State Capitol

3:20pm

Fri February 24, 2012
State Capitol

Judge Speeds Release of Child Abuse Records

A judge has ordered the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to continue releasing complete child abuse records, but the Cabinet is likely to continue redacting information in those records pending an appeals court ruling. Earlier this year, Judge Phillip Shepherd made a final order for the Cabinet to release thousands of pages of child abuse records. Because it was a final order, the Cabinet appealed the decision. Shepherd has now changed his ruling to keep the matter in his court, and to keep the records moving.

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2:59pm

Fri February 24, 2012
State Capitol

Supreme Court Throws out New Kentucky Districts

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the latest maps of state legislative districts are unconstitutional. Lawmakers approved new lines for state House and Senate districts earlier this year. But a circuit court judge declared them unconstitutional, citing a precedent that districts can’t be more than five percent larger or smaller than their ideal size. Lawyers for the Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the ruling on behalf of House and Senate leadership.

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12:13pm

Fri February 24, 2012
State Capitol

Kentucky Supreme Court Hearing Redistricting

The fight over redistricting has moved to the Kentucky Supreme Court.  Lawmakers approved new lines for state House and Senate districts earlier this year. But a judge declared them unconstitutional, citing a precedent that districts can’t be more than five percent larger or smaller than their ideal size. Lawyers for the Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the ruling.

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5:27am

Fri February 24, 2012
State Capitol

Stivers Withdraws PSE Bill

A Senate bill that would have made pseudoephedrine available by prescription only has surprisingly been killed by its sponsor. State Senator Robert Stivers withdrew Senate Bill 50 Thursday, to the objection of several of his colleagues. Pseudoephedrine, or PSE, is a key ingredient in both over-the-counter cold medicines and meth. The bill was meant to curtail meth production by restricting pseudoephedrine sales.

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5:24pm

Thu February 23, 2012
State Capitol

Gambling Amendment Dies in State Senate

The Kentucky Senate has rejected a measure that would amend the state constitution to legalize casinos in Kentucky. The issue has long been a legislative priority of Governor Steve Beshear, and this year was the first in which he attempted to expand gambling by amending the constitution. The bill cleared committee yesterday, but failed on the Senate floor with a vote of 16-21.

12:08pm

Thu February 23, 2012
State Capitol

Animal Rescuers Rallying at the Capitol

Kentucky lawmakers were reminded today of a 96 dog rescue in western Kentucky.  The animals were retrieved in the community of Wingo through the efforts of Animal Rescue Corps.  Corps President Scotlund Haisley was at the state capitol today for ‘Humane Lobby Day.’

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4:21pm

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Supporters Rally for Statewide Anti-Discrimination Law

The Fairness Coalition in Kentucky is continuing its push for a statewide anti-discrimination law. The coalition held a rally in Frankfort on Wednesday to urge state lawmakers to favor legislation that would bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, online the cities of Louisville, Lexington and Covington have laws giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals civil rights protections.

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4:16pm

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Limits on State Debt Poised to Pass

Kentucky lawmakers are once again ready to approve a bill capping the state’s debt at six percent of revenues. The issue has been in and out of committee multiple times this session. It started as a constitutional amendment, then changed to a regular bill. And state Senators have renamed the measure to show their commitment to it. It is now called Senate Bill 1.

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3:50pm

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Senate Gives Gambling Amendment First Win

Governor Steve Beshear’s constitutional amendment to legalize casinos in Kentucky has cleared its first legislative hurdle. The bill passed the Senate's State and Local Government committee 7-4 today. The measure would allow up to seven casinos in Kentucky. But the committee changed the bill, dropping language that requires five of the casinos to be at horse racing tracks. The measure still requires a 60-mile buffer zone between tracks and independent casinos.

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8:27am

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Compromise Drop Out Bill Heads to House Floor

The chairman of the House Education Committee says his modifications to a dropout bill will help broker a compromise between the House and the Senate. Both chambers recently passed legislation effectively raising Kentucky’s high school dropout age, but there are key differences between the bills.  Currently, students can’t drop out of high school on their own until they’re 18 years old. But with parental consent, they can drop out at age 16.

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8:25am

Wed February 22, 2012
State Capitol

Expanded Gambling Vote Pending

Pastors and concerned citizens in Kentucky are taking their fight against expanded gambling directly to the Capitol. Led by the Reverend Hershel York, opponents of Governor Steve Beshear’s gambling amendment flooded Frankfort today in protest.  They filled hallways and lobbied legislators to vote no on the amendment, then gathered in the Rotunda for a larger rally.

