Ryland Barton

This week in Kentucky politics, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced he’s running for governor, the state auditor released a report finding a “pervasive lack of accountability” in Kentucky’s courts administration and a bunch of new laws go into effect this weekend.

WKMS

The agency that runs Kentucky’s court system has a “pervasive lack of accountability” according to a special examination released by state Auditor Mike Harmon. 

State auditor Mike Harmon says that the Administrative Office of the Courts improperly held employee-only sales of surplus property and left the system vulnerable to abuse by top officials. 

Ky.gov

A judge has denied Gov. Matt Bevin’s request to reconsider a ruling that struck down changes to Kentucky’s pensions system. 

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd blocked the pension law last month, saying that lawmakers had violated the state Constitution by not following proper procedure when they passed it.

Bevin asked Shepherd to amend his ruling to determine if the pension bill violated the state’s “inviolable contract”—a provision that protects state worker benefits from being tinkered with after they’ve been hired. 
 

This week in state politics, federal education officials came to Kentucky to talk about ways to make schools safer and Gov. Matt Bevin said it all comes down to kids’ cell phone use. One of the Republican lawmakers who helped make changes to the state pension system says they’ll pass the bill again if it’s struck down by the courts. And the state’s new education commissioner talked about the potential costs of taking over Louisville’s school system. 

Federal School Safety Commission To Meet In Lexington

Jun 25, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Federal education officials will be in Lexington on Tuesday to hear recommendations about how to make schools safer.

The panel is led by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

The Federal Commission on School Safety also includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. 

The panel was created by President Donald Trump after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 14 people dead. 
 

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Pension Bill Struck Down

Jun 22, 2018

This week in Kentucky politics, a judge struck down Kentucky’s new pension law, saying legislators broke the law by rushing the bill to passage. Kentucky’s health secretary says the state will have to cut benefits if a federal court blocks Gov. Matt Bevin’s changes to the Medicaid system. And Democrats no longer make up a majority of registered voters in the state. 

Kentucky.com

A judge has struck down changes made to Kentucky’s pension systems earlier this year. The ruling states that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage in a matter of hours. 

The challenge is the latest in a series of legal disputes between Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. 

Kentucky.com

Kentucky’s top health official says the state will have to cut benefits to Medicaid recipients if a federal court strikes down changes to the program which is scheduled to begin roll out July 1.

For the first time since the Civil War, a majority of Kentucky voters don’t identify as Democrats as Republicans continue to make gains in voter registrations in the state.

It is a trend  that has been developing for a long time. 

Kentucky Distilled: The Poor People's Campaign

Jun 15, 2018

This week in Kentucky politics, Kentucky State Troopers shut protesters out of the state Capitol, allowing only two people to enter the building at a time. Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Walgreens, saying the company helped fuel the opioid epidemic in the state. And a high-powered lobbyist was in federal court as prosecutors try to prove he bribed a former state official to help a client get state contracts. Capitol reporter Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.  

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Walgreens, saying the company helped fuel the opioid epidemic by failing to monitor large shipments of pain pills throughout the state. 

It's latest of several lawsuits Beshear has filed against opioid distributors and manufacturers. Beshear said Walgreens failed to report “suspiciously large orders” it received for prescription pain pills. 

Marsy's Law for Kentucky

Along with elections for the state legislature and Congress, this November Kentuckians will weigh in on Marsy’s Law, which would amend the state constitution to create new rights for crime victims. But a group of criminal defense lawyers says they’ll sue to keep Marsy’s Law off the ballot, saying the language Kentuckians will see on Election Day is too vague. 
“I got online and found out where Johnny was, the gentleman who murdered my grandson, just by accident.” 

During a hearing Thursday the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law questioned why state lawmakers were able to pass the measure out of the Republican-led legislature in just one day. 

State law requires bills to be formally presented on three separate days before they are eligible to be voted on in the state House and Senate, though lawmakers frequently vote to override the rule. The new changes to Kentucky’s pension system were passed in just one day. 
 

This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin said he’s partnering with a former Democratic congressman to help people navigate the state’s new Medicaid rules. We found out that lobbyists set a new spending record at the state legislature as lawmakers made changes to the tax code. Plus, a state-funded aluminum mill broke ground in northeastern Kentucky and  Bevin asked for a judge to recuse himself from the lawsuit over the new pension bill. 

Impremedia.net

Louisville’s practice of busing students around the city to try and create more diverse schools is under fire again as Kentucky education officials consider whether to take over management of Jefferson County Public Schools.

Rep.. Donna Mayfield has dropped out of her race for re-election.Credit Richmond RegisterEdit | Remove

A Republican state representative from Winchester has withdrawn her candidacy for re-election, saying that politics in Frankfort has become “too vicious.” 

