Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is ordering most state agencies to cut their budgets by two percent for the current fiscal year, but that will not be enough to close a $190 million budget shortfall. The decision was announced by State Budget Director Mary Lassiter at a joint budget committee meeting Tuesday. The plan will not include furloughs for state employees as the governor previously ordered, but it could mean agencies deciding to laying off workers.
After multiple lawsuits and key lawmakers' repeated calls for more transparency, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that he will release state records of children who have been killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse or neglect. The Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal had sued the state over the records of children who died while under supervision of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees child protection. In another case, the Todd County Standard sued the cabinet over the records involving Amy Dye, a 9-year-old girl who was beaten to death in February by her adoptive brother.
In a tough economy, Kentucky will avoid even the minimal cost of hauling in an official Christmas tree, opting instead to decorate an evergreen growing on the Capitol’s front lawn. Finance Cabinet spokeswoman Cindy Landham said Monday that Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration opted not to follow the traditional route of issuing a public request for a donated tree that state workers typically load aboard a truck and haul to Frankfort. The move is drawing kudos from environmentalists, including leaders of the forest protection group Heartwood that has a strong contingent in Kentucky.
A new bill that has been pre-filed in the Kentucky legislature for next year would block convicted methamphetamine offenders from buying key meth ingredients without a prescription, but not everyone is convinced the proposed law would be effective.
Kentucky lawmakers will again take up the issue of meth production and pseudoephedrine. The legislature has considered making cold and allergy medication that contains pseudoephedrine prescription-only, but that proposal failed. "We had U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers come and testify about why it should be made prescriptive. [He] certainly made a good argument. However I was not persuaded at that point that that was the solution," says Rep. Brent Yonts (D-Greenville).
With all indications that the congressional supercommittee tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion in budget savings by Wednesday is deadlocked, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul introduced an alternative plan late last week. The bipartisan 12-member committee, appointed by party leaders, has been in discussion for two months, but as of early today all signs pointed to the group being headed for a failure to reach a compromise.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, is calling for a formal end to U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq. Last week, Paul introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill to formally end the war in Iraq. At an appearance in Bowling Green on Friday, Paul said he hopes the Senate votes on the amendment shortly after Thanksgiving. He said he’s already received some bipartisan support on the amendment.
Gov. Steve Beshear has made the following appointment to Kentucky boards and commissions: Beshear has appointed Josh Hopkins to the Kentucky Film Commission to serve for a term expiring Sept. 30, 2015. Josh Hopkins, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., is an actor. The appointment replaces Carol K. Butler, whose term has expired.
A Franklin County court will hear a coal company’s third appeal in a case against the state Energy and Environment Cabinet tomorrow. The contention is over mining near Wilson Creek in Floyd County. Several years ago, residents living on Wilson Creek petitioned the state to declare the area unsuitable for mining. That petition was rejected, but the Energy and Environment cabinet placed certain restrictions on mining in the area—like any mining would have to restore the land to its approximate original contour, instead of seeking a variance, and reclamation would have to be done with native tree species.
Two Franklin County men have been indicted for scamming an elderly woman for work on her house, a prosecutor said. Joseph Lewis, 28, and Antone Miller, 42, were charged after they exploited Martha Guthrie, of Frankfort, by requesting around $4,000 for work on her house in late September, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland.
On Dec. 13, Gov. Steve Beshear will become only the second Kentucky governor to be sworn in to a second consecutive term. To oversee the state's 59th inaugural celebration, the governor Wednesday named eight inauguration committee co-chairs.
Kentucky lawmakers will draft legislation that could make the petition process in the state more consistent and easier. The issues that surrounded the petition submitted by the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky and the Northern Kentucky Tea Party in Kenton County in August have led the state Legislature to look at how referenda work in Kentucky.
The state Monday announced that about $2.1 million in grant funding has been awarded by the Kentucky Pride Fund for cleanup of 171 illegal dumps in 29 counties. “Illegal dumping is a major problem that raises significant concerns with regard to safety, property values and quality of life in our communities,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release. “It is a major economic burden on local governments, which are typically responsible for cleaning up dump sites.”
Ashley Stillwell and Josh Walkup hope that no one else has to endure the pain brought on by their experiences with herbal potpourri. Walkup, 26, of Richardsville, and Stillwell, 18, will address the Bowling Green City Commission at 4 p.m. Dec. 6 during a work session to discuss banning the sale of products marketed as herbal incense or potpourri that are in fact being used as cheap, legal alternatives to marijuana.
The fast approaching 2012 Kentucky General Assembly session will likely include items leftover from the just completed governor’s race. Both gubernatorial candidates agreed on the need for tax reform, but disagreed on the timing. Governor Beshear wants to wait until the economy improves, but, Senate President David William proposed immediate action. It’s not a new topic. For years, Fayette County lawmaker Bill Farmer has urged lawmakers to consider tax reforms.
