A new report measuring the level of equality afforded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans shows substantial improvements in the Kentucky cities measured, said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday released its second annual Municipal Equality Index, examining laws and policies that foster LGBT equality in nearly 300 American cities and awarded them points on a scale of 0-100.
Hemp supporters will rally in Washington D.C. today. They want Congress to lift a federal ban on the plant for industrial use. Earlier this year Kentucky lawmakers approved the research and cultivation of hemp. It has yet to be implemented because the federal government still considers the crop a controlled substance.
Public Protection Secretary Robert Vance has been honored for the "highest level" of ethical standards by a watchdog panel that oversees the behavior of executive branch staffers. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission recently presented Vance with the Livingston Taylor Ethics Award.
Floyd Grover Johnson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on multiple drug trafficking charges in Powell County. But in his appeal, Floyd successfully argued that because the investigation leading to his indictment was conducted solely by uninvited law enforcement agencies outside of Powell County—including detectives from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and officers working for Operation UNITE, an anti-drug enforcement non-profit founded by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-5—then his 2009 indictment should be moot.
Lawmakers unanimously approved a contract today to hire attorneys to represent a state agency in a pair of sexual harassment lawsuits. The Government Contract Review Committee approved a $115,000 contract to hire the Lexington-based firm Landrum and Shouse to represent the Legislative Research Commission in a pair of lawsuits brought by female staffers, who’ve alleged that the LRC did little to address their complaints against former lawmaker John Arnold and Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia.
Among the litany of conscious-consumer labels like “certified organic” and “fair trade,” you might already be familiar with the Kentucky-specific “Homegrown by Heroes.” That logo tells you, for example, that the jar of Eastern Kentucky sorghum was produced by farmers who served in America’s armed forces.
Bell County Clerk Rebecca Blevins and three others from her office were accused Friday of theft from Kentuckians who purchased automobiles out of state. Instead of receiving a tax rebate form the clerk’s office like they were supposed to, Blevins allegedly kept the money, said the attorney general's office. Kentucky State Police and the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigation executed a warrant Friday morning against Blevins.
FRANKFORT—The first hearing in the sexual harassment lawsuit against former state Rep. John Arnold and elements of Kentucky state government revolved Wednesday around determining which parties should be accused. The hearing resulted in a delay in the trial until later this month.
The governor's secretary, Debi Gall, receives the petition from Sister Claire McGowan.
Credit Jonathan Meador / Kentucky Public Radio
FRANKFORT—Opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky delivered a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office Tuesday morning, citing concerns over the project's impact on the state's environment and asking the governor to block it.
An independent Kentucky panel in charge of reviewing child abuse cases is requesting $420,000 from the state’s budget to perform its duties. The Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel was created following criticism of accountability and transparency in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which deals with child abuse cases. Read more...
Through an easier exchange of computerized health records, state officials hope to lower traffic at emergency rooms and save millions of dollars. The initiative is aimed at patients known as ‘super utilizers’
Just before the federal government declared default, the U.S. Senate announced Wednesday afternoon it reached a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and get the federal government working again. But the Senate must still vote on the measure and so must the House of Representatives. Only then can a bill emerge that President Obama must sign -- before midnight tonight.
Potential Lexington Senate Candidates left to right, Richard Moloney, Reginald Thomas, Chuck Ellinger.
Credit Lexington Herald Leader
Three people are mentioned as possible successors to Kentucky State Senator Kathy Stein. The governor this week named the Lexington Democrat to a judicial post in Fayette County. Richard Moloney has experience in local and state government. During his time in Frankfort, Moloney says he worked well with lawmakers from both parties on proposed fee increases.
A select committee investigating sexual harassment complaints against a former lawmaker will consider sending letters to all legislative staffers inviting them to come forward with grievances. Members of the panel will vote on that proposal from Republican state Rep. Robert Benvenuti next Wednesday.
A popular tourist attraction at the Kentucky Capitol is being repaired. The State Journal reports that repairs began this month on the Floral Clock and are expected to take a couple of months to complete. Sam Ruth, commissioner of the Department of Facilities and Support Services, said several cracks are visible on the bottom of the clock. Some are a foot long and an inch wide.
While major savings have come through the reform of Kentucky’s criminal justice system, it’s also caused a financial squeeze for county jailers. The reforms were enacted to reduce prison populations and cut corrections costs. Fewer drug offenders are now jailed and more are in drug treatment programs. As a result, Kentucky Association of Counties Director Tommy Turner says local jails don’t get as much state money to help run their facilities.
FRANKFORT— Interim Joint Committee on Local Government co-chair Rep. Steven Riggs, D-Louisville (right), confers with Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, prior to the start of the committee's September meeting.
