Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has appointed a new state beekeeper. Sean Burgess replaces Phil Craft, who was fired in January. When Comer took office at the beginning of the year, he replaced 16 of his office’s political appointees. That included Craft, the state apiarist. At the time, Craft’s firing raised eyebrows in the state’s beekeeping community. This wasn’t only because Craft was knowledgeable and respected in the field—which he was—but because many weren’t aware the state’s top beekeeper was a political appointee.
On this week's edition of Kentucky Tonight, host Bill Goodman and guests will issues confronting the General Assembly. The program, which airs "live" on KET at 8:00 pm Monday, repeats at 11:00 am Tuesday on the WEKU stations.
Gov. Steve Beshear has ordered the Kentucky General Assembly to convene an extraordinary session at noon Monday to consider a transportation budget and a bill aimed at battling prescription drug abuse. Beshear's call for a special legislative session came about 12 hours after lawmakers ended their regular 60-day session Thursday night without approving the Transportation Cabinet's operating budget. In his call, Beshear blasted Senate President David Williams for blocking approval of the bills on Thursday.
In a statement, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway expressed disappointment with state lawmakers for failing to pass legislation to combat prescription drug abuse. The initial proposal required doctors to use KASPER, which is the state’s prescription monitoring system set up to crack down on “pill mill” operators. It also required that pain management clinics be owned by physicians licensed in Kentucky.
U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis called for congressional candidate Thomas Massie to pull his first campaign television ad because it used one of Davis’ floor speeches without permission of the congressman. Massie has not pulled the ad but said he will listen to suggestions from Davis on how to improve the ad. Massie serves as the Lewis County judge-executive and is one of seven Republicans vying to replace the retiring Davis in the Fourth Congressional District.
As primary campaigns in Kentucky warm up, one of the highest-profile contests has turned into a blame game. State Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington is one of six Republicans vying to replace outgoing Fourth Congressional District Congressman Geoff Davis. One of her opponents, Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore, is criticizing Webb-Edgington for missing crucial votes on the state budget last week. Moore says his opponent was too busy fundraising to fulfill her duty as a state lawmaker.
The Kentucky Senate has approved a mandatory pay raise for circuit court clerks, at a possible cost to taxpayers of $2 million to $3 million a year, after a Senate Republican leader quietly added the proposal to an unrelated House bill. Under the proposed state budget agreed to early Thursday, state workers will not get a pay raise next year, and state retirees will not get a cost-of-living adjustment in their pensions.
Even if the US Supreme Court overturns health care reforms enacted a few years ago by Congress, many critics say the effort will continue. In a series of hearings this week, the High Court considers their constitutionality. Among the biggest critics of the reform effort is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Still, Senator Paul agrees the old health care system didn’t work. The Republican discussed his ideas for reform.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear three days of arguments challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law Monday. Justices will hear several different legal arguments against the Affordable Care Act, but their first question will be whether it is too soon for the high court to review the law. The reform has been heralded by supporters as historic and criticized by opponents as an overreach of federal powers mainly for its individual mandate provision.
It’s not the kind of reform favored by the Obama Administration, but, Kentucky’s junior Senator says health care reform should continue. With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, Senator Rand Paul claims the country will get a better set of reforms. If the US Supreme Court overturns health care laws enacted a few years ago by Congress, Paul says they’ll get a re-do.
When Congress focuses on a relative few hot potato issues, central Kentucky Representative Ben Chandler says the result is contentiousness. During a visit last week to his 6th Congressional District, Chandler said more could be gained by both parties when they give a little bit.
In a case that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in revoking permits for a strip mine in West Virginia. The EPA vetoed the permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine more than a year ago, saying it would cause irreparable damage to the environment. But today (Friday) U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in favor of St. Louis-based Arch.
Kentucky’s importance in the presidential campaign could be growing. With the G-O-P still divided over a nominee, U-S Senator Rand Paul says Kentucky’s May primary could be decisive. The Republican’s father, Congressman Ron Paul, is among the contenders. If they deny frontrunner Mitt Romney a majority of delegates, Senator Paul says his dad’s influence improves.
The incumbent in central Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District says there’s no easy way to remove politics from the legislative redistricting. A report released this week from the Center for Public Integrity gave Kentucky a failing grade for redistricting. Democrat Ben Chandler says even an independent panel may not provide a complete solution.