Rep. Donna Mayfield made the announcement during a candidate forum on Wednesday evening according to a Facebook Live video of the event posted by the Winchester Sun. 

This week in Kentucky politics, speculation flared that Kentucky’s new education leaders would try to take over Louisville’s public school district. Plus, a judge ruled that Attorney General Andy Beshear  can sue the governor over the pension bill that was signed into law earlier this month. Capitol reporter Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. 

Teachers Storm Capitol Protesting Pension Bill

Mar 30, 2018
Ketnucky.com

 

Teachers from around Kentucky descended on Frankfort Friday  morning to protest a surprise pension bill that was rushed through the state legislature the day before. About two dozen school districts were shut down because of teacher walk outs. 

Hundreds of teachers and other state employees packed the Kentucky Capitol Wednesday as Republican lawmakers presented their new plan to overhaul the state’s ailing pension systems. 

Supporters of the bill say it would save the state $4.8 billion over the next 30 years by requiring the legislature to put more money into the pension systems and reducing benefits to current and future retirees. 

Janet Sogar, a retired teacher from Florence, says she has a hard time encouraging young people to become teachers because of proposed cuts to future teacher pensions. 

State Capitols Online

This week at the state legislature, a new bill overhauling the public pension system was finally filed and it’s a lot different from the proposal made by Gov. Matt Bevin last fall. But, it still reduces benefits to many current and most future state employees while promising massive infusions of cash into the pension systems. 
Bevin’s plan to overhaul the pension system would have moved most future and some current state employees onto 401k-style retirement plans. 

The Kentucky House Natural Resources Committee has advanced a controversial bill that would scale back Kentucky’s solar net metering program, an effort to compensate households with solar panels for putting energy back on the power grid. 

State law requires power companies to compensate those households with credits that can be used on future power bills. 

But under House Bill 227, the value of those credits would be reduced from the retail price of power to the wholesale price—a reduction of about two-thirds. 

Kentucky.com

Lawmakers return to Frankfort this week for the 2018 General Assembly and are slated to make changes to the state’s pension systems, craft a new two-year budget and consider a variety of other legislation.

This will be the first time in Kentucky history that a budget will be written by a Republican-led legislature and governor. 
 

On WHAS Radio’s Terry Meiners Show, Bevin said major cuts are likely across state government. 

When Will Jeff Hoover Officially Step Down? Soon

Dec 26, 2017
@KyHoover

Hoover announced he was stepping down from his role as speaker last month after admitting he exchanged sexually-charged text messages with a staffer. 

On WHAS radio’s Terry Meiners show, Bevin said it’s “highly unlikely” that Hoover would try to keep his leadership position when the General Assembly goes back into session. 

“I don’t know why he would do that. He’s already stated that it’s his intent to stand down. You can’t officially resign until the House is in session, which will happen when they come back in again.” 

Berea College

A provision that would have protected Berea College from a tax on university endowments has been removed from the tax bill passed by Congress today. 

On Tuesday evening a Senate parliamentarian ruled that the provision shielding Berea’s endowment from the tax violated the chamber’s rules. 

Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican representing the 6th Congressional district blamed the removal on Democrats, who originally challenged the provision.  

Lawmakers Say Tax Reform Unlikely

Dec 20, 2017
LRC.GOV

Republican leaders of the General Assembly are throwing water on the idea that they’ll make major changes to the state’s tax code during the upcoming legislative session. 

Lawmakers have to craft a new two-year budget for the state and are hoping to overhaul the pension systems in the session which lasts from Jan. 2 until mid-April. 

At a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said he doesn’t think there will be time for tax reform in the upcoming session. 

Brian Burkhart


This week in Kentucky politics, the president of the Senate filed a bill that would strip powers from the attorney general’s office and give them to the governor.

As the legislative session winds down, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether a charter schools bill will pass and if it does, what it will look like. And reports that President Trump would visit Louisville this week were walked back…but Vice President Mike Pence WILL be coming.

Capitol reporter Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

This week, Kentucky was on the national stage as former Gov. Steve Beshear gave the Democrats’ response to President Trump’s first congressional address. And Gov. Matt Bevin went to the White House to give his assessment of the Affordable Care Act.

Plus, as the legislative session winds down, the General Assembly finally advanced a charter schools bill.

Capitol reporter Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

There’s more on the 2017 session here.

A sweeping criminal justice bill has been filed in the Kentucky General Assembly. It aims to provide workforce training for state prisoners, fight drug addiction and increase penalties for some crimes.

Kentuckians were among the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled to Washington D.C. this weekend. Some attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and others were there for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, protesting Trump’s attitudes toward women and minorities.

As the first weekend of the new administration is in the books, I checked in with a couple Kentuckians who traveled to the events for very different reasons.

Listen to the audio in the player above.

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