During a legislative hearing, proponents, including the mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities, argued cities should have the freedom to levy a local sales tax for special projects. Plus, they want the question to go before Kentucky voters next year. If approved, individual communities could then ask taxpayers to impose up to a one percent local sales tax. It would be temporary and Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher says it would likely go for specific projects.
FRANKFORT — Kentucky's capital city on Thursday became the fifth in the state to adopt an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. With the 3-2 passage of the ordinance by its city commission, Frankfort joined Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco in Perry County as cities with similar ordinances. Mayor Bill May and Commissioners Katie Flynn Hedden and Tommy Haynes voted for the ordinance, while Commissioners Robert Roach and Lynn Bowers opposed it. Read more...
Over the next few months, the federal health care law moves into a new phase. Beginning in October, Kentuckians can buy health insurance through a new, state-operated exchange. The federal government is also financing an expansion of Medicaid coverage in Kentucky. Nevertheless, Monticello Representative Ken Upchurch still worries coverage for many people will remain unavailable and unaffordable.
Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Bob Leeper (right).
Credit Legislative Research Commission
In just over four months lawmakers will be back in Frankfort for a full 60 day session. This winter, legislators must approve a new two year budget. While the state finished last year with a budget surplus, Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Bob Leeper doesn’t anticipate any big increase in state revenue. So, Leeper says building a budget will remain difficult.
With legislative redistricting behind them, many lawmakers say it’s time to reform the process for redrawing those boundaries. Some, like Richmond representative Rita Smart think a change in the state’s constitution is the answer. When asked about specific suggestions, Smart said last week more study is need to determine what needs to change. Smart has an ally in House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
Come 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly will likely consider ‘animal protection’ legislation. Melodie Zentall is with the Kentucky Coalition for Animal Protection. She says the Commonwealth ranks poorly when it comes to watching over its animals. “We are ranked 50th, dead last by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, that’s a national group. They look at animal protective laws across the nation, Kentucky is ranked dead last, dead last,” said Zentall.
FRANKFORT— Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), confers with Senate Democratic Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky Senate.
WEKU's Stu Johnson reports on the special session's final day.
FRANKFORT: New legislative boundaries for 138 members of the general assembly have been approved by the general assembly and signed into law by Kentucky’s governor. The final votes in favor of legislative redistricting were overwhelming; 35 to two in the Kentucky Senate and 79 to 18 in the House. Most of the debate occured as the full Senate took its first vote on the bill. Senate President Robert Stivers says the impact of these new district boundaries will be seen across the Commonwealth.
WEKU's Stu Johnson reports on the reservations expressed by some lawmakers over new legislative districts.
The Kentucky House has adopted new boundaries for its 100 members, but not without some lawmaker grumbling. The bill to redraw legislative boundaries passed the full house 83 to 17. Before the votes were cast, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told colleagues there was no intent to punish anyone or either political party.
The leader of the Kentucky House says he doesn’t have the power to discipline any lawmaker who serves in his chamber. House Speaker Greg Stumbo also says he has no direct knowledge of complaints filed by two statehouse staffers against against Sturgis Representative John Arnold. The two women, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner accuse Arnold of a pattern of sexual assault and harassment dating back to 2010. Stumbo says his office was contacted by LRC director Bobby Sherman.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A legislative redistricting bill has breezed through the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Legislative leaders removed many of the partisan overtones that had been in previous proposals, a move that led to broader support among rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties. The House passed the bill 83-17 Wednesday morning. The Senate is expected to rush the measure to a vote on Friday.
Two longtime Kentucky statehouse employees have filed ethics complaints against Democratic state Rep. John A. Arnold Jr., alleging a pattern of sexual assault and harassment dating back to early 2010. Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, in separate complaints, allege Arnold inappropriately touched them and made lewd and vulgar comments in numerous incidents over several years. Arnold is a veteran legislator from Sturgis. Read more...
FRANKFORT— Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, discusses a plan to redraw legislative district boundaries during a meeting of the House Committee on State Government.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
A legislative redistricting bill is expected to get a vote on the House floor this morning. House Speaker Greg Stumbo predicted that it will pass overwhelmingly and be sent to the Senate to be acted on by Friday. The House State Government Committee approved the measure 25-4 on Tuesday.
A rally today in Frankfort urged state leaders to spend surplus dollars on programs that provide child care. Since April, no new additions have been made to the list of low-income families eligible for child care or kinship care assistance. That’s when the governor ordered cuts in both programs. Without a restoration of funding, Michelle Sanborn with Children’s Alliance predicts more foster parents will be needed.
FRANKFORT— House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg (left), confers with House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown (right) as House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, looks on.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
Kentucky’s aviation industry is looking for some tax relief. Airport representatives came to Frankfort today for National Aviation Day. Kentucky Aviation Association President Rob Barnett says Kentucky’s aviation industry lags behind its neighbors and needs state assistance.