A bill reforming how the state's special districts are categorized and making them more transparent easily passed the state House this morning, 96-1. State Rep. Lynn Belcher, a Republican from Crittenden County, was the lone "no" vote. Many local library boards, sewer districts and fire districts are considered special taxing districts separate from other types of government.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has filed a bill to move complaints about late payments in Kentucky's Medicaid system from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to the Department of Insurance. Health care providers—such as hospitals and doctor's offices— have complained about severely late payments since the managed care system started. Currently, the cabinet deals those issues that arise when one of the state's Medicaid operating companies delays payment to a health provider.
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.
A pension reform bill that would move new state employees to a 401(k)-style hybrid plan and eliminate annual cost-of-living increases for retirees cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday. The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted unanimously — 10-0 — on Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 2. The measure now goes to the full Senate.
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.
Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville has reintroduced a bill that would put a moratorium on mountaintop removal coal mining until the practice’s health effects can be better understood. The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act—or ACHE—was first introduced last summer, but died when it was referred to committee. Now, Yarmuth and New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter are reintroducing the legislation.
Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday a constitutional amendment to expand gambling is hung up on opposition from some racetracks and might not be filed this legislative session. Beshear said that although horse breeders and owners support a plain up-or-down vote on expanding gambling, racetracks including Keeneland, The Red Mile and Kentucky Downs oppose a bill that does not guarantee racetracks a monopoly on casinos.
The Super PAC American Crossroads has released a stinging ad targeting actress-activist Ashley Judd, who is considering a bid against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The digital spot portrays Judd as an out-of-touch Hollywood liberal and criticizes her for being a supporter of President Obama, living in Tennessee and progressive politics.
A liberal group is attacking Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a new television ad over his opposition to gun control measures. The group Progressive Change Campaign Committee is launching the commercial, which will air in Kentucky and Washington, D.C. area. It features gun owner and former military marksman Rodney Kendrick from Berea, calling on McConnell to support a ban on assault weapons and background checks on gun purchases.
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.
Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., has introduced a bill that seeks to diminish the influence of special interest groups. The Fair Elections Now Act—or FENA —would create a public financing system for congressional races by providing a 5-to-1 federal match of contributions smaller than $100. In order to qualify, candidates would have to raise $50,000 through those small, in-state contributions.
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.
By Katie Brandenburg & The Daily News Bowling Green & Katie Brandenburg
Changing Kentucky’s tax code will likely take longer than this year’s short legislative session, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson said Wednesday during a meeting of the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club. Abramson chaired the governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, which reported to the governor in December.
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 public pension reform package is expected to get a vote on the Senate floor about a week after it’s filed, Senate Republican leaders said Wednesday. GOP and Democratic senators heard recommendations from a pension task force co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer in a private meeting Wednesday.
Joining his fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now supports industrial hemp. In a statement released Thursday, McConnell said Paul and Comer—both Republicans, like McConnell—have convinced him that growing hemp for paper, oil and other purposes would be an economic boon for Kentucky farmers.
Liberal and Tea Party groups are denying claims by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign that they are working together to defeat the GOP leader in 2014. In a campaign fundraising e-mail Monday, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told supporters that liberal organizers were "attempting to infiltrate conservative" groups across the state.
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.
Republican leaders in the Louisville Metro Council are headed to Frankfort this week to lobby state lawmakers on pension reform. The city’s pension cost has more than doubled in the past decade to make up approximately 15 percent of the budget. In his State of the City address, Mayor Greg Fischer urged residents to call for their legislators to take action in this year’s session to change the system.
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.
State Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge. Photo provided by Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.
Campaigning for the Kentucky House last year, Brian Linder said state lawmakers do not need public pensions. This year, newly elected state Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge, has joined other legislators in the $63 million Legislators Retirement Plan. What happened? Linder and several other conservatives elected to the General Assembly in November said they belatedly learned that lawmakers legally cannot reject their pensions
Despite a request from Gov. Steve Beshear to put off redistricting until later this year in a special session of the General Assembly, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is moving forward with getting proposals on the divisive issue. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Stumbo sent a letter to House members asking them to submit proposed boundaries for new legislative districts by Feb. 1.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission threw its support Monday behind a senate bill that would, among other things, establish a licensing procedure for growers of industrial hemp should the federal government allow for it. This comes as the director of the Kentucky Narcotics Officers' Association argued against steps toward legalizing industrial hemp, citing concerns that hemp would overwhelm state drug-testing labs.