State Capitol

4:54am

Thu February 9, 2012
State Capitol

Senate Passes Dropout Bill

A proposal to raise Kentucky’s dropout age to 18 years old has passed a major hurdle.  The state Senate approved a bill today that allows individual school districts to decide whether to raise the dropout age and requires participating schools to have alternative education programs. The bill passed overwhelming, 35-2, with two Democratic senators voting against because of the local option.

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2:27pm

Wed February 8, 2012
State Capitol

Juvenile Justice has Acting Deputy Commissioner

Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown has named an acting deputy commissioner for the Department of Juvenile Justice. The position has been vacant since the beginning of the year. It will now be filled by Diana McGuire. McGuire served as division director for the department since 2001. She was responsible for overall administration of the Eastern Region Division for Juvenile Justice.

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5:08am

Wed February 8, 2012
State Capitol

Lawmakers React to Redistricting Decision

A Franklin Circuit Court judge has thrown out new legislative district maps, saying they violate the basic principles of the Kentucky Constitution.  Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling is based on the so-called “five percent rule.” It says new districts must be within five percent of their ideal size. Shepherd added that the maps of both the House and Senate districts divided too many counties.  Shepherd also extended the deadline for candidates to file to run for the General Assembly until Friday. Unless the ruling is overturned or new districts are drafted, candidates will run in the current districts.

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3:31pm

Tue February 7, 2012
State Capitol

Students Rally for Higher Education Funding

Students from all eight of Kentucky’s public universities have once again descended on Frankfort with a familiar message… stop cutting higher education. At the annual Rally for Higher Education today, the messages were familiar. Students called on lawmakers to restore or increase funding for higher education. In one of the toughest budget cycles yet, that call is once again likely to go unanswered.

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12:22pm

Tue February 7, 2012
State Capitol

Continuing Concerns over National Foreclosure Settlement

More than 40 U.S. states have agreed to a nationwide settlement over foreclosure abuses. The deal would force the five largest mortgage lenders to reduce loans for about 1 million households. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway questions the settlement, saying he still has concerns about how mortgage loans are recorded and mortgage-backed securities. 

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11:07am

Tue February 7, 2012
State Capitol

Foreign Trade Deal Threatens Tobacco Exports

Kentucky lawmakers are protesting a current trade agreement that they say would hurt tobacco. The U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which includes countries like New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam. But the lawmakers say the proposal excludes tobacco protections. At a news conference in Frankfort today, Democratic and Republican lawmakers urged President Barack Obama to add provisions for tobacco to the agreement.

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11:01am

Tue February 7, 2012
State Capitol

Saving Money on Special Elections

Changes to Kentucky's special elections procedures could be imminent. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is supporting a bill to reduce the number of polling places for uncontested special elections for legislative seats. Grimes says the change will save money for her office, county clerks and taxpayers.

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7:58am

Tue February 7, 2012
State Capitol

Congressional Lines Still in Doubt

Kentucky lawmakers are struggling to finalize new Congressional districts.  Both chambers approved new maps of the districts last month and have been in a conference committee for weeks to work out the differences. Last week, legislative leaders thought they were close to an agreement that would leave the maps relatively unchanged, but no compromise was made.

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4:26pm

Mon February 6, 2012
State Capitol

Judge Again Delays Decision on Filing Deadline

After a nearly three-hour hearing Monday on a legal challenge of Kentucky's new legislative district boundaries, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said he hopes to rule within a day or two so an appeal can occur quickly. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said if he does not rule by late Tuesday, he will extend a restraining order he issued last week that moved the election filing deadline for legislative candidates from Jan. 31 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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4:23pm

Mon February 6, 2012
State Capitol

Officials Urge Passage of Prescription Drug Legislation

Governor Steve Beshear and other state officials are touting a legislative proposal that focuses on fighting prescription drug abuse. House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed House Bill 4 last week calling for tougher restrictions on pain management clinics and better use of the state’s prescription monitoring system, and other lawmakers have filed similar bills.

