State Capitol

Stu Johnson

Legislation calling for state regulation of online eye exams using a cell phone app has emerged from the House Health and Family Services Committee.  

The measure calls for, among other things, simultaneous interaction with a doctor and in-person exams every two years.  Dr. Ben Gaddie is an optometrist in Louisville. “Blinding eye diseases have no symptoms.  In fact, about 85 percent of all blinding eye diseases have no symptoms until it’s too late,” said Gaddie.

 

Kentucky Senate Passes Terrorism Related Measure

Feb 2, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has unanimously backed legislation making  terrorism a capital offense in Kentucky.  The bill sponsor says it’s a measure focusing on victim compensation and not terrorism prevention.

Stu Johnson

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson has made his case for state financial support during what’s shaping up to be a very difficult budget year.  Benson testified before the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education. 

education.ky.gov

Kentucky’s education commissioner worries that Governor Bevin’s budget recommendation could put some school districts in what he termed “extreme financial distress.”  Stephen Pruitt appeared before the House Budget Review Subcommittee.

Stu Johnson

Kentuckians with mental and physical disabilities filled the halls of the state capital and annex Wednesday.  They were in Frankfort to lobby lawmakers for social service funding.

Stu Johnson

The word “crisis” was used more than once Tuesday to describe the status of Kentucky’s prison population.  The description came during testimony before the House Budget subcommittee on public safety.

While the agenda item referred to a review of Governor Bevin’s recommended budget, much attention focused on major overcrowding in state prisons and county jails.  Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley. “We’re in the crisis, but we’re staring at the edge of a cliff and we could fall over it,” noted Tilley.

 

Traditional Pace Found in Kentucky Senate

Jan 29, 2018
Stu Johnson

Come Wednesday morning, one-third of the 2018 general assembly session will be in the books. Much in line with past sessions, so far few bills have seen action in both chambers.

Only two bills have made it through both the House and Senate. 

Over the years, the filing deadline to run for office has been cited as a factor in bill consideration. Traditionally, lawmakers often wait to see about opposition before casting key votes. Legislation to move up the candidate filing deadline has been considered previously. 

klc.org

More than just current state workers and state retirees are waiting to see what pension reforms come from the Kentucky General Assembly. Local government officials are keeping close tabs on developments in Frankfort.

Kentucky Amusement Park Seeks Overtime Exemption

Jan 26, 2018
kentuckykingdom.com

Legislation aimed at helping Kentucky’s largest amusement park maintain summertime staffing has opponents worried about weakening minimum wage protections.  The measure got senate committee backing this week.

Stu Johnson

Hundreds of students, the majority from private schools, rallied at the capitol Thursday as part of National School Choice Week.  Kentucky lawmakers could take up legislation to support expanding opportunities for students to attend private schools. 

Students waved yellow towels promoting school choice on the walk and grass between the capitol and annex where lawmakers travel back and forth.  Eli Hutchinson attends Somerset Christian School.

kledispatches.ky.gov

Legislation creating state civil and criminal penalties for acts of terrorism is headed to the Kentucky Senate.

The bill establishes the crime as a capital offense punishable by imprisonment for life without probation or parole.  The measure also allows victims of terrorism to file for civil damages against a terrorist or terrorist group. 

 

House Committee Acts to Criminalize Revenge Porn

Jan 25, 2018
Stu Johnson

The House Judiciary Committee has acted unanimously to criminalize what has typically been termed “revenge porn”.  The measure includes penalties for distributors and web sites which knowingly post such material.

Senate Passes Bill Requiring Abstinence Instruction

Jan 24, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has voted to require abstinence be included in any sex education course taught in public schools.  

Proponents like Bill Sponsor Stephen Meredith stressed Wednesday afternoon it is not an abstinence only measure. “Abstinence and monogamy are just plain old fashion common sense.  Period. No hidden agenda,” said Meredith.

Paducah Senator Danny Carrol characterized the legislation as setting a firm baseline for students to follow. 

Louisville Senator Denise Harper Angel cast a no vote.

kentuckyteacher.org

The Kentucky Senate has passed legislation aimed at creating more flexibility in teacher professional development.  It also seeks to establish consistent rigor for in-home instruction when school is not in session due to winter weather.

Budget Review Begins in Kentucky House

Jan 22, 2018
Stu Johnson

Now that Governor Bevin has offered his two year budget for review, the state’s 138 lawmakers will begin their work, culminating with floor votes in each chamber.  The House gets the first shot at the budget as outlined in statute. 

