State Capitol

6:41am

Mon June 17, 2013
State Capitol

Losing Voters Through Legislative Redistricting

Credit freedomkentucky.org

Kentucky lawmakers will likely make the trip back to Frankfort before fall.  They will try to finalize new legislative boundaries.  Within the next week, Governor Beshear expects to announce the dates for a special session.  Madison County Senator Republican Jared Carpenter says the realignment of lawmaker districts should be a bit easier in his legislative chamber.

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10:16am

Thu June 13, 2013
State Capitol

Call to Special Session on Redistricting Likely this Month

Credit Kentucky Public Radio

With some important work undone, Kentucky state lawmakers will likely meet in a special session before year’s end.  Governor Steve Beshear recently met with House and Senate leaders to set what he calls ground rules for a special legislative session.  The only apparent agenda item is legislative redistricting.  Special sessions cost about $60,000 a day.  But, Governor Beshear says leaving the issue to the courts is not the way to go.

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12:18pm

Wed May 29, 2013
State Capitol

107 mph on I-75, Lawmaker Cited

State Rep. Regina Bunch.
Credit Lexington Herald Leader

State Rep. Regina Bunch, R-Williamsburg, was cited shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday by Lexington police for traveling 109 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone on I-75 near the 108-mile marker. Bunch, who represents the 82nd House District of Whitley and part of Laurel County, said in a telephone interview that she did not think she was going that fast "because I was traveling with the traffic." Read more... 

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4:12pm

Fri May 24, 2013
State Capitol

New Education Committee Chair Selected

Credit Legislative Research Commission

State Rep. Derrick Graham has been named the new chairman of the state House Education committee, Democratic leaders announced today. Graham is a Frankfort native who recently retired as a social studies teacher at Frankfort High School. He is a well-known education advocate and previously chaired a budget subcommittee on education.

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5:31pm

Tue May 21, 2013
State Capitol

New Tourism Cabinet Secretary

Governor Steve Beshear has named a longtime tourism veteran to oversee the part of his cabinet dealing with travel and the arts.Bob Stewart is a familiar face in state government, having worked for 11 years as commissioner of travel from 1992 to 2003.  And now, he'll be the new Tourism Secretary, having been appointed by Beshear to fill the post vacated by Marcheta  Sparrow, who’s retiring.

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1:20pm

Tue May 21, 2013
State Capitol

State Ag Commissioner Holds Out Hope for Hemp

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer
Credit Kentucky Agriculture Department

Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says a recent setback shouldn't cause hemp supporters to give up hope of getting the crop legalized. James Comer says he's not surprised that language legalizing industrial hemp wasn’t added to the first drafts of farm bills in the U.S. House and Senate.   Last week, a group of Kentucky U.S. Senators and House members tried--and failed--to get the provision included in the legislation.  Comer says the federal farm bill has a long way to go before it gets passed, and a lot of things will be added and taken out in the next few months

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3:15pm

Fri May 17, 2013
State Capitol

State Tourism Secretary Resigns

Marcheta Sparrow.

Kentucky's Tourism Secretary, Marcheta Sparrow will retire at the end of this month. Sparrow was one of Governor Steve Beshear's first cabinet appointments, taking office in 2007. Beshear did not return a request for comment, but in a statement, he praised Sparrow for the state's recent uptick in tourism, including a 4.4 percent jump last year. Beshear says he will name a new secretary soon. The secretary oversees many departments, in addition to tourism, including parks, fish and wildlife and other humanities-related offices. 

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10:14am

Fri May 17, 2013
State Capitol

Farmer trial delay gives lawyers more time

Credit Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

The trial date for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has been rescheduled to 10 a.m. Oct. 22, a federal judge ordered Wednesday. Farmer’s attorney, Guthrie True, had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove to delay the proceeding to February from its original July 2 trial date.

