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.
Gov. Steve Beshear says he'll make a decision about Medicaid expansion in Kentucky by early next year. While many states are still deciding on the early elements of the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- Kentucky has only one decision left: whether to opt in to Medicaid expansion. Under the health care law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of costs for three years if states expand their Medicaid rolls to 138 percent of the poverty line.
In the wake of last week's shooting death of 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is joining a chorus of public officials who say a national debate on gun control and mental health is needed.
Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat representing the Third District, will serve on next year’s House Budget Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee. In a statement, Yarmuth says the committee assignments will allow him to continue working on middle class issues that reflect fairness and shared responsibility.
The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut have rekindled the gun control debate in Washington. While many gun owners worried President Obama would push gun-control measures in his first term, the only two gun bills he signed allowed people to carry concealed weapons on federal lands and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. But now he's set up a task force on gun-violence and wants to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban. Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield says more questions must be answered before Congress does anything.
In reaction to President Obama launching a task force to address gun violence, Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth is praising the effort to tackle the issue in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. The president pledged at a press conference Wednesday that the group—led by Vice President Joe Biden—will work swiftly to present recommendations for Congress to act on. It is the most forceful push by the administration to tackle gun control, and supporters say they are eager to see specific proposals.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to explore the possibility of early voting in the commonwealth. Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia permit a version of early voting that allows residents to cast their ballot prior to Election Day without an excuse.
On this week's edition of Kentucky Tonight, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss public employee pensions. The program that aired "live" on KET Monday night will be re-broadcast Tuesday morning at 11:00 on the WEKU Stations.
Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says lawmakers need to get behind comprehensive gun control in the aftermath of a elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Last Friday, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School with an assault rifle and two semi-automatic pistols, killing 20 children and six adults. The shooting has sparked a national debate about the Second Amendment, and gun control groups have been pushing for stricter laws.
Before he joins the call for legalized industrial hemp, Gov. Steve Beshear wants law enforcement officials to resolve their concerns about the issue. The issue: Some Kentucky officials believe legalized industrial hemp would be good for Kentucky's economy, but law enforcement officials are concerned that such a move would conflict with efforts to crack down on marijuana growers.
Kentucky Sixth District Congressman-elect Andy Barr announced his committee assignments Thursday. Barr will be a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, which is led by fellow Republican Spencer Baucus. The financial services panel is considered a "top-tier," committee that dealt directly with the bank bailouts and crafted the controversial Dodd-Frank Act.
Unlike the state legislature, Lexington council members are serving in relatively newly aligned districts. Redistricting at the local level was accomplished in late 2011. State lawmakers still haven’t reached an agreement. Their first attempt was ruled unconstitutional. Members of Lexington’s Council have put the process into law. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton orchestrated the move to formalize the process. “We have never had an ordinance, ever that guided our redistricting so this is like a big new first,” said Gorton.