The Kentucky House will vote Tuesday whether to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of the "religious freedom" bill. Many House Democrats supported the bill when it first came up for a vote, though the decision to consider the veto was more contentious when taken up in a Democratic caucus meeting Monday. Speaker Greg Stumbo expects the override to go through, but he's not sure how strong the support will be.
With only one day left in this year's legislative session, Kentucky House leaders are hopeful they have a deal to up shore up the state's underfunded pension system. But there may not be time to get it through the legislature. House Democrats' are building support for a proposal that uses technical wrangling of revenue sources to cut some taxes while raising other funds to pay for pension reform. The current proposal would cut the gasoline tax by one cent, resulting in a loss of funds for the state road fund.
The Kentucky Lottery Corporation is moving ahead with a new Keno game and online lottery sales after unanimously approval from its board. The board approved the new games with the hopes they would generate $85 million a year by 2023. State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach spearheaded the effort to expand to Keno and online as a way to help generate more revenue for the state.
Kentucky Representative Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, is urging fellow Democrats in the state House to override Governor Steve Beshear's veto of the so-called 'religious freedom' bill. The governor blocked the legislation Friday after tremendous pressure to reject the measure, which would allow residents to ignore any laws or regulations that violate tenets of their faith.
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.