A Senate bill that would cap the amount of debt Kentucky could accumulate was met with skepticism in the House budget committee Tuesday. House Appropriations and Revenue chairman Rick Rand said after the hearing on Senate Bill 1 that he was not sure whether the Democratic House would vote on the measure, which the Senate approved 34-2. The bill would not allow debt payments to exceed 6 percent of state revenue.
Santorum's campaign has sent mailers to Kentucky Republicans asking for their time and money. In the three-page letter, Santorum says he has the best grassroots political operation of any GOP candidate, then he asks for a $35 donation. The letter also asks potential supporters to help correct what he calls the mistake of 2008, when conservative voters allowed John McCain to receive the GOP Presidential nomination.
Last year, a resident of a Western Kentucky nursing home contracted a potentially life-threatening gum infection because the staff never realized the person wore dentures and hadn't removed them for six months, according to a state citation. Some officials said the incident is reflective of a long standing problem in many nursing homes: The staff tends to ignore the oral health of residents. But a House Health and Welfare committee on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would require the state to implement a program to find a solution.
The US Senate wraps up work this evening on a bill to fund the nation’s highways, but Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul says it’s a bad piece of legislation. The bi-partisan legislation reauthorizes the federal highway program for another two years and keeps funding at current levels. Democrats say it’s shortsighted. And Republican Senator Paul says Kentucky’s not getting nearly enough. Kentucky needs federal assistance so several ailing bridges can be repaired.
“It was,” said Bob Fox, pastor at Faith Baptist Church, “an interesting experience.” There he was, joining at least five dozen other pastors and leaders from Baptist churches and organizations across the country at the Eisenhower Office Building on the White House grounds to discuss issues confronting the nation. “It was a diverse group. There were Baptists from 20 states, African-American Baptists, Hispanic Baptists and about 20 women,” Fox said.
Kentucky lawmakers and their staffs have raised more than twenty thousand dollars for disaster relief this week. Members of the Kentucky General Assembly had set a goal of ten thousand dollars to donate to the Red Cross in the wake of tornadoes that struck eastern and northern Kentucky last week. House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s office handled the donations. Today, Stumbo announced to his chamber they had surpassed their goal.
Six House Republicans boycotted a committee meeting Thursday because the chairman refused to take a vote on a measure that would require random drug testing of people who receive welfare and other public benefits. But House Health and Welfare chairman Tom Burch said House Bill 26 would have been defeated if the committee had taken a vote. "I didn't want to embarrass him," Burch, D-Louisville, said of Rep. Lonnie Napier, the primary sponsor of HB 26. Napier, one of the long est-serving members of the House, announced earlier this year that he was not seeking re-election.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul opposes a transportation bill that’s vital to Kentucky, but he’s introduced his own budget that funds those projects through elimination of government agencies. The current highway authorization expires at month’s end – without an extension projects throughout the commonwealth will languish. Kentuckians have already felt the impact of the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.
A bill to help curb the production of methamphetamine has cleared one legislative hurdle and now goes to the other. If approved, Senate Bill 3, which is sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, will decrease the over-the-counter purchase limit of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from 9 to 7.2 grams each month, and impose a 24-gram yearly limit. The ephedrine and pseudoephedrine drugs, mixed with other drugs and chemicals, are used to make meth. Currently, buyers must show identification to purchase over-the-counter decongestants like Claritin D or Mucinex DM.
Standing by his libertarian principles, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul reiterated his opposition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency when he said victims of the deadly tornadoes that hit Kentucky should not receive federal aid. Last week, a series of storms across the South and Midwest caused injury, property damage and killed dozens, including small towns in Kentucky and southern Indiana.
In a joint letter sent to the White House Monday morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul urged President Obama to support a request for a major disaster declaration for Kentucky after a number of deadly tornadoes struck the commonwealth. Last week, an outbreak of storms caused damage to several towns, including West Liberty, Piner and Salyersville, killing 21 residents and injuring hundreds more.
The governors of Indiana and Kentucky have forged an historic agreement to pay for two new bridges across the Ohio River. Construction will begin before year’s end and is expected to be completed within six years at a cost $1.5 billion less than originally projected. “Through cooperation and determination, we will achieve what this region has talked about – but been unable to deliver – for four decades,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement issued by his office.