The Corbin man, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in March, pleaded guilty Tuesday to setting fires in the Whitley County portion of the Daniel Boone National Forest. U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanley A. Ingram accepted the single-count, guilty plea for setting fire to land under the exclusive control and jurisdiction of the United States, from Michael L. Luttrell, 20, a former Woodbine volunteer firefighter.
Legislators say they would support a recommendation to require investment middlemen who deal with the state pension fund to register as executive branch lobbyists. The recommendation was one of 92 made in a report by Auditor Crit Luallen during an investigation of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. She presented her findings at a press conference Tuesday and to the joint interim committee on state government Wednesday. The use of placement agents led to “pay to play” scandals in the New York and California state pension systems, but Luallen’s report found no evidence of wrongdoing here.
Attorney General Jack Conway is alerting Kentucky consumers to a resurgence of the "grandparent's scam" targeting senior citizens. The Office of Consumer Protection has received nearly a dozen complaints this year related to the "grandparent's scam" with victims reporting losses of nearly $40,000. Four of the complaints were received within the last month.
Former state lawmaker and convicted murderer Steve Nunn is eligible to get about $28,210 a year in state retirement benefits, plus cost-of-living increases, once he turns 62. Kentucky law does not allow the pension benefits of state lawmakers to be withheld unless they commit a crime while in office in their capacity as a legislator.
Lawmakers are promising legislation addressing issues raised in a state audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. The 118-page audit made 92 recommendations for strengthening Board of Trustees’ oversight and governance of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. The board manages investments of nearly $13 billion for 300,000 active and retired state workers. State Auditor Crit Luallen says the audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, which she defined for House and Senate State Government Committee members.
State Auditor Crit Luallen says she found no evidence of wrongdoing in an audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. But Luallen says the audit does raise several areas of concern. The audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, who act as middlemen to secure investments from entities like KRS. Placement agents have been at the center of "pay-to-play" scandals in other states, but Luallen says that does not appear to be the case in Kentucky.
Former state legislator Steve Nunn, the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, appeared at a court hearing in Lexington today and pleaded guilty to killing his former fiancee, Amanda Ross, in September 2009, according to WKYT-TV. As part of a plea deal, Nunn will serve a sentence of life in prison without parole, the station reported.
Instant Racing is another step closer to leaving the gate at Kentucky horse tracks. But opponents of the new form of gambling still hope to block it. Instant Racing, which involves electronic gambling on previously-run horse races, has never won legislative approval in Kentucky. But last month, a legislative oversight panel refused to block regulations allowing it.
The legal hunting of sandhill cranes in Kentucky has moved another step closer to becoming a reality, but final approval is still pending. Earlier this month, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a sandhill crane hunting season in Kentucky. The season, with a mid-December start, would last for 30 days, or until 400 of the huge, migratory birds have been killed, whichever comes first.
Pikeville College President Paul Patton served two terms as Kentucky's governor, but his first-term accomplishments likely will be his legacy. And the reason is higher education reform. In 1997, two years into his first term, Patton convinced lawmakers to approve a comprehensive package of post-secondary education reforms. The most controversial prong required the University of Kentucky to relinquish control of the state's community and technical colleges.
More Kentucky firefighters are headed south, this time to help battle wildfires in southeast Georgia. Kentucky already has a crew in Florida. Several fires are consuming large tracts of timberland and threatening homes in and around the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross, Georgia. Fire crews are stretched thin, so Kentucky is sending some help.
With the fall election 20 weeks away, the two major gubernatorial slates in Kentucky are beating the bushes for campaign dollars. So far, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramson, are out-raising Republican Senate President David Williams and his running mate Richie Farmer, but both campaigns are loading up for the fall campaign.
Kentucky public colleges and universities are already compiling their capital project wish lists. They're getting ready for next year's legislative session. A $33 million Engineering-Physics building tops the projects list at Murray State University, but President Randy Dunn says the school also badly needs a new $62 million library.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is selling surplus state property again. This time it's a vacant lot in Frankfort. Since taking office in 2007, Gov. Beshear says his administration has generated nearly $7.5 million through surplus real estate sales. Included in that figure is nearly $79,000 Beshear says the state got for a vacant, two-acre industrial lot in Frankfort.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has been studying the education levels of state lawmakers in the United States. The state with the most college-educated lawmakers is California, with 90 percent. New Hampshire, with 53 percent, has the least. The national average is around 75 percent, slightly lower than Kentucky’s 77 percent.
