Should 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds face criminal charges? In 2009 and 2010, complaints were filed against at least 748 Kentucky children younger than 11 for offenses that included being out of control, minor injury assaults and criminal mischief. Sixty-three of those children were ages 5, 6, and 7, according to a 2011 Herald-Leader analysis of state records. Eight of those children were 5 years old. State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, last week introduced House Bill 143, which would prohibit children 10 or younger from being charged with criminal offenses. Instead, those children could be found neglected or dependent on the state for services.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced her communications staff Monday, appointing Lynn Sowards Zellen to serve as her chief spokeswoman. The Lexington attorney will coordinate office communications, respond to media inquiries and devote attention to legislative initiatives related to the secretary of state’s office. Zellen worked as a business litigation attorney, advocating for clients before courts across the commonwealth, including cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
It could be only a matter of days before Governor Steve Beshear unveils his plan for a constitutional amendment for expanded gambling. The governor has been in talks for weeks with Democratic and Republicans lawmakers about how to word the amendment to ensure it’s passed. In the Senate that means getting help from Republican state Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown.
The fight over making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription is heating up again in the Kentucky legislature. The state Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the bill on Thursday morning. Last week, senators made passionate speeches on the chamber floor in favor of the bill. The idea is supported by most of Senate leadership, as well as Kentucky State Police. But the Consumer Healthcare Products Association says the bill is too restrictive on the average family.
An attempt to add the University of Pikeville to the commonwealth’s public university system has slowed amid a flurry of technical questions. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is leading the attempt to make the private UPIKE Kentucky’s ninth state university. If UPIKE is accepted into the state system, the commonwealth would control all of the school's assets, including campus property. But former Kentucky Governor and current UPIKE President Paul Patton wants to know if the university will get the assets back if state funding falls through.
Senate President David Williams is staying out of the mud when it comes to commenting on Governor Steve Beshear’s new tax commission. Williams proposed his own commission last legislative session. It would have included tax experts, economists and others and charged them with completely re-writing Kentucky's tax code. The new tax code would then be subjected to an up or down vote in each chamber of the General Assembly.
The Kentucky House of Representatives has hit a road block in drawing new district lines for state lawmakers. After planning to release and vote on a new House redistricting map first thing this week, chamber leaders had to delay a committee meeting until at least Tuesday.
A state Senator from Louisville has come under fire for trying to legislate that the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville play each other in basketball and football. Democratic Senator Tim Shaughnessy has filed a bill that includes language that requires UK and U of L to play each other every year. But Shaughnessy says that’s not the point of his bill.
UK coach John Calipari and UK President Eli Capilouto visited Frankfort Thursday to meet with state legislatgors. Calipari, for one, came to talk to lawmakers about UK's need for new academic buildings. He was the big draw, signing basketballs and taking pictures with various legislators before he told them about UK's construction needs amid a campus full of aging buildings.
A push to crack down on drug abuse in Kentucky’ has re-opened old disputes in the state Senate. Governor Steve Beshear has promised to propose comprehensive anti-drug legislation this session. One Republican senator, Robert Stivers of Manchester, says he agrees with the governor’s plan, but wants to add one provision. Stivers wants a bill that would make pseudoephedrine—a key part of over-the-counter cold medicines and meth production—available by prescription-only to pass the General Assembly as well.
No Kentucky state agencies or budget line items are safe this year, according to House Budget Chairman Rick Rand. In the past few budgets, education funding has been largely protected from cuts. But now, there’s little left to trim in many state agencies, leaving everything on the table. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has warned that pending cuts to the state budget will be painful. Beshear hasn't given any indication of how painful the cuts will be, but Rand has an idea.
The Kentucky House of Representatives took the first step toward passing new redistricting maps today. The House State Government Committee passed a new congressional district map penned by House Speaker Greg Stumbo. The map would put Owensboro in the 1st District and Ashland in the 5th District. It also splits seven counties: Jefferson, Jessamine, Allen, Whitley, Pulaksi, Bullitt and Scott.
After weeks of hinting about tax reform, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has provided some details. The governor announced the creation of a blue ribbon tax commission tonight in Lexington and the annual Chamber Day dinner put on by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Gov. Steve Beshear projected deep cuts in the next two-year state budget, pushed for a constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling and called for overhauling the state's tax structure in his fifth State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday. The cuts could be as deep as 7 percent to 9 percent during the next two years, state officials said. Beshear, speaking before a joint session of the House and Senate, asked legislators to be "decisive and aggressive" and to take bold steps to fix the state's finances, better prepare its work force and attack Kentuckians' addictions to prescription drugs.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo hopes to crack down on doctors who over prescribe pain medications by moving the statewide prescription monitoring system to a law-enforcement agency. Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Wednesday that he soon would file a bill to transfer the state's Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System, known as KASPER, from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to Attorney General Jack Conway's office.
