State Capitol

12:27pm

Thu May 10, 2012
State Capitol

Local Sales Tax Talk

Despite heavy odds against her in the state senate, a Lexington lawmaker thinks Kentucky cities should be allowed to levy a local sales tax.  Democrat Kathy Stein told Lexington council members this week such a tax would benefit local government.  “I’m sure that studies could be done to make sure that anything that we did would not harm our tourism business…but I can’t imagine that a penny here or a penny there would harm things…but it would certainly add up in our coffers,” said Stein.

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4:04pm

Thu May 3, 2012
State Capitol

Drug Group Sets Record for Lobbying Expenses

A lobbying group for various drug manufacturers has set a record for money spent during a Kentucky legislative session. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent nearly half a million dollars between January and March lobbying against a bill aimed at curbing meth production by limiting pseudoephedrine purchases. According to the Legislative Branch Ethics Commission, that’s a new yearly record,  and there’s still one month of accounting left to do. Further, the group’s advertising expenses weren’t included, meaning the CHPA likely spent  millions fighting the bill, which ultimately passed.

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12:36pm

Thu May 3, 2012
State Capitol

If Court Agrees, Governor Ready to Act on Health Reforms

A key part of the Affordable Care Act will be implemented by executive order in Kentucky, if the healthcare law is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Exchanges in which residents can purchase insurance are a major part of the law. Each state must have an exchange, and if states don't set them up, the federal government will.

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3:55pm

Wed May 2, 2012
State Capitol

Battle over ALEC Reaches Commonwealth

A national battle between two legislative groups has reached Kentucky. The advocacy group Common Cause is asking federal agencies to remove the non-profit tax-exempt status of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.  ALEC provides lawmakers with sample legislation and talking points, often to promote conservative issues, and Common Cause says the organization is a lobbying group.

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1:31pm

Wed May 2, 2012
State Capitol

Budget Cuts Delay Justice

For the first time in a generation, Kentucky courts will temporarily close due to budget cuts. All state court employees will be furloughed on August 6, September 4, and October 15 of this year. Chief Justice John Minton says except for holidays, this will be the first time since 1976 that the courts have closed.

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2:11pm

Tue May 1, 2012
State Capitol

Bill Supporting Foster Children Signed by Beshear

Gov. Steve Beshear, joined by bill-sponsor Sen. Ken Winters, children’s advocates and former foster youths, Monday signed a bill that will enhance protections and support for foster children as they transition to adulthood. “These are some of our most vulnerable kids – those who are moving from state-sponsored care to the responsibility of adulthood, and we must give them the best chance for a successful transition,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office.

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1:37pm

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

Former Ag Commissioner Accused of Criminal Misdeeds

An audit of former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's administration has revealed multiple abuses of state resources. The report says the former University of Kentucky basketball star illegally hired friends and family, used department resources for Christmas gifts and made state employees mow his yard and build a basketball court at his home on state time.

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10:01am

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

State Audit Bashes Former Ag Commissioner

An audit of Richie Farmer's two terms as Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner has revealed a toxic culture of entitlement and an extravagant misuse of taxpayers dollars, state employees and time. Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer requested the audit earlier this year. State Auditor Adam Edelen released his final report today, showing more than a dozen infractions by Farmer and a consistent abuse of state law.

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12:00am

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

Young Turks Make Run at General Assembly

Two 24-year-old Democrats from opposite ends of the Commonwealth hope to be the newest and youngest members of the General Assembly next year. Kendrick Bryan is from Elizabethtown and hopes to unseat longtime lawmaker Jimmie Lee. Tyler Murphy is from Greenup County and is challenging state representative Tonya Pullin. Bryan and Murphy’s bids for office come after a trio of young Republicans in their 20s successfully ran for the state House two years ago.

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11:48am

Fri April 27, 2012
State Capitol

College Loan Rates Concern Kentucky Governor

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is adding his voice to one of President Barack Obama’s top campaign issues. The president spoke at two college campuses this week urging Congress to prevent an automatic rate hike in interest on student loans from taking effect. Now, Beshear has penned a letter to all six members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, asking for them to take action to block the increase.

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4:09pm

Wed April 25, 2012
State Capitol

Instant Racing Slots Ruling Due by Summer

A decision is expected within six weeks over whether Instant Racing is legal in Kentucky. The state’s Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case today. Instant Racing is a slots-like game that Kentucky racetracks hope to use to boost race purses. But the Family Foundation of Kentucky says the game isn’t pari-mutuel betting like horse racing, but instead is closer to a slot machine.

