Despite unanswered questions about the impact of federal health care reforms, Kentucky's lawmakers are taking steps to pass a state budget. House members have begun the process of evaluating and modifying the spending plan proposed by Governor Beshear.
The Kentucky House is backing a significant expansion of the early child care provider rating system. It will mean hundreds more child care centers will be able to tap into the “Star Rating” program offered by the state. The expansion will necessitate training paid for by federal dollars through the “Race to the Top” grant program.
Next Wednesday marks the midway point for the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly. Typically, much of the heavy lifting regarding legislation occurs during the second half of the 60-day session. This winter’s lawmaking exercise seems to be following that tradition.
A measure being filed in the Kentucky House would increase the monthly statewide wireless fee by 30 cents. Proponents say the increase is needed to offset the loss of revenue as a result of declining land-line phone service.
A bill that would allow bar owners to open their doors to concealed weapons has won approval by a Kentucky Senate committee. Current state law prohibits anyone to enter a bar with a gun that is not openly visible.
Leaders of the Kentucky Senate and House are exchanging words on minimum wage legislation. The House approved a bill Thursday to raise the minimum wage 95 cents a year for three years, eventually reaching ten dollars ten cents an hour. Senate President Robert Stivers says his chamber is more interested in creating new jobs.
The Kentucky Senate Thursday approved a constitutional amendment measure which would give the legislature the ability to block administrative regulations proposed by the governor’s office when lawmakers are not in session.
National "Wear Red Day" has been recognized by the Kentucky General Assembly. The American Heart Association urged everyone to wear red on Friday to bring attention to the number one killer of women, heart disease.
The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill to increase the minimum wage in the Commonwealth. The measure raises the minimum wage 95 cents a year over a three year period. If enacted into law, the hourly rate would go from seven dollars 25 cents to ten dollars and ten cents after three years.
People considered at risk in domestic situations may soon have access to additional protection. Kentucky’s General Assembly is being asked to approve legislation loosening restrictions on concealed weapons.
A Kentucky Senate committee has approved additional protections for vulnerable Kentuckians who receive personal care services. The bill is aimed at reducing adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation by creating a registry with the state.
The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would require ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. The bill does not include an exemption for victims of rape. According to the reproductive rights nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, 88 percent of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear isn’t spilling any secrets about the tax reform proposal he plans to unveil Tuesday. When asked about his plan, mum is the word. Beshear won't say whether he wants to raise taxes, or whether his plan will be revenue neutral.
Leaders from both the Kentucky House and Senate are scheduled to meet with Governor Beshear Monday to talk tax reform. Lawmakers have been waiting on details of a proposal. Governor Beshear promised weeks ago he would come forward with a legislative proposal to reform taxes. But, the particulars of how to change the state’s tax structure will likely be revealed in Monday's meeting.
The Kentucky general assembly is about a third of the way through the 2014 session. As is the case in most Kentucky legislative sessions, a great deal of the voting comes in the later weeks and days. For instance, no votes occurred in either house Friday morning and both the House and Senate were in session for less than an hour.
Legislation seeking to eliminate the state office of treasurer is making its way through the Kentucky Senate. The Senate State and Local Government Committee easily approved the measure Wednesday. Bill Sponsor Chris McDaniel says voter approval of the constitutional amendment would save taxpayers about two and a half million dollars each year.
A bill that would permit monkeys to be used as service companions for paralyzed Kentuckians has been filed in the state Senate At first blush, northern Kentucky Senator John Schikel’s bill sounds like fodder for The Daily Show. It allows primates to serve as service companions in private residences. But when asked about it, Shickel, a former police officer, breaks down in tears.
The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation aimed at addressing the state’s growing heroin problem. It contains provisions on treatment, education, and intervention. Senate bill five increases penalties for high volume heroin traffickers and paves the way for charging them with homicide when there is an overdose death.
FRANKFORT— Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington (left), confers with Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, in the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
A proposal to change the timing of elections for Kentucky’s statewide officers has sailed out of a Senate committee. If it passes the House and voters approve the constitutional amendment, statewide races for governor, attorney general, and agriculture commissioner would coincide with national elections. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer supports the change.
A new federal program could allow eight southeast Kentucky counties to attract more support in their fight against poverty. The program would create a so-called "Promise Zone." The designation could bring more federal money into the region and spawn additional partnerships between government agencies, social service groups and private employers. E-K-U President Michael Benson says his school will also be involved in the initiative.
Gov. Steve Beshear entered the House of Representatives to give his State of the Commonwealth Address at the Kentucky State Capitol on Jan. 7, 2014, in Frankfort.
Credit Mark Cornelison / Lexington Herald Leader
A State of the Commonwealth Speech offers Kentucky's governor an opportunity to emphasize an administration's accomplishments. Last night, Governor Steve Beshear spent a good amount of time talking about health care reforms, but also called on the general assembly to enhance state revenues and reform taxes.
FRANKFORT— House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook (left), speaks with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives prior to the start of the opening day of the 2014 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
The opening day of 2014 general assembly included a renewal of the debate over a highly publicized sexual harassment case. Critics took to the house floor and attacked the House special committee that investigated allegation of sexual harassment leveled against former Representative John Arnold. The panel disbanded just before the holidays without taking action.
The future of a disbanded Kentucky House committee formed to look into harassment claims against a former lawmaker may be decided this year. Kentucky Public Radio’s Jonathan Meador reports House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the committee charged with investigating John Arnold could be resurrected.
Although the committee had nothing to show after meeting five times and spending thousands of taxpayer dollars, Stumbo says there’s still a chance for it to continue its mission. He says that if he were in charge, the outcome would have been different.
Kentucky lawmakers are being asked to consider a new proposal for privatizing certain services or projects. It is not new to Kentucky state government. Privatization was used in a significant way to house inmates across the Commonwealth for decades.