Governor Steve Beshear’s chief legislative rival is still waiting to see the meat of the governor’s 2012 legislative agenda. After the governor’s annual State of the Commonwealth address, Republican Senate President David Williams told reporters he gives Beshear credit for delivering a “pleasant speech,” but he’s still waiting to hear the details on proposals like expanded gambling, tax reform and other important issues to the governor.
As Kentucky faces it’s most difficult budget yet, a new education coalition is calling for even more early education funding. The Kentucky Education Action Team is made up of well-know education associations, including the Kentucky Education Association and groups representing administratiors, teachers, parents and school boards and councils. In a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda today, they made a case for an increase in SEEK funding back to 2008 levels.
Regina Bunch spent much of her first afternoon as the newest member of the Kentucky House of Representatives receiving congratulations and words of encouragement from the chamber's other 99 members. "Their generosity is just humbling," Bunch said of the warm reception she received Tuesday from Republicans and Democrats. The seventh-grade teacher at Whitley County Middle School never wanted to seek public office. Her husband, Dewayne Bunch, resigned his seat last year after being injured during a fight at Whitley County High School. Dewayne Bunch, a math and science teacher at the school, had stepped in to stop a fight between two students in April and suffered serious head injuries.
By Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald Leader & Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentucky House and Senate leaders said Tuesday, the opening day of the 2012 General Assembly, that they hope to approve changes to the boundaries of state legislative and congressional districts early in the session. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he would like the Democratic-controlled House to pass its redistricting plan by early next week.
An agenda laden with redrawing political boundaries, a tough state budget and many other issues greeted state legislators as they convened Tuesday for the first day of the three-month regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. “This is my sixth year, and this is probably the biggest agenda of issues that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said state Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger. “Hopefully the spirit of cooperation exists, and we can plow through a lot of this stuff.”
The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly is starting its 60-day budget session with a laundry list of issues to work out. The highlights are obvious: gambling, the budget, and redrawing congressional districts. Lawmakers must also figure out how to shore up the state's unemployment insurance and deal with Medicaid managed care problems. And there are always pet projects, like the debate over pseudophedrine, various constitutional amendments and more.
When noon EST rolls around today, the state Capitol in Frankfort could resemble a different Kentucky icon: the starting gate at a horse race. Once the House and Senate kick off the 2012 General Assembly Tuesday, the legislature will officially have 60 days to try to address 200 bills filed ahead of the session and craft a budget that takes into account a shortfall believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Additionally, they’ll need to find time to fulfill their constitutional obligation of redistricting congressional and senatorial lines, a process that could hinder the regular session or require a special session.
The debate over charter schools is one Kentucky educators and legislators have heard and argued over for the last several years. But supporters of the education reform feel one party left out of those discussions is ready to be brought into the fold. A newly formed group called Kentuckians Advocating Reforms in Education(KARE) is launching TV ad buys across the commonwealth today to educate the general public about charter schools. KARE has spent $8,950 to air the ad on WLKY in Louisville. Former Metro Councilman and Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner is the group’s chairman.
By Charles Compton, WEKU & Kentucky Educational Television
Work redrawing Kentucky’s legislative districts should begin today, just after the General Assembly convenes for its 2012 regular session. Last night on Kentucky Educational Television, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the lower house is nearly ready with its proposal.
For the second straight year, it’s all about jobs for Gov. Steve Beshear. “Attracting and protecting jobs” topped the list of his most notable accomplishments in 2011, which his office released Wednesday. Beshear has released a year-end list of his top accomplishments for the past few years, said spokeswoman Kerri Richardson. “It’s a good way for us to look back and review,” Richardson said. Beshear said that, thanks to the work of the state economic development office, there was an investment of more than $2.6 billion that could lead to 13,178 jobs created or retained.
Although he acknowledges methamphetamine manufacturing is a "growing problem" in Scott County, one local lawmaker said he would oppose legislation some lawmakers believe will stem the tide of the homemade drug. Among the bills prefiled for the General Assembly's 2012 session, three address the sale of psuedophedrine, an active ingredient used in the production of methamphetamine, but state Sen. Damon Thayer-R. Georgetown, said he will support only one of them.
Governor Beshear says a study of the feasibility of adding the University of Pikeville to the state public system will begin in the weeks ahead. The governor’s office will issue a request for proposals this week to hire a consultant to lead the review. Spokeswoman for the governor, Kerri Richardson says it will be a 360 degree look at the issue.
Several bills pre-filed by lawmakers ahead of the Kentucky General Assembly's regular session next month deal with either drug use among recipients of state and federal funds, or limiting access to illegal drugs. A new version of District 36 Rep. Lonnie Napier's amendment requiring drug testing for people seeking public assistance, including food stamps, has been submitted for consideration after a similar bill was killed in committee previously. He said he expects a different outcome once the legislature returns Jan. 3.
Former Harlan County Judge-Executive Delzinna Belcher has been appointed as magistrate for District 5 by Gov. Steve Beshear. The seat has stood vacant since magistrate Jimmy Roark passed away in September. Belcher said she won't seek election to the seat in November 2012.