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12:08pm

Tue April 24, 2012
State Capitol

Pill Bill "Step in the Right Direction"

Kentucky lawmakers and Governor Steve Beshear are applauding the passage of a bill aimed at reducing prescription pill abuse. Beshear signed the pill bill today, inviting key legislators and law enforcement officers to take part in the ceremony. The new law isn’t as tough as some had hoped. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says changes can always be made later.

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8:53am

Mon April 23, 2012
State Capitol

Legislature Finally Goes Home

After spending 65 days in Frankfort, Kentucky lawmakers can once again point to strong new drug laws as their signature achievements. The General Assembly passed bills cracking down on synthetic drugs, prescription abuse and meth production.

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11:48am

Sun April 22, 2012
State Capitol

Special Session Officially Ends

The seventh straight special session in Frankfort has ended with agreements on a transportation budget and House Bill 1, dubbed the “pill mill bill.” The former survived after eleventh hour negotiations between the House and Senate produced a watered down compromise. The revised bill keeps KASPER, the state’s drug tracking database, under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and does not move it to the Attorney General’s office, as was originally planned.  But the bill guarantees funding for KASPER’s expansion.

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1:47pm

Fri April 20, 2012
State Capitol

State Auditor Vows Crackdown on Special Districts

State Auditor Adam Edelen plans in the near future to launch a "massive undertaking" to bring the state's special taxing districts to heel, but he's going to need your help to do it. That's the message he brought to the Henderson Rotary Club Thursday. There are 45 different categories of special taxing districts governed by about 50 different state laws, he said. "We're going to find out who has been audited as they should be by law and who has not filed the proper documentation with the Department of Local Government."

3:56pm

Thu April 19, 2012
State Capitol

Senate Committee Restores Vetoed Projects

A Kentucky Senate committee’s amendment to the state transportation budget could take the special session off course. Lawmakers are in special session in part to pass a funding mechanism for the state road plan. But Senate President David Williams declined to take up the issue until Governor Steve Beshear acted on the unfunded road plan that passed previously. Beshear did so this week, issuing line item vetoes that make projects in Williams’s district a lower priority for the state.

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3:49pm

Thu April 19, 2012
State Capitol

Pill Bill Delayed Again in Senate

A bill aimed at cracking down on prescription pill abuse could be stalled once again in the Kentucky Senate. Senate leaders say they are still reviewing the bill, which would enhance the KASPER tracking system and make it part of the attorney general’s office. The chamber is taking an extra day to look over the bill and has scheduled a committee meeting for tomorrow, what was supposed to be the last day of the special session.

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2:13pm

Thu April 19, 2012
State Capitol

Senate has Concerns About Passing Pill Bill

The Democratic-led House passed a measure Wednesday that supporters hope will curtail Kentucky's prescription pill addiction, but the bill's future in the Republican-led Senate remains uncertain. House Bill 1 would allow only doctors to own pain clinics and would move the state's prescription electronic monitoring system from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to Attorney General Jack Conway's office. But many of the "no" votes in the House, where the bill passed 70-28, were cast by Republicans, who questioned whether the attorney general's office was given too much power over the state's doctors.

6:22am

Thu April 19, 2012
State Capitol

Williams Sees End to Special Session

Kentucky Senate President David Williams says Governor Steve Beshear’s latest action on the state road plan will not lead to an extended special session.  Governor Steve Beshear has changed the two-year road plan to give projects in Williams’s district a lower priority. Those were the only modifications the governor made.  Williams had promised not to consider a bill to fund the road plan until Beshear acted on the unfunded measure. Despite his displeasure with Beshear’s move, Williams says the Senate will approve a funding bill and should adjourn the special session within five days.

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4:50pm

Wed April 18, 2012
State Capitol

Senate Could Finish Special Session Friday

After reviewing nearly 400 pages of road project legislation, Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday exercised his line-item veto authority, returning some projects to their original funding sources in order to restore fairness and equity to the Road Plan legislation. Wednesday’s action on the Road Plan also eliminates the Senate’s single stated reason for not passing the Transportation budget, according to a press release from the governor's office.

4:37pm

Wed April 18, 2012
State Capitol

Williams' District Draws Road Vetoes

Governor Steve Beshear signed Kentucky’s six-year road plan this afternoon and vetoed several projects in the state's two-year road plan. According to a release from Beshear’s office, the line item vetoes in the two-year plan are only in Senate President David Williams' district. This comes on the heels of a public feud between the two politicians, with both accusing the other of political posturing. The governor's office says the vetoes were necessary because Williams moved his projects to the front of the line. Beshear says the vetoes weren't politically motivated and do not remove any projects from the plan, but rather make some of the projects in Williams’s district a lower priority, in the interest of fairness to other districts.

