As U.S. Sen. Rand Paul objects to legislation that seeks to ban synthetic drugs on the grounds that drug laws should be state and local issues and federal sentencing guidelines are too harsh, he also cites in a letter to two other senators the proliferation of Islam in the prison system among his arguments against federal measures to ban the substances. In a four-page Dec. 14 letter to U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, obtained recently by the Daily News, Paul explains that one of the reasons he objects to three Senate bills dealing with synthetic drugs is that sending people to prison could lead to more people turning to the Islamic faith.
The likelihood of tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge joined several other issues business leaders from Northern Kentucky discussed with the Kentucky General Assembly on Thursday. More than 50 people traveled to Frankfort with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for the “Northern Kentucky Day in Frankfort.” Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, told the group the $2 billion Brent Spence Bridge replacement likely won’t get built without tolls.
After hearing emotional testimony from a former methamphetamine user, the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved a bill Thursday that would require a prescription for most cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Kentuckians still could purchase gel caps that contain pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient needed to make meth — without a prescription. It is more difficult to make meth with pseudoephedrine from a gel cap. The sponsor of Senate Bill 50, Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he didn't know the bill's chances in the full Senate. The legislation died in the Senate last year.
Backers of same-sex marriage are launching a petition drive to put onto the Ohio ballot a REPEAL of the 2004 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and that even bans policies that mirror gay marriage. Backers of the repeal may not make the ballot this year, but they’re intent on getting it onto the ballot at least next year.
A Louisville lawmaker is looking to enhance job creation in Kentucky’s auto industry by amending a law that’s already on the books. House Speaker Pro Temp Larry Clark has filed House Bill 400 to update the 2007 Kentucky Jobs Retention Act, which helped bring 3,000 jobs to Ford plants in Louisville. This year’s bill would retract requirements that incentives only go to facilities in Louisville or Lexington. That would let Kentucky’s other two carmakers take advantage of the program.
A bill that would make pseudoephedrine available only by prescription in Kentucky has cleared its first legislative hurdle. PSE is commonly found in cold medicines and is also used to make meth. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard another hour of testimony on the issue from law enforcement officers and former meth addicts today before passing the bill out of committee.
A “compromise” bill that would allow local governments to limit duties of constables by ordinance has passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The legislation, Senate Bill 30, which originally sought a constitutional amendment to abolish the office, would give fiscal courts and merged governments more authority over the roles of constables. Local governments could not abolish the office outright, though, and must leave at least one duty for the elected peace officers.
Changes may be coming to Gov. Steve Beshear's proposal for as many as seven casinos in Kentucky. Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he is open to revisions that address concerns raised after he introduced the constitutional amendment Tuesday. Some lawmakers were concerned that a casino might land in their district while others were upset about being excluded.
The Ohio House of Representatives has okayed rules for electronic slot machines at the state’s race tracks. As statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports, the approval came only after a mini-debate over whether expanded gambling is good or bad for Ohio.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will visit Louisville on March 1 as part of the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership lecture series. The scholarship program founded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has hosted several high-profiled speakers in the past including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. Panetta will be the first sitting secretary of defense to headline the lecture series, but the center isn’t clear on what he will discuss.
By Dean Manning, Corbin/Whitley News Journal & Trent Knuckles, Corbin/Whitley News-Journal
Corbin has gone from moist to wet. In Tuesday’s special election, voters narrowly approved a measure to allow package alcohol sales within the city limits by a combined total of 887-789 — just 98 votes separating the two sides. The contentious referendum was no surprise to organizers who proposed the ballot initiative in December. Barbourville voted down a similar proposal last week. Anti-alcohol forces, emboldened by the victory, had hoped to parlay that success in Corbin.
