FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that the state closed Fiscal Year 2011 with a $156.8 million General Fund surplus, on the strength of positive revenues that exceeded budgeted levels. More than 75 percent of that surplus - $121.8 million - will be deposited into the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, the state’s so-called “rainy day fund.” This is the largest such deposit in state history from an end of year surplus.
Despite challenges within the Republican Party and projections that other congressional plans would result in more savings, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated his support for House Speaker John Boehner’s plan Wednesday. Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said the proposal will prevent a government default before the August 2 deadline and reduce Washington spending. And unlike President Barack Obama, McConnell points out Boehner was courageous enough to provide the country with an option.
The federal government has decided to stake a claim in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by two former employees against Lexington-based Nurses' Registry and Home Health Corporation, a health care company run by businessman Lennie House. The lawsuit, which alleges Medicare fraud spanning nearly a decade — and retaliation against employees who refused to take part in the fraud — was filed in 2008 by Alisia Robinson-Hill, former vice president of operations, and David Price, a former case manager and office administrator for the company.
By John Whitlock, Owenton News Herald & Molly Haines, Owenton News Herald
The voters of Owen County have rejected a proposal that would have expanded alcohol sales. The final tally was 1,522 votes cast for expanded alcohol sales and 1,792 voting no, a difference of 270 votes. Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid said she expected a 53-percent turnout early Tuesday. When all the results were official, only 44 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
Some county clerks say the current system for registering homeless voters is fraught with peril. When a homeless person registers to vote, Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown says something as simple as assigning a poling place becomes complicated.
Secretary of State Elaine Walker and Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown will address state legislators this afternoon on the issues surrounding homeless voter registration. They will speak before the Interim Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs to talk about the concerns raised over a memo last month from the Kentucky Board of Elections on the process for homeless voter registration.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in New York, and couples from across the country have made plans to travel to the state for what are commonly called “destination weddings.” But those weddings will not be recognized by many other states, including Kentucky, which has a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. But Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman says that won’t stop local LGBT couples from going anyway.
A nursing home defending itself from a federal lawsuit alleging that it defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by billing $16 million for "worthless" services and care so "grossly deficient" it led to the death of patients, has quietly settled claims of neglecting residents in previous years. Villaspring Health Care Center of Erlanger reached out-of-court settlements in one wrongful-death claim and one negligent-care claim, according to Kenton County Circuit Court records.
Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, MS-13, Gangster Disciples, Asian Pride - jailers work to quickly identify inmates who claim allegiance to these street gangs and others for the safety of the keepers, as well as the kept. Decades-old gang rivalries that span from the East Coast to West Coast have created housing and safety concerns for southcentral Kentucky jailers. Jailers are constantly on the alert to prevent gang-related violence. “You have to make every effort to do everything you can to keep the facility safe,” Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode said.
Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Special Prosecutions Friday announced the indictment of a second former administrator of Golden Years Rest Home in Jenkins. A Letcher County grand jury returned an indictment on Thursday against 25-year-old Jonah Tackett on two counts of bribing a witness, two counts of tampering with a witness and three counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property, all Class D felonies.
Members of the Warren County Domestic Violence Council heard presentations Thursday about a grant to fund legal services to local victims of domestic violence and two visas designed to provide immigration status to noncitizens who are victims of serious crimes. Created out of federal legislation passed in 2000, both visas provide temporary citizenship status to victims of serious crimes. The T visas are available for victims of sex trafficking, while U visas can be issued to foreign nationals who are victims of a broad range of serious crimes, including assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape and other sexual offenses.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told the Daily News he walked away pleased following a meeting Thursday with FBI Director Robert Mueller. Paul met with Mueller to address how Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were admitted into the United States as refugees from Iraq before eventually being arrested on terrorism charges in Bowling Green in May. Paul, a Bowling Green Republican, said his main concern was whether the 60,000 Iraqi refugees admitted into the country in the past three years were screened properly, and what was being done to screen them properly in the future.
Doctors on Thursday debated the amount of training needed for optometrists to perform some minor eye surgeries allowed under legislation approved in February by the Kentucky General Assembly. Senate Bill 110 raised eyebrows for the short time it took both chambers to pass the bill - 10 days - and the Kentucky Optometric Association's political action committee giving more than $400,000 in campaign contributions to lawmakers and the gubernatorial campaigns of Gov. Steve Beshear and Senate President David Williams in the past two years.
By KPA News Content Service & Devin Katayama, Kentucky Public Radio
Attorney General Jack Conway Thursday announced a $26.4 million civil settlement with the physician and hospital partners of the Passport Health Plan. The partners must begin repayment within 10 days of this announcement. The final payments will take place on or before Jan. 1, 2016.
The office of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Thursday he accepted the All Rise Leadership Award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. The award was given to several members of Congress Tuesday and is handed out to lawmakers who exhibit a commitment to combating drug related crime and addiction through appropriate court programs.