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1:52pm

Wed May 15, 2013
State Capitol

Richie Farmer seeks Documents from Prosecutors

Credit Pablo Alacala / Lexington Herald-Leader

A lawyer for former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer wants federal prosecutors to turn over all documents that might used against Farmer at trial and all criminal records of any potential government witness. In documents filed in federal court Monday, lawyer J. Guthrie True asked a judge to compel prosecutors to turn over reams of information to Farmer's defense team. Federal prosecutors have already turned over 16 compact discs to Farmer's lawyers, according to previous court filings. Farmer has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the alleged misuse of approximately $450,000 in taxpayer funds. Read more...

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11:54am

Mon May 13, 2013
State Capitol

Women Gain Ground in KY Supreme Court

Credit Kentucky Courts

This audio is pending

The newest justice on Kentucky's Supreme Court will formally be sworn in this week, giving the court a record three women on the bench at one time. Justice Michelle Keller will take the oath tomorrow in the Capitol. The swearing in will take place at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. Keller previously served on the state Court of Appeals, and Beshear appointed her to the 6th Supreme Court District in April. There are seven justices on the Supreme Court. Never in state history have three of them been women. 

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10:04am

Mon May 13, 2013
State Capitol

Pension Reforms set to Save Cities Thousands

The General Assembly came away from the 2013 regular session with a host of accomplishments, but the biggest for many lawmakers was Senate Bill 2, known as the pension reform bill. SB 2 changed the current public employee pension system from a defined-benefit plan to a hybrid plan, in which the employee and the employer both contribute funds. The bill put a stop to the state’s ballooning $33-billion pension shortfall. But while SB 2 saves the state’s pension fund from getting any bigger, it also saves cities in Kentucky from having to pay their employees the same benefits they had in the past.

4:26pm

Thu May 9, 2013
State Capitol

Medicaid Expansion Across in Kentucky Announced

Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

After months of deliberations, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has decided to expand Medicaid in Kentucky under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare—a move that's won praise from Democrats and health advocacy groups.  Beshear said Thursday that expansion benefits Kentucky in many ways.  "This move makes sense not only for our health but also for our pocketbook. More important it makes sense for our future," he says.  The expansion will insure more than 308,000 Kentuckians. And according to studies done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville, Medicaid expansion would bring about $800 million to Kentucky between next year and 2021.

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4:46pm

Thu April 18, 2013
State Capitol

Kentucky A-G says Feds Need to Act on Gun Issues

When conducting a background check on a person buying a gun, Kentucky’s Attorney General says they’re still limited by the information available in the system.  And, with many mental health care providers already under a financial strain, Jack Conway says inputting all that data can be a hardship.  “Not only do those agencies have to provide mental health services, they have to interface with the data bases and law enforcement and provide the information and make sure it gets captured, make certain it’s available to people that need to access the information.  So, we’re in the process of looking, making certain that all of our information is getting into the system,” said Conway.

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1:06pm

Wed April 3, 2013
State Capitol

KY Supreme Court First: Three Female Justices

Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller.
Credit Kentucky Courts

In a historic appointment, Governor Steve Beshear has named Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller of Fort Mitchell to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The appointment increases the number of women on the state's highest court to three. It is the first time the state Supreme Court has had three female justices on the bench. Keller replaces Justice Wil Schroder, who resigned January 17 due to health reasons.

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6:38am

Wed March 27, 2013
State Capitol

Governor and Lawmakers Celebrate Pension Passage

Kentucky's legislative leaders have passed two bills to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems, effectively staving off a special session on the issue.  The new plan would reduce a personal tax credit of $20 to $10, generating roughly 33 million in revenue that would go to General Fund, but lawmakers would use for pensions. It would also use revenue from technical changes in the state's tax code, as well as money from federal tax changes.

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6:30am

Wed March 27, 2013
State Capitol

Hemp Legislation Approved in Waning Moments

Kentucky lawmakers have achieved a compromise that would set up a regulatory framework should the federal government legalize industrial hemp.  The so-called hemp bill—Senate Bill 50—gives control of licensing of future hemp farmers to the Industrial Hemp Commission, but allow the Kentucky State Police to do background checks on the farmers.  The state Department of Agriculture would be given many administrative roles for licensing hemp farmers and the University of Kentucky would be charged with researching the issue.