A bill recently introduced in the Kentucky legislature aims to keep steel, iron and wooden tires — typically found on Amish and Mennonite vehicles — off the roads unless they are covered by a rubber strip. The measure would combat rising road maintenance costs for local and state government, said sponsor Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville. “We have a hard time keeping our roads up as it is,” Pendleton said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to endorse a plan by the House GOP to extend the payroll-tax holiday for the remain of the year without paying for it. After months of partisan gridlock that resulted in a short-term extension set to expire February 29, GOP leaders in the House have yielded by offering to vote on the 2 percent tax relief as a stand alone bill.
When the congressional super committee failed to find more than one trillion dollars in budget cuts, it triggered automatic reductions throughout the entire federal budget. It could force the Pentagon to close bases and cut military spending in places like Kentucky.
Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler will have several new Kentucky counties to get familiar with as he fights for a fifth term in office. A new legislative district map now includes all of Scott County and part of Harrison County in the 6th District, as well as Nicholas, Robertson, Fleming, Bath, Menifee, and Wolfe counties.
Changes could already be coming to Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed gambling amendment. The amendment would allow up to seven casinos in Kentucky, with five of them based at horse racing tracks. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports expanded gaming in Kentucky, but he still has major questions about the amendment. And Stumbo says those questions will likely lead to changes to the measure if it can pass the state Senate.
After weeks of waiting, Governor Steve Beshear and state Senator Damon Thayer have unveiled their constitutional amendment for expanded gambling. The amendment allows for up to seven casinos in Kentucky, but five must be at horse racing tracks. The two free-standing casinos cannot be within sixty miles of a track, regardless of whether that track has a casino.
After several years, a bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky has received a hearing in a House committee. Advocates for and against the measure spent this morning debating the merits of the education reform in the capitol. Charter school administrators from other states joined Rep. Brad Montell, the bill’s sponsor, and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Dave Adkission in support of the bill.
Several candidates for state legislative office are decrying the partisanship in Frankfort that has put their bids in limbo. The General Assembly approved new district maps last month, but the plans faced legal challenges and were thrown out last week by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherds’ ruling. That’s caused candidates who are running in the new districts to either drop out, be disqualified or decide to wait for the appeals process to finish before mounting campaigns.
Continuing his crusade against the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United case, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., has co-sponsored legislation that requires full disclosure of corporate and special-interest money in elections. The high court’s decision allows corporations to spend unlimited funds either directly or through third parties and political action committees to influence elections.
The short-term extension of the payroll tax cut is set to expire at the end of this month, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is skeptical a compromise can be reached. In December, Congress was embroiled in a partisan debate over the issue, but was able to broker a deal to extend the relief for an additional two months. A 20-member conference committee is now discussing whether and how to pay for a further extension of the two percent tax break for nearly every working American.
It’s an alarm law enforcement has been sounding for years – prescription drug abuse is a growing trend and is claiming lives as the problem sweeps across the state from the east to the west. Statewide, 82 people a month die from drug overdoses. Kentucky is attempting to address the issue during this legislative session as eight bills have been introduced to deal with different aspects of prescription drug diversion, abuse and regulations.
The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow individual school districts to raise their dropout age to 18 – a concept local superintendents say has merit, although they say all factors, such as funding needs, need to be taken into account. Two versions of dropout-age legislation are under consideration by the General Assembly. Senate Bill 109 does not go as far as House Bill 216, which was passed in January and would raise the dropout age to 18 across the state. Currently, students in Kentucky can drop out of school at age 16 with a parent’s permission.
A bill that would make placement agents –financial middlemen who help locate investors for investment funds – register as lobbyists has unanimously cleared a House panel. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an informal inquiry on the use of placement agents in investments by the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
After weeks of disagreement, new districts for Kentucky's six U.S. House seats will become law. The issue appeared dead earlier this week when the state Senate was unable to approve a new map. But lawmakers rallied around a compromise plan last night. Under the new plan, the Second District will lose some of its northern counties and stretch further east. And the Sixth District around Lexington will become safe for Congressman Ben Chandler as it sheds Republican counties.