A bill in reaction to the high-profile Casey Anthony trial in Orlando Florida has surfaced in Kentucky. “Caylee’s Law” was recently pre-filed for the 2012 legislative session. When Anthony was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee, many observers were outraged that she faced no jail time for failing to report her daughter missing for 31 days.“Caylee’s Law” would charge a parent or guardian with a felony for failing to report a child under 12 missing within 12 hours.
An inmate at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center died last year after his diabetes was left untreated, and jail employees watched him lie unresponsive for an hour before calling an ambulance, a federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges. The estate of James Sours filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Pikeville against the regional jail in Johnson County, which was the target of a grand jury investigation last year; another inmate died in 2009.
What began as county-level allegations against an Erlanger nursing home was elevated all the way to the federal level because authorities wanted a tougher possible punishment. While using the federal False Claims Act is not a common practice in taking action against nursing homes, there is precedent nationally, even if it hasn't been used in Kentucky for such purposes until Friday's civil lawsuit against Villaspring of Erlanger Health Care Center and Rehabilitation.
FRANKFORT – Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Sharon P. Clark has been named chairwoman of the Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The committee monitors all aspects of the insurance market’s regulatory practices and reviews how those efforts affect insurance consumers. The committee was actively involved in national efforts to protect military personnel from inappropriate sales activities on U.S. military installations.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to support the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan being proposed in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon. Backed by the Tea Party, the bill seeks to curb government spending by cutting spending by $111 billion and capping federal expenditures to 19.9% of the nation’s gross domestic output. The legislation also seeks to send a balanced-budget constitutional amendment to the states for ratification.
Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Sharon P. Clark has been named chairwoman of the Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The committee monitors all aspects of the insurance market’s regulatory practices and reviews how those efforts affect insurance consumers.
The city of Lexington's Law Department is revisiting its decision not to release the criminal case file of former state lawmaker Steve Nunn until after Nunn has completed his life sentence in prison. The Herald-Leader had requested the case file under the Kentucky Open Records Act after Nunn, 58, pleaded guilty on June 28 to fatally shooting his ex-fiancée, Amanda Ross. The police department, citing a 1992 Kentucky Supreme Court decision, responded with a letter saying the request would not be fulfilled until Nunn completed his life sentence in prison.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Monday that it filed a civil complaint alleging that an Erlanger nursing home provided "worthless" services that resulted in the deaths of five residents and injuries to others. This is the first suit filed in Kentucky in which the government alleges that a nursing home defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by submitting bills for reimbursement while providing systemically poor resident care. The nursing home owner denies the allegations.
An official with a coalition of Kentucky veterans groups has asked state lawmakers if something more can be done to keep protesters farther away from military funerals. Dave Jarrett made the appeal recently to a legislative Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. Jarrett is chairman of the Joint Executive Council of Veterans. He says he realizes free speech must be protected, but the funeral of a soldier is a solemn occasion.
Many Kentucky public schools have until Jul. 29 to become part of a new pilot food program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but all may not participate. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to all students in schools where at least 40 percent of students are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—or SNAP—or participate in the Free and Reduced Meal Program. In Kentucky 102 school districts are eligible; Jefferson County is one of them.
FRANKFORT – At Gov. Steve Beshear’s direction, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has taken action to speed the emergency response to neighboring states hit with widespread electrical outages earlier this week. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock signed an official order to waive special registration and permit requirements for utility repair vehicles headed to stricken areas.
An open records ruling from the attorney general’s office says Kentucky State Police must turn over photos from the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire even if they are in possession of a former employee. Attorney General Jack Conway‘s office said KSP, which refused to give copies of photos of the deadly 1977 fire in northern Kentucky to a survivor of the blaze, must comply. David Brock, 52 of Florence, who was an 18-year-old busboy at the supper club the night of the fire, made the request. Brock wants to see the photos because he says he believes they will show the fire was caused by arson.
Nineteen defendants from Adair, Butler and Russell counties have been sentenced in United States District Court for their role in a crack cocaine and controlled substance distribution ring operating in and around Adair County, according to David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. According to evidence presented in court, the drug trafficking organization operated between July 2007 and May 2009 and was responsible for the distribution of at least 300 kilograms of crack cocaine and prescription pills with an estimated street value in excess of $10 million, in and around Adair County.
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear has asked for a major disaster declaration from President Obama for those parts of Eastern Kentucky damaged by flooding, high winds and tornadoes on June 19. Beshear requested Individual Assistance, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation and Small Business Administration disaster loans.
Frankfort - Five more Kentucky counties - Garrard, Jessamine, Pulaski, Lincoln and Rockcastle - have been added to eWarrants, the state's electronic warrant management system. This brings to 84 the number of Kentucky counties utilizing eWarrants. The Office of the Attorney General, along with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and Open Portal Solutions, Inc., provided training and support for eWarrants.