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12:01pm

Mon February 6, 2012
State Capitol

Legislative Redistricting During Budget Times

For weeks, negotiations between Senate Republicans and House Democrats over new legislative, judicial and congressional districts have diverted their attention. Time spent on those tasks is time not spent on budget writing.  But, despite the delays and hard feelings, legislative leaders still say they can agree on a new budget.

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7:32am

Mon February 6, 2012
State Capitol

Redistricting in a Budget Session

    For weeks, negotiations between Senate Republicans and House Democrats over new legislative, judicial and congressional districts have diverted their attention. Time spent on those tasks is time not spent on budget writing.  But, despite the delays and hard feelings, legislative leaders still say they can agree on a new budget.

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6:00am

Mon February 6, 2012
State Capitol

A Bourbon Barrel Tax Break

Kentucky’s bourbon distillers may soon be getting one of their biggest wishes… a change in the barrel tax. The tax, named because it charges property taxes on bourbon aging in barrels in distillery warehouses, is one of its kind. But other alcoholic beverages made it the commonwealth aren’t subject to the same taxes, Beshear says. “It is the only such tax in the world and it’s not assessed in Kentucky on any other alcoholic beverage such as beer, vodka or scotch whiskey,” he said.

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2:07pm

Fri February 3, 2012
State Capitol

Drug Ring Suspects Rounded Up

Sheriff’s deputies have rounded up 22 of the 28 suspects indicted Wednesday for engaging in organized crime – becoming the second alleged drug ring with connections to the Florida-to-Franklin County pill pipeline. Over 12 months this ring imported about 36,000 pills – with a total street value of more than $900,000 – into Franklin County, Sheriff Pat Melton said during a press conference Thursday.

6:04pm

Thu February 2, 2012
State Capitol

Illegal Pain Clinics Target of House Bill

A bill to crack down on illegal pain clinics has been introduced in the Kentucky House. Governor Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, all Democrats, collaborated on the bill. It would transfer the operation of KASPER, a statewide pill tracking system, to the Attorney General’s office. It would also require all doctors practicing in Kentucky to use the system.

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4:17pm

Thu February 2, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Encouraged with Senate Dropout Bill

Governor Steve Beshear is warming to a modified proposal to raise the high school dropout age. Beshear has long pushed to raise the dropout age to 18. The Senate Education Committee passed a bill today that lets individual school boards opt in to a higher dropout age. It also requires those boards to provide the Kentucky Department of Education with proof that a solid alternative program exists in their districts.

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2:23pm

Thu February 2, 2012
State Capitol

Special Diploma Bill Passes Senate

A bill that would grant special-needs students a diploma instead of a certificate of completion for graduating high school unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday. The alternative high school diploma is mainly an honorary gesture and wouldn’t change the students’ graduation requirements, and employers will still be able to tell that a graduate has certain limitations, said Senate Bill 43 sponsor Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown. However, Parrett said calling the accolade a diploma instead of certificate will help improve special-needs students’ self-esteem.

2:20pm

Thu February 2, 2012
State Capitol

Prescription Abuse Top Priority for Beshear

Curbing Kentucky's increasing problem with prescription-drug abuse will be one of the top priorities of the current legislative session, Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday. Beshear said a bill will be introduced soon that will call for tighter controls on pain clinics and wider use of the state's prescription-monitoring system, among other things. One goal will be to crack down on so-called "pill mills" — offices where doctors give prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other drugs to addicts, usually with little or no real physical examination.

2:05pm

Thu February 2, 2012
State Capitol

A Three-Day Weekend for the Legislature

Kentucky lawmakers are giving themselves another long weekend by taking tomorrow off. And one legislator is blaming the filing deadline for the break. Candidates have until Tuesday to file to run for the General Assembly. A judge pushed back the deadline back earlier this week so he could further consider the constitutionality of new district maps

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11:03am

Wed February 1, 2012
State Capitol

Tax Amnesty Up for Consideration

Amnesty could again be granted to Kentucky’s delinquent taxpayers.   State Budget Director Mary Lassiter says it’s been ten years since Kentucky last offered such a reprieve.  Once the amnesty period expires, Lassiter says delinquent taxpayers will feel the full force of the law.

