State Capitol

Governor Bevin has announced his appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education.  They include a former gubernatorial competitor and a former spokeswoman in his office.

The governor’s list of appointees to the board which oversees public education K through 12 statewide includes Hal Heiner.  Heiner is leaving his state cabinet position as secretary of Education and Workforce Development to take on this role.  Heiner also ran against Governor Bevin in the last gubernatorial primary. 

Fayette Schools Chief Came to Frankfort Friday

Apr 16, 2018
Stu Johnson

A trip to Memphis as the country reflected on the 50 years since the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King influenced Fayette Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk’s participation in teacher protests in Frankfort. 

Stu Johnson

The 2018 Kentucky General Assembly session ends today in an unusual Saturday session. The second to last day was a busy one.

The day began with a bit of deju vu as massive crowds of teachers inundated the capitol, lobbying for additional school funding. Lawmakers relatively quickly dispatched vetoes issued by Gov. Matt Bevin.  When the second to last day was done, House and Senate members had blocked Bevin’s vetoes on the budget, a tax bill and legislation to stretch pension payments for municipalities out over time.

Teachers Plan to Protest Again in Frankfort Friday

Apr 12, 2018

Teachers from across Kentucky are expected to converge on the state capitol again Friday/today as lawmakers return for the final days of the legislative session. Teachers are protesting pension cuts and encouraging lawmakers to override Gov. Bevin’s veto of the state budget. 

The statewide teachers union has called for lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the two-year state budget and revenue bills, which set aside more funding for public education than Bevin’s proposed budget did. 

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to block a new Kentucky law putting more restrictions on abortions.

The law bans a second trimester abortion procedure known as "dilation and evacuation."

During legislative debates, the bill's supporters called the procedure "gruesome.” 

Beshear, Teachers, Police Sue Bevin Over Changes To Public Pensions

Apr 11, 2018

A day after Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill overhauling retirement benefits for public workers, Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit to try and block it.

The statewide unions for public school teachers and police also joined the challenge.





Beshear argues the new law will lead to mass-retirement of current employees, creating an “imminent” threat to the state.

Governor Bevin Vetoes Pension Phase In Measure

Apr 5, 2018

Governor Matt Bevin has vetoed legislation allowing local governments to cover pension cost increases over time.  In his veto message, Bevin said it’s not the phase-in section of the measure which worries him.  The governor says some buy out provisions create too much risk to retirement systems and could burden taxpayers.

Retiring Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Robert King was honored Monday by the general assembly.  The recognition came the same time as a massive outcry when educators from across the state crammed into the state capitol to protest pension reforms.

Kentucky Lawmakers Send Budget And Tax Overhaul To Bevin

Apr 3, 2018
Stu Johnson

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature has passed a new two-year state budget that cuts much of state government in order to put more money into the state’s ailing pension systems.






But lawmakers also approved about $680 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax to 17 services ranging from auto repair to country club memberships and raising the tax on cigarettes.

Stu Johnson

Legislation to overhaul Kentucky’s foster care and adoption program has passed both houses of the general assembly.  Senate approval came Monday with a unanimous vote.  

Teachers Descend On Kentucky Capitol To Protest Pension Changes

Apr 3, 2018
Stu Johnson

Thousands of teachers have packed into the State Capitol building in Frankfort to protest the Republican-led legislature’s passage of a bill overhauling the state’s pension systems last week.




The pension changes would no longer give conventional pensions to future teachers, instead providing them with cash-balance retirement plans that depend on the stock market but are guaranteed to not lose money.


Stu Johnson

Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort later this morning to act on remaining bills including a possible vote on a two year spending plan.  Legislators from the House and Senate have been trying to reach consensus on the biennial budget.

When this discussion between House and Senate conferees began over a week ago there were some significant differences.  The House plan included calls for a 50 cent cigarette tax and a 25 cent levy on prescription opioids at the distribution level.  The senate backed plan didn’t include any tax increases.  

Teachers Storm Capitol Protesting Pension Bill

Mar 30, 2018


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. 

Kentucky Lawmakers Pass Pension Bill

Mar 30, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky legislature has passed public pension reform legislation with just a few days left in the current 2018 session.  

Debate on the House and Senate floors was accompanied by almost non-stop protest chanting from current and retired teachers.

The brand new pension bill got committee approval in the early afternoon, House backing a few hours later, and Senate approval late in the night.  The 22-15 senate vote got quick reaction from teachers.

After Day Of Private Meetings, Still No Agreement On Kentucky Budget

Mar 29, 2018

With time running out on this year’s legislative session, state budget leaders say they didn’t reach any compromises on a two-year spending plan during a day of closed-door meetings on Wednesday.

Questions remain about whether lawmakers will try and raise new revenue to boost the cash-strapped budget, what programs will be exempted from Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed 6.25 percent cuts and whether charter schools and a myriad of other state programs will be funded.

Senate budget chairman Chris McDaniel said lawmakers are slowly working towards a compromise.

Senate Acts This Week on MidWifery Legislation

Mar 28, 2018
Stu Johnson

Legislation tied to midwifery across Kentucky generated a great deal of debate in the state senate Tuesday.