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3:00am

Tue February 21, 2012
State Capitol

UPike Gets Its Day in Court (of Public Opinion)

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the plan to make the University of Pikeville the ninth state university will not be derailed by the hectic session.Stumbo is the main legislative supporter of the measure. And he says despite redistricting, expanded gambling legislation and other barriers or distractions, his bill will continue moving forward. The latest step is a hearing today in the House Education Committee.

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12:01am

Tue February 21, 2012
State Capitol

Compromise on "Amish Buggies" Near

A bill allowing Amish buggy drivers in Kentucky to use reflective tape instead of a state-mandated orange triangle is only a few steps away from becoming law. The state Senate passed a bill addressing the issue weeks ago. And a House committee passed its own version last week. There are a few differences in each chamber’s bill. The House wants 200 inches of white, two-inch-wide tape on the back of each buggy. The Senate version mandates 100 inches of red or white one-inch-wide tape.

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11:19am

Mon February 20, 2012
State Capitol

Legislative Term Limits Up for Discussion

A first term lawmaker from Louisville would like to see term limits set for each house of the legislature.  The measure, offered by Representative Mike Nemes , calls for a constitutional amendment.  If approved, it would require lawmakers to leave their chamber after 12 years. “It will somewhat rotate leadership so you won’t have leaders that possibly could be in charge for 20- 30 years and kind of run everything and the rank and file is kind of non-existent if that happens,” said Nemes.

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5:00am

Mon February 20, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Fraud Doesn't Pay, Yet

A bill that would allow Kentucky to collect money from Medicaid fraud busts has again been introduced in Frankfort. House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed the bill, which would also protect and possibly reward whistle blowers who report fraud in Medicaid or any other areas of state government. Stumbo says the bill is needed to help Kentucky get money that usually ends up in federal coffers.

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3:00am

Mon February 20, 2012
State Capitol

Secondhand Smoke Plagues Mrs. Kentucky

Advocates for a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are getting some high profile help. Mrs. Kentucky USA is lending her support to the measure this week. Kathy Polston-Dalton was born with a heart disease that flares up when she’s around secondhand smoke. She says a statewide smoking ban would alleviate problems she and others have with the disease.

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3:38pm

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Promotes Gaming Bill in Weekly Address

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear used his weekly YouTube address to promote the constitutional amendment to legalize expanded gaming in the state. Earlier this week, the governor and state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, unveiled thelegislation to allow gaming in up to seven locations across the commonwealth. The legislation would permit five casino’s at horse racetracks and two at stand-alone locations that must be at least 60 miles from the nearest racetrack.

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3:26pm

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

New Motions Filed in Redistricting Suit

Kentucky lawmakers who successfully sued to keep new district maps from taking effect have filed new motions with the state Supreme Court. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled two weeks ago that the maps of new House and Senate districts were unconstitutional because they weren’t in line with population variance numbers previously set by the Supreme Court. The Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the case.

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11:26am

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

Support for Restrictions on Constables Grows

A Senate bill that would give county governments more control over constables could have enough support to become law. Originally, both chambers pursued constitutional amendments to eliminate the office of constable altogether, spurred by several recent instances of constables abusing their power. But an agreement not to crowd the fall ballot with constitutional amendments led to the Senate proposal.

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6:12am

Fri February 17, 2012
State Capitol

Drop Out Bill Passes in House

A bill to raise Kentucky’s high school dropout age is making progress in Frankfort, but the state House and Senate may not be able to come to an agreement on the issue. The House passed it’s version of the dropout bill Thursday. It would remove loopholes that allow parents to let their children drop out of school before age 18.

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9:32am

Thu February 16, 2012
State Capitol

Casino Bill Sponsor Open to Changes

Sen. Damon Thayer.
Lexington Herald Leader

Changes may be coming to Gov. Steve Beshear's proposal for as many as seven casinos in Kentucky. Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he is open to revisions that address concerns raised after he introduced the constitutional amendment Tuesday. Some lawmakers were concerned that a casino might land in their community while others were upset about being excluded.