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9:48am

Wed February 1, 2012
State Capitol

Prosecutors Warn of Layoffs

The state's prosecutors warned lawmakers Tuesday that they will have to lay off or furlough workers under Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed two-year state budget. "We've got two options — layoffs or furloughs," said Chris Cohron, the commonwealth's attorney for Warren County and legislative chair for the state's commonwealth's attorney association.

8:20am

Wed February 1, 2012
State Capitol

Kentucky A-G Wants Funding Restored

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway would like see lawmakers increase funding for his agency by about four million dollars more than what’s recommended by the governor.  The A-G appeared before the House Budget Subcommittee Tuesday.  Conway asked members of the legislative panel to consider restoring funding to the 14 million dollars allocated in 2008.  If the governor’s plan is passed, Conway says layoffs are possible.

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5:30am

Wed February 1, 2012
State Capitol

Lexington Senator Reacts to Court Ruling

 Kentucky Senator Kathy Stein is celebrating a judge's decision to delay the filing deadline for candidates for the General Assembly.  Stein was drawn out of her Lexington district when the Senate drafted new maps to reflect changes in population. She filed suit, arguing the new maps are unconstitutional.  Today , a judge delayed the deadline for candidates to file so he can further review the case. Stein agrees the issue deserves more study.

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5:14am

Wed February 1, 2012
State Capitol

Filing Deadline Pushed Back

A Franklin Circuit Court judge has pushed back the filling deadline for state legislative candidates.
In response to a lawsuit claiming the new redistricting maps are unconstitutional, Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a restraining order moving the deadline back one week. Shepherd also set a hearing on the constitutionality argument for Monday morning.

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2:59pm

Tue January 31, 2012
State Capitol

WEKU News on Twitter

Get the news updates from the state capitol and from around the Commonwealth by following WEKU News on Twitter.

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2:20pm

Tue January 31, 2012
State Capitol

Explaining the Budget's Haves and Have-Nots

While most of state agencies face spending cuts of more than eight-percent, the governor wants to spend more on the Kentucky Horse Park and the State Fair Board in the current year.  State Budget Director Mary Lassiter today explained their reasons to the Senate Budget Committee. Lassiter was quizzed by Lebanon Senator Jimmy Higdon, who asked her about the nine-million dollar spending increase.

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2:06pm

Tue January 31, 2012
State Capitol

Eastern Kentucky Veteran Retires from Senate

Redistricting in the Kentucky Senate has claimed another Democrat: Walter Blevins. The outspoken but soft-spoken senator will not seek re-election in the district he's been drawn into with Republican Senator Robert Stivers. “This is my 31st year," Blevins says. "It’s just time to try something different. Look at my options, see what I’ve got. Of course I’ve also been through cancer this past year and married to a lovely wife and I want to spend time with her.”

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11:19am

Tue January 31, 2012
State Capitol

Tax Reforms Back on Table in Frankfort

As the wheels slowly turn on Governor Steve Beshear’s tax commission, observers are wondering what changed the governor’s mind on taxes in the first place. All last year the governor said he wasn’t in favor of changing the tax code during a recession, while his opponent David Williams constantly advocated for it. But after his re-election, the governor created a new commission to study the issue. Beshear says it wasn’t a change at all.

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12:00am

Mon January 30, 2012
State Capitol

Congressional Redistricting Progresses

After two weeks of no movement, legislative leaders are hopeful they’ll reach a compromise on Congressional redistricting soon. That hope is the reason they’re giving for extending the filing deadline until February 7th, as the General Assembly did last week. State Senator Damon Thayer says so far, the problem has been wildly different approaches to drawing new maps.

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12:00am

Mon January 30, 2012
State Capitol

Pseudoephedrine Debate Gets Personal

The debate over how to regulate pseudoephedrine is becoming more polarized. Lawmakers are wrestling with the idea of whether to make the drug, known as PSE, available by prescription only. Law enforcement supports that idea, while health care and citizen groups don’t. The debate has led one state Senator to dial back his leadership on the issue due to personal attacks. But Senator Tom Jensen says he’s going to continue to advocate to make PSE prescription only.

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