Major Issues Still Pending As End Of Legislative Session Looms

Mar 28, 2018
Stu Johnson

As this year’s legislative session winds down, Kentucky lawmakers still have to make hard decisions on how the state will spend and make money over the next two years.


Republicans are solely in charge of writing the $22 billion two-year budget for the first time in state history, but leaders of the state House and Senate still disagree on the thorniest spending issues.

Package Liquor Quota Bill Advances to Full House

Mar 28, 2018

Legislation seeking to put into law an existing quota regulation for package liquor licensing continues to move through the Kentucky general assembly.  An effort to weaken the measure fell short in a House Committee Tuesday.

Kentucky Gang Bill Rolls Forward, Despite Protest

Mar 27, 2018
Stu Johnson

A bill that would broaden the definition of criminal gangs, give longer prison sentences to those labeled as gang members and increase penalties for gang recruiting is close to becoming law in Kentucky.

Supporters say the measure would discourage gang activity in the state, while opponents argue it would wrongly label some defendants as gang members and disproportionately affect African-American communities.

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky General Assembly will work this week to wrap up action on a number of issues.  That may not include final votes on public pension reforms.

Capitol Annex Cafeteria Future Up for Debate

Mar 26, 2018
Stu Johnson

There are lots of items on the negotiating table as legislative leaders from the House and Senate try to reach agreement on a state budget. That includes a matter near and dear to lawmakers and visitor’s stomachs. 

Along with discussions about education funding, Medicaid, and pensions, lawmakers are debating the future of the Capital Annex Cafeteria.

Republicans Writing Budget For First Time In Kentucky History

Mar 26, 2018
Stu Johnson

State legislative leaders said they made progress after the first day in Kentucky history that Republicans were in control of budget negotiations. But capitol reporter Ryland Barton says major differences between the state House and Senate versions of the two-year spending plan remain. 

The Senate opposes the House’s proposal to raise about $500 million in revenue by increasing the cigarette tax and creating a tax on opioid pain pills.

Meanwhile the House put about a $1 billion more in the teachers’ pension system than the Senate did.

Senate Approves Two Year Road Plan

Mar 23, 2018

The Kentucky Senate has approved the two year road plan which includes both new pavement and bridge repairs all across the Commonwealth.

Abortion Procedure Ban Nears Final Passage In Kentucky

Mar 23, 2018
Stu Johnson

A bill that would prohibit a common abortion procedure after the 11th week of pregnancy is nearing final passage from the Republican-led state legislature.

House Bill 454 would ban dilation and evacuation abortions after the 11th week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. The procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus using surgical tools and suction.

The bill passed out of the state Senate on Thursday and now returns to the House, which will consider a change made since it originally passed that chamber earlier this month.

Senate Acts to Add Family Court Judges

Mar 22, 2018

The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation calling for additional family court judges in needed service areas.  While the bill easily passed, there were still significant concerns expressed during floor debate.

 Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer believes more comprehensive judicial redistricting is needed. “It is my hope that we will continue to consider addressing judicial redistricting so we can provide access to justice to those growing regions of the state with dockets that are backed up as far as the eye can see,” said Thayer.

Stu Johnson

Legislation assuring that Kentucky public school students will be taught about the Holocaust has won final passage in the general assembly.  A holocaust survivor who lives in Kentucky was in attendance for the vote.  

81 year old Fred Gross was held in a concentration camp in France during World War II.  His brother, 13 years older, escaped and returned to help free captives, but Gross says they remained in hiding before making it to Switzerland. Gross remained on the floor of the Senate for the discussion and unanimous vote. 

Overhaul Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Passes Kentucky Senate Panel

Mar 21, 2018

A bill that would overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation system continues to roll forward in the state legislature despite opposition from law enforcement and labor groups.

House Bill 2 is a top priority of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and is also supported by the Kentucky Coal Association, who say that businesses have to pay too much for workers’ compensation insurance.

Tyler White is the president of the Kentucky Coal Association.

Female Incarceration Reforms Move on to Full House

Mar 21, 2018

Legislation to bring reforms to female prisons appears headed for final passage.  The senate measure got the approval Wednesday of the House Judiciary Committee.

Louisville Senator Julie Raque Adams wanted to keep the bill narrowly focused on incarcerated women and not be expanded to include broader criminal justice reforms.

“That was really my intent all along in filing this bill is to kind of address the problems we see with females who are incarcerated and I didn’t want that message to get watered down in a bigger bill,” said Raque-Adams

Kentucky Senate Budget Keeps Most Of Bevin’s Cuts, No New Revenue

Mar 20, 2018
Stu Johnson

Republicans in the state Senate have proposed keeping most of the budget cuts sought by Gov. Matt Bevin, while rejecting House Republicans’ plan to raise about $500 million through taxes on cigarettes and pain pills.

The spending plan quickly passed out of committee Tuesday morning and passed out of the full Senate after a debate Tuesday evening.


Stu Johnson

Senate consideration of the state budget Tuesday concluded with the measure passing generally along party lines with Democrats voting against the bill and Republicans for the spending plan. The floor debate which preceded the vote featured an often-heard refrain in Frankfort.