gov. Steve Beshear from expanding Medicaid coverage and setting up a health-insurance exchange without legislative approval. The expansion of Medicaid and the exchange, which would provide online information about buying insurance from private companies, are key parts of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The health package has come under sharp criticism from many Republicans.
Gov. Steve Beshear is urging legislative leaders to delay General Assembly redistricting. In a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers, the governor says he’d like them to hold off redistricting in the 2013 legislative session and instead take up other important issues, such as pension and tax reforms.
For America is attacking McConnell in a new online ad.
A conservative group is attacking Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over the fiscal cliff deal in a series of online advertisements in Kentucky that questions his loyalty to the GOP. The ads were purchased by the Virginia-based group For America and began running Wednesday on the The Daily Caller, Drudge Report and Fox News websites, as well as on Facebook. It accuses McConnell of capitulating to President Obama and calls for conservatives to stand up to the party leader.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official, has announced a special election will be held on Feb. 12 to fill the vacancy in the office of state representative, 52nd Representative District. The 52nd District is comprised of McCreary and Wayne counties and part of Pulaski County.
Kentucky legislative leaders say solutions on how to pay for Kentucky’s underfunded pensions won’t likely be addressed in the 2013 legislative session, which began Tuesday. Both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers say there will likely be a bill to introduce changes to the pension systems. But they also agree that such a bill is unlikely to deal how to fund the changes.
State Rep. Sannie Overly will be the first woman in history elected to a leadership position in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Overly, of Paris, on Tuesday was elected House Democratic Caucus Chair in private leadership elections today. Overly beat state Rep. Bob Damron, of Nicholasville, for the position; all other House Democratic leaders retained their posts.
FRANKFORT—As the 2013 Kentucky legislative session begins, Tea Party activists are encouraging lawmakers to abandon the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in the state because of fiscal and health care concerns.
The United States Supreme Court will tackle the question of whether or not police must obtain a search warrant prior to conducting blood tests in drunk driving arrests. The case Missouri v McNeely springs from a drunk driving arrest in Cape Girardeau in 2010, and the Court’s decision must weigh the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure against efforts to stop drunk driving. Justice will hear arguments on Wednesday.
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division on patrol in Iraq in 2006.
Credit U.S. Army/Public Domain
Giving Kentucky service members and their spouses the ability to cast absentee ballots electronically is the priority of the Kentucky State Senate heading into the 2013 legislative session, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers said on Monday.
With the departure last week of U. S. Representative Ben Chandler, Kentucky’s Republicans control all but one seat in the U. S. Congress. Chandler has been replaced in House of Representatives by Tea Party favorite Andy Barr. The last two months have been a strange time for outgoing lawmakers. Chandler lost in early November but had to remain in Washington, to cast votes and pack up nearly a decade’s worth of memories. It provided Chandler time to think about his legacy.
Retooling Kentucky’s tax code and reining in multibillion-dollar unfunded liabilities in the state pension systems should be top priorities for the General Assembly when it convenes for an abbreviated session Tuesday, legislators say. Those matters may require a special session given the brevity of odd-year, 30-day sessions, but challenging decisions are ahead, they told The State Journal.
Kentucky legislators are still seeking a new state liquor law, a leading lawmaker says. If they don't, a bottle of bourbon may be as close as the corner gas station. Last year, a federal judge threw out Kentucky laws that don’t allow groceries and gas stations to sell wine or hard spirits, saying it was unfair. Kentucky pharmacies — which often sell grocery items — can sell the hard stuff.
Kentucky Fourth District Congressman Thomas Massie introduced his first bill in Congress on Friday that would repeal the federal ban on guns in school zones. The measure is dubbed the Citizens Protection Act of 2013, which was initially proposed by former Congressman Ron Paul six years ago. It would repeal the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 and comes in the midst of the gun control debate sparked by the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Connecticut.
By Carla Jimenez & Kentucky New Era & Carla Jimenez
Despite Kentucky’s high rankings in economic growth the past year, the current tax code has not brought in enough revenue to cover the state’s expenditures. Last February, Gov. Steve Beshear announced the creation of his Blue Ribbon Tax Commission, charged with examining the state’s tax code and recommending ways to reform it. In December, the commission released a 435-page report with 54 approved recommendations in it. Beshear and other lawmakers have said they want to begin implementing the recommendations in the 2013 legislative session.
The fight over the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky will continue in the new year, Tea Party activists say. When Kentucky lawmakers return to start the 2013 legislative session tomorrow (Tuesday), they will be greeted with a rally opposing the health care law.
The Speaker of the Kentucky House says it’s a no-brainer for Kentucky to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Under the health care law, states can expanded their Medicaid rolls to 138 percent of the poverty line and for three years, the federal government will pay for the expansion.
Kentucky Tea Party leaders are voicing frustration with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over his role in forging a bill that averted the fiscal cliff, and are encouraging a primary challenge in his re-election bid. In the final days of negotiations, McConnell worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden to fashion an agreement that passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support. The Biden-McConnell bill extended the Bush-era tax cuts permanently for individuals making less than $400,000, but it delayed government spending cuts for another two months.
A Kentucky legislative leader says progress on reforming the state’s liquor laws is slow going. Last year, a federal judge threw out the state law that blocks grocery stores and gas stations from selling wine and spirits. That same judge later stayed his ruling to prevent a sudden surge in liquor retailers and to allow Kentucky lawmakers to re-write the regulations.
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it will mean more than the beginning of 20-13. It will also mark the end for four members leaving Lexington’s Council. Council members Jay McChord, K.C. Crosby, Doug Martin, and Tom Blues have all made their mark on the Lexington-Fayette governing body. Two are moving out of politics while two are keeping a hat ready to possibly toss back in the ring.
By Russ Cassady & Appalachian News Express & Russ Cassady
Officials throughout the region this week were hailing the decision of the oft-vilified Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to step down following a four-year term fraught with controversy, particularly in the Central Appalachia coal mining regions. Jackson announced her decision in a statement on Thursday, saying she will step down after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address next month.
Credit Credit Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Gov. Steve Beshear will likely have to re-issue his executive order to keep the state’s health exchange running. Beshear started the exchange — part of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare — earlier this year through an executive order and state health officials have forged ahead with its creation.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is joining calls for a nation debate about gun issues in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings, and also said that violent video games are a cause of such violence. Stumbo says he’s a lifelong National Rifle Association member and an avid outdoorsman — and he has helped many NRA-friendly bills pass in Kentucky. But he’s joining other rural Democrats in their call for a discussion on gun control.
A year ago, there were surely many central Kentuckians unaware there even existed a school known as the University of Pikeville. The small eastern Kentucky school officially changed its name from Pikeville College in 2011. It was known as a rival to Georgetown College, particularly on the basketball court. Then, in 2012 UPike became a bone of contention across the state when a bill was filed in the Kentucky House of Representatives to bring the institution into the state public university system.
Three of the chief opponents to raising the dropout age in Kentucky will not return to Frankfort next year. That doesn't mean a dropout bill is likely to pass in the 2013 legislative session. State law allows 16-year-olds to drop out of school with parental permission. But education advocates want the law changed to eliminate all loopholes and require dropouts to be 18 or older.
The Kentucky House speaker doesn't expect the General Assembly to take drastic action in the 2013 legislative session. That doesn't mean lawmakers won't have much to discuss when they return to Frankfort on Jan. 8. Pension reform and tax reform are up for discussion.
Gov. Steve Beshear is blending a mix of old and new when it comes to his legislative priorities in 2013. With the 2013 session’s first days only weeks away, Beshear is ready to push some old initiatives while helping lawmakers solve pressing issues like pensions.