Governor Steve Beshear today set a special election date to fill a vacant legislative seat in the 82nd House district. Rep. Dewayne Bunch resigned his office last month in order to focus on his recovery from a head injury earlier this year.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals will convene Monday, Nov. 14, in Frankfort to hear arguments about a Shelby County Circuit Court judgment that upheld deferment of a woman’s parole eligibility for 20 years. Proceedings are open to the public and will take place at 9:45 a.m. EST in the Court of Appeals Courtroom at 360 Democrat Drive.
After more than two decades in Frankfort, state Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election to the Kentucky Senate in 2012. Shaughnessy did not indicate why he was retiring, but thanked constituents for allowing him to be a public servant since 1988. “I am grateful to the voters of my community for the honor and privilege of serving in the state Senate,” he said in a statement.
After Tuesday’s convincing win, local state lawmakers expect Gov. Steve Beshear to again push for expanding gambling and explore modernizing the state’s tax structure during his second term. Beshear, a Democrat, unofficially beat Republican challenger David Williams by 20 points Tuesday, garnering 464,635 votes to Williams’ 295,434. Independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith got 74,923 votes, or 9 percent. Statewide, 28 percent of registered voters went to the polls.
The state on Wednesday announced $4.1 million in State Homeland Security Grants for 125 projects across Kentucky. The funding supports 911 programs, mobile computers and radios, bomb detection devices and first-responder training.
It's not unusual for foster children in Kentucky to end up homeless once they turn 18. In the 2012 General Assembly, some former foster children and leaders of private child caring agencies are going to push for improved laws and regulations for young adults in the program who are between the ages of 18 and 21.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the planned new interchange on Interstate 65 at Oakland and its connector to U.S. 31-W comply with federal environmental review standards. The ruling means the state will move forward with the project as quickly as it can, said Greg Meredith, chief district engineer with the Department of Highways. The project has been in the works since 2003 and had a federal earmark of $36 million. The project slowed when Karst Environmental Education and Protection sued the Federal Highway Administration in October 2010 to halt the project. The lawsuit contended that federal officials didn’t comply with the National Environmental Policy Act before approving the project.
More than 26,000 prescription pain pills were diverted from a Butler County pharmacy onto the black market in and around Bowling Green. That’s what Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force officers found as the result of an investigation that started with one undercover drug purchase in May. Hundreds of man-hours later, task force officers traced the source to a Butler County pharmacy where an employee, without the knowledge of her employer, stole the pills and provided them to another person for resale, police said.
Officials of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago have concluded that they have no idea how many deportation cases they handle in Shelby County or Kentucky. The issue first came to light in July when The Sentinel-News sought to find out exactly how many illegal immigration cases involving persons facing criminal charges were processed through the state and the county on detainers from ICE.
A metal thief recently kicked a dent in Bowling Green business owner Terry Simon’s bottom line when the thief made off with thousands of dollars worth of tools and building materials that he later sold for scrap. Simon is one many Kentuckians who have fallen victim to illegal scrappers, people who steal anything made of nonprecious metal that they later sell to metal recyclers. For the scrapper’s effort, he got nearly $400, according to Bowling Green Police Department records. Police recovered some of Simon’s property, but some of what was recovered was damaged beyond any usefulness to Simon. To address the problem, state Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, recently pre-filed legislation targeting metal theft.
An overhaul of the state's Medicaid program is set to go live on Nov. 1, state officials said this week. Earlier this year, the state entered into contracts with three managed care companies and continued a contract with Passport Health Plan to serve more than 560,000 people on the state-federal health plan for the poor, aged and disabled. The move, expected to save $375 million over the next three years, was initiated to keep costs down in the more than $6 billion program.
Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 in honor of a Fort Knox soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. According to the Department of Defense, Spc. Michael D. Elm, 25, of Phoenix, Ariz., died Oct. 14 in Khowst, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
For the third year in a row, Kentucky lawmakers will consider the repeal of loophole that has resulted in some lawmakers receiving lifelong annual pensions of more than $100,000. The measure approved six years ago allows state representatives and senators to calculate their legislative pension based on their highest three years of salary, even if that salary came from another state job.
When Larry Lee walked away from a personal care home in Falmouth on Aug. 4, no one knew how his story would end. Lee, 32, suffered from a brain injury, schizophrenia, and diabetes, and it was unlikely he would survive long on his own. Lee's family took matters into their own hands and tried to find him. Family, friends, and community members searched for an entire month. Unfortunately, Lee was found dead Sept. 3, near the Licking River, only a few miles from where he went missing. However, Lee's story doesn't end there. Instead, it could lead to new legislation to improve personal care homes throughout the state of Kentucky.
A statewide smoking ban will again come before lawmakers when they head back to Frankfort in January, but just how much support such a measure will have is unclear. “There is no question that it would save the state money in terms of what it pays out for Medicaid,” said state Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. “We certainly are a high-smoking state and that is based on our tobacco-growing tradition,” Richards said. “I could support a statewide smoking ban, depending on how it’s written, because I think it’s one of those laws that right now have a patchwork across the state and people don’t know from one community to the next whether they have one.”