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5:23pm

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Mountain-Top Removal Protest

Mickey Inez, right, Thomas Madison, center, and Lisa Abbott carry the mountain's as they protest mountaintop removal Tuesday at the Capitol. The mountain, covered by pinwheels, was placed on the Governor's Mansion lawn.
Tricia Spaulding/The State-Journal

For the last several years on Valentine’s Day, hundreds have gathered at the Capitol to protest mountaintop removal mining, saying the process pollutes Kentucky’s waterways and causes health problems. Now they say they can prove it. “We finally have the peer-reviewed studies to back what we’ve been saying all along, that mountaintop removal’s been killing our people,” said Teri Blanton, a Berea resident and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, as she prepared for Tuesday’s rally at the Capitol.

3:26pm

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Embattled Constables Survive Another Day

Kentucky lawmakers are backing away from a measure that would eliminate the office of constable in every county. Every county has an elected constable. But in the last year, many constables have been accused of being either unnecessary or corrupt.  Originally, Senate Bill 30 was a constitutional amendment to eliminate constables. But the bill was unlikely to pass due to a gentlemen’s agreement in the legislature that each chamber would only push one amendment each session.

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3:24pm

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Managers Claim Bugs Nearly Fixed

Officials with Kentucky's Medicaid managed care organizations say they're on track to resolve any problems with reimbursements to doctors and pharmacists.  CoventryCares, WellCare and Kentucky Spirit began administering Medicaid statewide last fall, and they're off to a rocky start. Executives with the three organizations are in Frankfort this week for a series of committee hearings. Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers spent previous weeks telling lawmakers horror stories about working with the MCOs. One such story included a pre-authorization to deliver a baby that didn't come through until weeks after the child was born.

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6:24am

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Bill's Eye: Gambling Amendment Introduced

The wait is over! A 131-word constitutional amendment to expand gambling in Kentucky was announced this morning by Republican Senator Damon Thayer and Democratic Governor Steve Beshear. Let the war of words on the expansion of casino-style gambling in the Commonwealth begin. Here is an excerpt released this morning from the governor’s press office: “We’ve been debating this issue in Frankfort for more than 15 years. The citizens of our state are clamoring to have their voices heard,” Gov. Beshear said. “Two recent polls show more than 80 percent of Kentuckians want to cast a ballot on gaming. Are we going to listen to them or not?”

5:30am

Wed February 15, 2012
State Capitol

Senate President's Take on Tax Reform

Kentucky Senate President David Williams has several criticisms for Governor Steve Beshear's recently-appointed tax commission.  Williams proposed creating such a commission during his bid for governor last year. But says Beshear’s commission lacks the guidance and experience to change Kentucky’s tax code. The Senate President says the majority of the commission is made up of Beshear’s friends and political allies.

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2:05pm

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

'I love Mountains Day' Protest

Ella Lemley-Fry, right, holds a flag as members of the Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji play the drums while chanting a prayer for peace Monday afternoon as they travel down U.S. 60 from Versailles into downtown Frankfort.
Tricia Spaulding/The State-Journal

Dozens of protesters have staged sit-ins outside the governor’s office leading up to “I Love Mountains Day,” but the last shift before today’s big rally went to Footprints for Peace. The group deserved a break – its members spent the last two weeks walking here from Eastern Kentucky. About a dozen people, hailing from New Jersey to rural Kentucky, spent the last 12 days walking from Prestonsburg to Frankfort – about 150 miles – to protest mountaintop removal mining.

10:00am

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

"First Audit" Uncovers Military, Horse Park Waste

The first statewide audit from new Auditor Adam Edelen has uncovered some familiar problems. Edelen is required to conduct an audit of all state agencies every year. His first report was released this morning. In it, Edelen takes many state agencies to task. That includes the Department of Military Affairs and the Kentucky Horse Park, which the report says incurred expensive and unnecessary fees for paying invoices too late.

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9:48am

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

Court Battle over Redistricting Costly

The battle over Kentucky's newly-drawn legislative districts went to the state Supreme Court on Monday at a potential cost of $220,000 in legal fees, most of that to be footed by taxpayers. The Legislative Research Commission, which represents House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams in defending the districts from a constitutional challenge, has budgeted $95,000 for Louisville attorney Sheryl Snyder, although it may end up paying less depending on how much work is necessary.

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9:09am

Tue February 14, 2012
State Capitol

Legislative Battle Over Gambling Resumes

FRANKFORT – Calling it “the best way to keep hundreds of millions of dollars here at home,” Gov. Steve Beshear and Sen. Damon Thayer Tuesday announced their plan to introduce an expanded gaming bill in the Senate today. The bill would authorize a statewide vote to amend the state’s constitution to allow expanded gaming in up to seven locations in Kentucky.

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