New statewide, end-of-course, assessment exams begin this coming school year for Kentucky high school students. The tests were authorized in education reforms approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2009. The statewide tests measure student achievement in graduation-required courses of English, Algebra, Biology and U.S. History.
It’s been another stellar month for state revenue receipts in Kentucky. And Gov. Steve Beshear says that means no furloughs for state workers next fiscal year. General Fund receipts in May were $750 million, a whopping 18 percent increase over May 2010 receipts.
Statewide Medicaid managed care is coming to Kentucky, but maybe not as fast as some lawmakers thought. Gov. Steve Beshear says the state can save millions of dollars by letting private health care organizations manage services for the state's 820,000 Medicaid recipients. Acting Medicaid Commissioner Neville Wise says proposals from interested organizations are under evaluation.
Deputy Chief Justice Mary Noble of Lexington has become the first woman to preside over oral arguments in the Kentucky Supreme Court. The issue before the Supreme Court was ineffective assistance of counsel in a criminal case. It's a fairly routine issue of appeal, but the proceedings were unique because, for the first time, a woman was sitting in the chief justice's chair.
Kentucky lawmakers want to know more about aviation needs, including aircraft owned and operated by the state. The Department of Aviation has 35 employees and an annual budget of around $10 million. The department oversees three fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter. Two other planes under the department's control were sold at auction last month.
The results of Kentucky’s May 17th primary election have been officially certified. It took the State Board of Elections less than an hour to go over the numbers and certify the primary vote tallies. Secretary of State Elaine Walker says the only exception to the election night vote count was addressed in a recanvass conducted two weeks ago.
The newly renovated Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort reopened over the weekend. The Hall of Governors is literally a wide hallway in the west wing of the history center. It's lined with the portraits of dozens of Kentucky governors. In years past, visitors often breezed through the room, because there was no historical or biographical information accompanying the paintings. That's no longer the case, says Scott Alvey, who's overseeing the hall's redevelopment.
FRANKFORT, KY - Over the objections of a bevy of birdwatchers, a sandhill crane hunting season may soon become a reality in Kentucky. Sandhill cranes are large, migratory birds that were almost completely wiped out in the early 1900's, but rebounded with federal protection. The population east of the Mississippi River now numbers around 60,000 and many of the birds winter in Kentucky.
Power rates will rise. That’s the bottom line of testimony in Frankfort on the costs of meeting new federal environmental standards for coal-fired utilities in Kentucky. Representatives of several coal-fired utilities in Kentucky say meeting federal clean air standards already in the pipeline will require investments of billions of dollars. John Voyles of LG&E and KU says their capital costs could rise by four billion dollars over the next ten years
Six Kentucky counties have been chosen at random for mandatory, post-primary election audits. Attorney General Jack Conway conducted the drawing, and the counties chosen at random to be audited are Wolfe, Boyd, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Estill and Clark. Pendleton County was drawn before Clark, but disqualified, because it was audited in the previous election. Conway says investigators will now be dispatched to the six counties drawn.
Praise is pouring in for former Kentucky Rep. Eddie Ballard of Madisonville, who died Tuesday at age 81. The Hopkins County Democrat, who retired from the legislature last year, had served in the Kentucky House since 1987. He was chairman of the Tourism, Development and Energy Committee and vice-chair of the State Government committee.
Gov. Steve Beshear's campaign says the list of Republicans backing the Kentucky Democrat's re-election bid this fall is growing. But the man Beshear faces this fall says there are many reasons why some Republicans would be donating to a sitting governor's re-election campaign. On the day before Kentucky Republicans held their post-primary unity rally at GOP headquarters in Frankfort, Gov. Beshear's campaign released the names of 70 Republicans backing his re-election bid. Among the names was former lieutenant governor Steve Pence.
Bill Johnson of Elkton has again prevailed in the Republican primary for Kentucky Secretary of State. On election night, Johnson defeated Hilda Legg of Somerset by just over 1,100 votes, but Legg sought a recheck of voting machine tallies. The recanvass shows Johnson picking up five votes, and Legg gaining 11.
A Frankfort judge, in a price gouging case against Marathon Petroleum, has refused to force the oil company to roll back gas prices in Kentucky. The ruling comes in a case originally filed several years ago, in which the oil company was accused of price gouging following disasters.
The 2010 Kentucky State Police Trooper of the Year is a veteran of Post 1 in Mayfield, in far western Kentucky. Senior Trooper Thomas Williams was honored along with a host of other state troopers in an awards ceremony in Frankfort.