Keeneland

A leader in the Kentucky senate believes electronic gambling machines focusing on previously run horse races are partly responsible for record purses at Lexington’s historic track.  Keeneland announced its plans for the spring meet last week.

Keeneland officials says this spring’s April meet will feature a season record $4.4 million in purse money.  Lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer keep up with one of Kentucky’s signature industries. 

 

Stu Johnson

With just under three weeks of Kentucky legislative activity on the books, leaders of the General Assembly remain unsure when action on pension reforms will occur. No pension bill has been filed thus far in the House or Senate.

firstyearcourses.eku.edu

The director of the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation says it’s a fact of life that most students attending college take on some debt.

 

Eugene Hutchins appeared before members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education Thursday. Hutchins says families going “over their head” with debt is not the best plan for the family or student. “I think what we encourage for families as far as their planning process to factor in what the cost of debt is going to be in where they are choosing to go to school,” said Hutchins. 

 

Children's Advocates Converge on the State Capitol

Jan 18, 2018
Stu Johnson

Kentuckians working to help at risk and abused children came to the state capitol today.  Children’s Advocacy Day began with a rotunda rally.

The message was clear, ‘vote for kids.’  Those votes could cover everything from school funding to foster care to adoption. Jane Herms is director of the Family Nurturing Center in Northern Kentucky, which is a child abuse prevention and treatment facility.  Herms says lobbying state lawmakers is a key part of the effort to help kids.

Cannabis Bill is Filed in Kentucky Senate

Jan 18, 2018
Stu Johnson

Legislation to legalize cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use is before members of the Kentucky Senate.  Louisville Senator Dan Seum held a news conference Wednesday and then filed the bill. 

The Louisville senator was asked about dealing with moral or religious objections.
 

“It’s out there.  We’re using it anyway.  We might as well reap the harvest so to speak,” said Seum 

Stu Johnson

Bevin’s budget bill keeps per-pupil funding for Kentucky’s public education students at $3,981 per student, but chips away at support programs and requires local school districts to pay a larger share of student transportation costs.

Administration officials say budget pressures created by the pension crisis has made it “harder to protect” public education from cuts.

Governor Outlines Budget Calling for 6.25% Cut

Jan 16, 2018
Stu Johnson

Gov. Matt Bevin proposed cutting most state spending by 6.25 percent over the next two years and eliminating 70 programs across state government during his budget address Tuesday evening.

The new proposal comes after Bevin signed a two-year budget that cut most state spending by nine percent in 2016.

Stu Johnson

Gov. Matt Bevin covered lots of ground in last night’s State of the Commonwealth and Budget address. That included a glimpse into the future funding of corrections and higher education.

Foster Care Review in Frankfort

Jan 15, 2018
adopt.ky.gov

A representative with an organization which advocates for at risk children and families says investing on “front end” care can help to reduce the number of foster children needing residential based services.  

Governor Delivers His Budget Speech Tuesday

Jan 15, 2018
kentucky.com

Gov. Matt Bevin will deliver his state of the commonwealth and budget address tomorrow evening, presenting how he thinks the state should spend its money over the next two years. Bevin has hinted at major cuts to set aside more money for the state’s pension systems. 

Bevin administration officials say Kentucky needs an additional $700 million for the pension systems, meaning pensions would take up about 20 percent of state spending. 

wkms.org

The federal government has approved most of Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

Bevin’s proposal includes requiring many of the state’s Medicaid enrollees to perform some kind of “community engagement” — work, volunteer service, job training or education. The federal government paved the way for the approval on Thursday, when it announced it would allow work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage.

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has given its approval to a measure which seeks to move the election of statewide constitutional officers to even numbered years.  

Stu Johnson

The Senate Education Committee Thursday approved requiring abstinence education as a part of any human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases curriculum in public schools.  The debate in committee partly focused on how much emphasis would be given to the topic in the classroom.

Early Action on Constitutional Amendment

Jan 10, 2018
Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate easily passed a bill supporting a constitutional amendment Wednesday to create a victims’ bill of rights. Typically, general assembly changes to the state constitution come later in the session. 

Senate President Robert Stivers says he could envision four such amendments winning approval.  If so, the Clay County lawmaker says that would break precedent. “I can’t remember, I honestly, in my career I can’t remember us having really more than two,” said Stivers.

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation calling for a Constitutional amendment concerning victims’ rights. Kentucky’s version of Marcy’s Law passed the senate in 2016, but failed to make it to the House floor.

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