Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are once again trying to persuade a House committee to pass the the legislation this session. The House Judiciary Committee is the second committee—after House Health and Welfare—to hear the smoking ban bill sponsored by State Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat.
As the 2013 legislative session winds down, the top priorities for each chamber are still stuck in the process and not yet law. House Bill 1 would reform special districts in Kentucky and centralize financing reporting aspects for the districts. The legislation is supported by Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat. But the legislation is likely to undergo changes that Edelen has yet to support, including giving more oversight of the districts to local governments.
FRANKFORT — Arguments over how to reform and pay for Kentucky's underfunded pension systems have devolved into legislative chaos. Both the Kentucky House and the Senate are refusing bills addressing pensions, citing legal or procedural reasons. And leading legislators are blaming each other.
A House bill aiming to help generate revenues for the underfunded pension system is in legal limbo as the Senate refused to accept the bill. House Bill 416 takes revenues from expansion of Instant Racing and online lottery sales and the start of a Keno game to generate close to $100 million a year to pay into state's currently underfunded pensions for state employees.
FRANKFORT — More than 100 senior citizens and advocates rallied Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in support of several bills before the Kentucky General Assembly—and against one bill in particular. They urged Kentucky lawmakers to oppose legislation that creates a panel to review lawsuits against nursing homes and requires those filing suits to pay fees to submit their case to the panel, said Cathy Murphy, associate state director for the AARP.
After dismissing the idea last fall, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is warming to the idea of actress Ashley Judd running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Judd has begun reaching out to Kentucky Democratic leaders; Stumbo said on Thursday that he'll tell Judd that, should she enter, the race is winnable. "Ashley Judd, if she chooses to get into this race, will be a formidable candidate by the time the race is over I'm convinced of that," Stumbo said.
FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House Agriculture Committee chairman blocked a vote on the hemp bill on Wednesday morning after a tense exchange with a Republican supporter of the legislation. The hemp bill would create a regulatory framework in Kentucky, should the federal government legalize it. Rep. Tom McKee, the ag committee chairman and a Cynthiana Democrat, wanted to amend the bill to turn it into a study, which the bill's supporters oppose.
State Auditor Adam Edelen is encouraging Senate lawmakers not to tweak the special district taxing district reform bill, which is largely based on his proposals from a report last year. The Senate State and Local Government committee discussed the bill for more than an hour, but did not vote on House Bill 1 because Sen. Damon Thayer says he's attempting to amend the bill. Thayer's main concerns are giving control of a new registry of special districts to the Department of Local Government and that local elected officials often don't have control of a special district.
The liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky is moving forward with a planned fundraiser despite a national backlash over controversial attacks on the ethnicity of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's wife. However, many Democratic lawmakers who were once behind the group are either pulling their support or questioning if they will continue to back them.
Ashley Judd has begun reaching out to Kentucky House Democratic leaders as she continues to explore a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Judd has called House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark asking for a meeting, Clark said. She also called and left a message on House Speaker Greg Stumbo's cell phone—but asked to speak with House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins. Stumbo said he's returned the call but hasn't heard back.
The state pension system would not transition to a hybrid 401K-style plan in an amended version of the pension reform bill. The amended bill also only allows plans to set up a new 11-person committee to provide direct oversight over the pension systems. And cost of living adjustments are no longer banned under the bill, but can only be allowed if there is a surplus in the retirement systems or if lawmakers prepay for the expense.
A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife. For months, the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home. Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.
A bill addressing problems with last year's prescription pill mill bill has cleared the House Judiciary Committee. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the bill, which reduces some tough regulations that followed the pill mill bill. The legislation, House Bill 217, requires hospitals and long term care facilities to still pull KASPER reports, but lessens other regulations on them
A bill moving Medicaid late payment claims to the Department of Insurance appears to have some support in the state Senate. House Bill 5 would take prompt pay issues with the Medicaid managed care system and put it through the Insurance Department's current claims process. Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services deal with late claims.
House Democratic leaders will likely propose adding a 6 percent sales tax on Kentucky Lottery ticket sales and expanding available lottery games to fund future pension contributions. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said the lottery sales tax would generate $49 million annually, and new lottery games could bring in between $60 million and $90 million over time.
By John Faherty & Dave Malaska & The Kentucky Enquirer
Organizers estimate that more than 1,000 people turned out Saturday afternoon for one of Kentucky’s two Day of Resistance gatherings. The crowd cheered keynote speaker Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Garrison, and other speakers who railed against federal efforts at mandated gun registration and “gun-free” school zones. The Florence rally was one of more than 100 scheduled accross the country, according to organizers.
FRANKFORT – Eleven major construction projects at six state universities, including dormitory renovations, new student centers, and athletic facility improvements will soon be underway thanks to the quick passage of a bill that allows the schools to issue bonds for project financing – all at no cost to Kentucky taxpayers.
Ashley Judd—the actress and potential Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate—will meet soon to with Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss the 2014 election, Beshear said on Thursday. Judd has been meeting with potential donors and supporters in the past several weeks, including some in Louisville, the Hill reports.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo's bill that would transfer late payments claims in Medicaid managed care has cleared its first committee. The legislation moves dealing with late payment issues between health care providers and managed care organizations to the Department of Insurance's third party system. Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services deals with those issues—but how those issues are dealt with has become a major issue in Kentucky's managed care system.
Kentucky military personnel could get their election ballots electronically—but the ballots would have to be printed and returned to county clerks via snail mail, under changes made to a bill Thursday in a state Senate committee meeting.
FRANKFORT — Seeking the passage of three pieces of legislation protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, more than 200 people rallied on Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda with Kentucky's Fairness Campaign.
Credit Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons and foxnews.com
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul isn’t sure if Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin would pose a problem for Mitch McConnell in a primary election. The wealthy investor acknowledged an interest in taking on McConnell and has been in discussion with Tea Party groups. A Bevin spokeswoman said several individuals have voiced "frustration with their current representation" in Washington.
A bill allowing most of Kentucky's public universities to start more than $360 million in bonding projects has officially cleared both legislative chambers. The Senate passed the bill 36-1 today, with Sen. John Schickel, a Union Republican, as the lone dissenting vote.
Kentucky's governor and other statewide constitutional officers would be elected in the same year as presidential elections under a bill approved Wednesday in a state Senate committee. Without a change, statewide constitutional officers—including the secretary of state, state auditor and others—would be next up for election in 2015.
Just as the deadline for filing new bills was to expire, a bill to amend the Kentucky constitution to allow for casino gambling was introduced Tuesday afternoon in the state House. The bill would require the Kentucky General Assembly to allow and create regulation for casino gambling at no more than seven locations. The revenue, the bill says, would be used "job creation, education, human services, health care, veterans programs, local governments, public safety, and the support of the horse industry; create the Equine Excellence fund of dedication funds from gambling."
Speaking with reporters in Frankfort Tuesday, Gov. Steve Beshear said he's pushing to put the hemp legalization issue on hold until law enforcement's concerns can be addressed. According to WTVQ-TV, Beshear has concerns similar to those of Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, who's said the state should listen to the concerns of police officers since hemp leaves look like marijuana leaves.
In the first ad of the 2014 Kentucky Senate race, Republican Mitch McConnell pokes fun at Democrats for being unable to find an opponent for the general election. The online spot utilizes clips of President Obama, and shows him looking at a number of rumored challengers including actress Ashley Judd, former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.