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2:49pm

Wed April 18, 2012
State Capitol

House Again Approves Funding for Road Projects

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed both bills on its agenda for this year’s special session. House lawmakers approved both the road plan funding bill and a measure to crack down on prescription pill abuse today by wide margins. The more contentious of the two bills was the prescription pill legislation. The House and Senate reached a compromise at the end of the regular session, but the House chose to introduce the original and tougher form for the special session.

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9:33am

Wed April 18, 2012
State Capitol

House to Vote on Transportation, Pill Bills

The House is set to vote Wednesday on a more than $4.5 billion transportation budget bill and a measure aimed at curbing prescription pain pill abuse after the proposals cleared separate committees on Tuesday. House Bill 2, the transportation operating budget, and House Bill 1, the prescription drug measure, are the sole pieces of legislation to be considered in the special legislative session that started Monday. It's unclear how long the special session will last.

6:25am

Wed April 18, 2012
State Capitol

Bridge Tolls Back in the Legislative Debate

The prospect of bridge tolls is once again dominating the discussion of an infrastructure bill in the Kentucky General Assembly.  The House Budget Committee passed a road plan funding bill Tuesday.  But before voting, lawmakers questioned the need for tolls on bridges in Louisville and Northern Kentucky.  Committee members asked whether the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville would be tolled to help fund new spans downtown and in the city's east end. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says that was discussed, but it’s unlikely.

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3:36pm

Tue April 17, 2012
State Capitol

Transportation Funding Restarts Tolling Debates

The prospect of bridge tolls is once again dominating the discussion of an infrastructure bill in the Kentucky General Assembly. The House Budget Committee passed a road plan funding bill today. But before voting, lawmakers questioned the need for tolls on bridges in Louisville and Northern Kentucky. Committee members asked whether the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville would be tolled to help fund new spans downtown and in the city's east end. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says that was discussed, but it’s unlikely.

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2:36pm

Tue April 17, 2012
State Capitol

Williams Asks Beshear to Act on Road Plan

Kentucky Senate President David Williams is renewing his call for Governor Steve Beshear to act quickly on an unfunded road plan that cleared the legislature last week. The road plan outlines the state’s transportation projects for the coming years. Beshear called lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session after they failed to approve funding for the latest plan. The Senate gaveled in the first day of the special session Monday afternoon, introducing four bills.

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4:51pm

Mon April 16, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Signs Bill to Benefit Veterans

Gov. Steve Beshear, surrounded by veterans and lawmakers, signed into law several bills benefitting Kentucky veterans and families of the Kentucky National Guard. The bills include House Bill 121, HB 221, HB 224, HB 256, HB 369 and HB 379. “These bills address several serious concerns affecting Kentucky's citizen soldiers and our veterans,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “I thank and congratulate the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Military Affairs, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky's circuit court clerks, the Tourism Cabinet and lawmakers for their cooperation and hard work in making all of these initiatives a reality.”

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1:27pm

Mon April 16, 2012
State Capitol

Special Session Convenes; No End in Sight

Kentucky lawmakers have returned to the capitol for a special session, and it's not clear how long they'll remain in Frankfort to finish their work. The House gaveled in at noon today and quickly filed two bills. One measure cracks down on prescription pill abuse and another funds the state road plan. Neither measure cleared the General Assembly during the regular session this year. And House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber will work quickly to pass the bills.

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12:00am

Mon April 16, 2012
State Capitol

Special Session Begins

Kentucky lawmakers are returning to Frankfort today to begin a special session called by Governor Steve Beshear. Beshear has ordered lawmakers to take up a funding bill for the state’s road plan and one addressing prescription pill abuse. Those were the two major bills that died in the final hours of the 2012 regular session last week. Beshear says passing those bills should only take lawmakers five days.

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12:00am

Mon April 16, 2012
State Capitol

Legislative Rivalry Could Influence Elections

Kentucky lawmakers will begin a special session today that could become election fodder for legislative candidates on both sides of the aisle this fall. This is the seventh straight year lawmakers have gone into special session, which costs the state sixty thousand dollars a day to fund. And Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams are locked in a stalemate over the state’s road plan template.

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