Kentucky's industrial hemp supporters lashed out Thursday against a last-minute amendment to the hemp bill that's been under consideration this year in the General Assembly. State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat and the majority floor leader, has proposed an amendment turning the Senate-approve hemp bill into a five year study. It also gives the licensing responsibilities to Kentucky State Police, which argues that legalized hemp would harm law enforcement efforts to target hemp's cousin, marijuana.
Lawmakers continue to work toward a resolution on public employee pensions, arguably the top unresolved issue of the 2013 legislative session. House and Senate leaders have been at an impasse on systematic changes to pension plans for future state and municipal workers, legislators and judges, as well as funding methods to pay for pension contributions expected to cost up to $120 million more in fiscal year 2015.
Joining Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced a bill to allow judges greater flexibility in sentencing federal crimes where a mandatory minimum punishment is considered unnecessary. The bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 will expand the so-called "safety valve", which allows judges to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum in qualifying drug cases.
A Louisville businessman exploring a Republican primary against U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is setting up meetings with Tea Party groups in Central Kentucky. David Adams, a tea party activist from Central Kentucky, said he's planning to meet with Bevin next week in Lexington with other activists to familiarize themselves with Matt Bevin, the possible Republican Senate candidate and a Louisvillian who runs the Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing.
State leaders are still working to find solutions to the Kentucky's troubled pension system—but he's not promising a deal the time the General Assembly regular session ends next week, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Monday.
After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law. Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.
Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, beating several high-profile names among his party's potential 2016 White House contenders. Paul edged out GOP rival and fellow Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the largely symbolic survey among a crowded field of two dozen candidates. Those Paul bested include former Republican vice presidential nominees Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan.
Taxpayers footed the nearly $1,000 bill for boxed barbecue dinners provided to state senators and their staffs as they worked late into the evening on March 7. It was the first time since April 15, 2008, that taxpayers' dollars were used to feed the Republican-led Senate during a legislative session, according to state records. The Democrat-led House has not bought its members a meal during a legislative session since March 2007.
The smokestack of an aluminum smelting plant, 1973.
Credit Doug Wilson / Environmental Protection Agency
With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.
Speaking at the House Budget Committee this week, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth said government should be a partner with business and the Republican-crafted 2014 budget will hurt economic growth. Among the highlights GOP lawmakers have touted are $6.4 trillion in deficit cuts and reducing the corporate tax by 10 percent.
Kentucky’s 17-member panel currently reviewing certain child abuse caseswill remain a permanent part of state accountability and child advocates say the recently-passed law creating the panel adds more transparency and accountability. Last year, Gov. Steve Beshear created the 17-member panel through an executive order to improve the systems overseeing child abuse and neglect. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is involved in many of these cases, has been criticized for lacking transparency and accountability.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers working late Tuesday night.
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio
Kentucky legislators have returned home for the next 12 days after passing a flurry of bills in the recent days of the 2013 General Assembly session. But many big issues still remain on the table and lawmakers will have two days left—March 25 and 26—to hammer out any remaining issues, including pensions and military voting bills.
Senate President Robert Stivers talks with other legislators.
Credit Rae Hodge/WFPL
FRANKFORT — Two priorities of Kentucky lawmakers will spill over to the so-called veto period of the 2013 legislative sessions after the issues could not be resolved by the end of Tuesday. Legislators were unable to compromise on pension reform and the military electronic voting bill before both legislative chambers adjourned until March 25.
he WEKU Stations and Kentucky Educational Television combined forces to present a special interactive program discussing the issues and accomplishments of the 2013 Kentucky legislative session. KET's Bill Goodman and WEKU's John Hingsbergen co-hosted the hour-long program Tuesday morning March 12.
With no deal and time running out, a special session is becoming more likely for Kentucky lawmakers to reform the underfunded pension programs for state employees, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Tuesday. It's unlikely that the General Assembly will address pension reform before legislators leave Frankfort after Tuesday for a brief period called the veto break, Beshear said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will be running his first TV ad for re-election in Kentucky this week. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton confirmed with WFPL it will be a "positive buy" costing six figures and will begin airing Thursday. Thus far, the GOP leader has been pummeled by attack ads from liberal groups on gun regulations and birth control.
Kentucky lawmakers reached a deal Monday in a conference committee on legislation addressing issues with special taxing districts. The committee adopted a new proposal that would require special districts to present their annual budgets or any new fee increases to their local fiscal court. But the compromise on House Bill 1 does not allow the fiscal court veto or approval powers of the special district's actions, as Senate Republicans had recently suggested.
A bill designed to allow Kentuckians in the military deployed overseas vote electronically has cleared the House, after amendments returned Senate Bill 1 to a full electronic system. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is the main promoter of the bill and urged House lawmakers to return to full electronic provisions after the Senate did not include the electronic return of a ballot.
The Kentucky House approved on Monday legislation that gradually raises the age when students can drop out of school—a compromise reached after past efforts to strike a deal failed. The dropout bill allows local school boards to choose whether to raise the dropout age to 18. After 55 percent of Kentucky's school boards raise the drop out limit, the change in four years becomes mandatory statewide.
Kentucky's legislative leaders have hope they can finish redistricting before the current session ends later this month. New legislative districts were drafted and passed last year to reflect the 2010 Census. A judge threw them out, however, saying lawmakers did not properly divide up the state.
House and Senate leaders met with Gov. Steve Beshear Friday, looking to find common ground on a plan to reform Kentucky’s ailing public pension system and avoid a special session this year. Those involved described the meeting as productive, and talks are expected to continue during the upcoming 10-day veto recess. The two legislative chambers have passed fundamentally different retirement plans for future state and municipal workers, and the House has proposed a dedicated funding stream to pay full pension contributions, something the state has not done in years.