FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Thursday in honor of Deputy State Fire Marshal Charles Sparks, who passed away on July 8 from a heart attack he suffered while battling a fire in Adair County.
With a little less than a month to go, organizers of “Breathitt County Day” in Frankfort are making final preparations to make this year's event – the seventh annual one – to exceed last year's record turnout. They hope to tie into this November's elections for state offices, by inviting Democratic and Republican candidates for governor to the festivities, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 5, starting at 10 a.m. at VFW Post # 4075, located at the corner of East Second Street and Capital Avenue in Frankfort, just five blocks away from the Kentucky State Capitol.
For the first time in three years, Kentucky’s general fund tax receipts have increased. The fiscal year, which ended last month, saw a six point five percent increase...that's the highest growth rate since 2006. State budget director Mary Lassiter says it’s a sign of economic recovery.
FRANKFORT – To help ensure the Ohio River Bridges Project moves forward, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Monday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit by River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation against the Federal Highway Administration. The two groups are seeking to stop the Bridges Project, in which new bridges to Indiana would be built in downtown Louisville and eastern Jefferson County, and the downtown Kennedy Interchange would be reconstructed.
FRANKFORT – The electrocution of a man who allegedly was attempting to steal copper wire from an electric substation highlights just how dangerous this illegal activity can be, the Kentucky Public Service Commission said Monday. A 22-year-old man was killed early Thursday at an electric substation in McCreary County. According to news reports, the man had taken copper from a Kentucky Utilities Co. substation and was attempting to do the same at a nearby East Kentucky Power Cooperative facility when he was killed.
Law enforcement agencies in Frankfort and Franklin County caught more than 300 people without their seat belts during this year’s national “Click It or Ticket” promotion, according to a recently released report. During the special two-week enforcement period from May 23 to June 5, the Frankfort Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s office issued a total of 323 seat belt citations.
A proposed state law that would make it a felony to wait more than 12 hours to report a child missing appears to have bipartisan support from Warren County’s legislative delegation. State Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, is prefiling legislation that would make it a felony to fail to report children ages 12 and under who have been missing more than 12 hours. The announcement came at the conclusion last week of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida. In that case, Casey Anthony failed to report her daughter, Caylee Anthony, missing for a month in the summer of 2008
A former Magoffin County school principal pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal drug and gun charges. Darrell B. Patrick, 46, admitted selling pain pills to an undercover informant several times in 2009, possessing pills for the purpose of distribution and possessing guns in furtherance of a drug crime, according to a court document. Police found more than 100 shotguns, rifles and pistols, as well as a bulletproof vest, when they raided Patrick's home near Salyersville in October 2009.
After more than 80 years, Farmers Bank’s run as the depository for Kentucky’s state government is officially over. J.P. Morgan Chase, with regional headquarters in Louisville, won the contract earlier this year to provide depository-banking services to state government between July 2011 and June 2013 at a cost of $1.3 million. Frankfort’s Farmers Bank held that contract since 1928 and was one of four other firms that unsuccessfully vied for the chance to handle billions in taxpayer dollars. Although they scored highly on technical requirements and in an oral presentation, Farmers asked for more than $900,000 above J.P. Morgan’s price.
The Bowling Green City Commission will vote Tuesday on a resolution opposing the potential prosecution of terrorism suspects Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi in federal court in Bowling Green and urging officials such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to move the case.
It could be as long as six weeks before the two Whitley County High School students charged with assaulting teacher Dewayne Bunch know if they will be tried as adults. Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell said at a hearing Tuesday, Judge Cathy Prewitt recused herself from the case involving Dewayne Cox and Trevor Canada.
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.