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6:28am

Wed March 27, 2013
State Capitol

Military Voting Bill Passed

Kentucky military personnel serving overseas will be able to get ballots electronically under legislation approved late Tuesday in the Kentucky General Assembly. How they send them back is still to be determined. Working until the last minute of the 2013 session, legislators went back to the original Senate version of the military voting bill that allowed for electronic sending of ballots to overseas military, but snail mail return of the ballot.

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6:34am

Fri March 8, 2013
State Capitol

Lawmakers Change Schedule-Hope to Avoid Special Session

Kentucky House and Senate leaders have changed the schedule of this year's legislative session, in hopes of  avoiding a special session.  A potential—and costly—special session has loomed over the General Assembly in recent days, as lawmakers continued work on pension reform. Instead of convening Friday, lawmakers will work on Tuesday, with hopes that talks started Thursday night could lead to an agreement on pension reform by then.

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5:19pm

Thu March 7, 2013
State Capitol

Telecommunications Legislation in Limbo

Credit Creative Commons

The commonwealth last deregulated telephone services in 2006.  Now, another effort, prompted by the popularity of cell phones and wireless access to the internet, is underway.   However, opposition from rural residents who worry they’ll lose access to reliable land lines has left the measure in limbo.   Phone companies like A-T-and-T promise they’ll improve cell phone and internet service in rural Kentucky if they can back away from traditional phone services.

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5:20pm

Wed March 6, 2013
State Capitol

Legislative Schedule Up for Debate

There’s an old joke in Frankfort that goes, “Instead of meeting 60 days every two years, the general assembly ought to meet two days every 60 years.” More recently, lawmakers have gathered annually, but there’s talk among some that the old ways are best.  They want to gather for a couple months, every other year.  The discussion is being provoked by a constitutional amendment proposed by western Kentucky Senator Bob Leeper.  Over a decade ago, voters agreed the general assembly should gather every winter.  Now, Leeper, who’s the only independent in the general assembly, would like voters to re-visit that decision.

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5:11pm

Wed March 6, 2013
State Capitol

Lexington Pension Bill Moves to Senate Floor

Lexington’s repair plan for its police and fire pension fund faces one more vote in the General Assembly.  The bill, already approved by the House, won committee approval today and soon goes before the full Senate.  Scott County Senator Damon Thayer, who’s working to fix the state’s pension systems, calls Lexington’s proposal inadequate.

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5:24pm

Tue March 5, 2013
State Capitol

Disability Issues Put Before Lawmakers

The voices of hundreds of disabled Kentuckians were heard  Tuesday at the state capital.  Rally organizers claim a record number of individuals with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities were expected.  Their aim was to leave a lasting impression on the state’s policy makers.  The day began with activists, many with disabilities, filling the hallways at the state capital annex.  They filed into a couple rooms to hear their marching orders.  After getting directions to offices occupied by state lawmakers, they left…hoping to make a case for state services needed by Kentucky’s disabled residents.

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2:32pm

Tue March 5, 2013
State Capitol

Telephone Deregulation Bill Passes Senate

Credit Creative Commons

The recent passage of Senate Bill 88 by the Kentucky state Senate has alarmed some with concerns they may soon find land line telephone service a thing of the past. Senate Bill 88 is directed at deregulating certain aspects of communication services. Lourdes Baez, communications director for the Senate Majority, said this bill will not leave rural homes without access to land lines. “There has been an immense amount of misinformation,” said Baez. According to Baez, there are protections in the bill which will not allow land lines in rural areas to be discontinued.

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5:22pm

Fri March 1, 2013
State Capitol

Beer Cheese and Ale Eight One Bills Progress

Along with pressing issues like State pensions, tax reform, or Medicaid managed care, come some lighter matters at the capital.  The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill to declare Clark County as the birthplace of ‘beer cheese.’  Clark County Senator R.J. Palmer testified to the economics of beer cheese in her community.  “We had six thousand people in Winchester Kentucky for a beer cheese festival.     Six thousand people on Main Street in Winchester. We’ve got time to do these things while we’re here,” said Palmer.

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5:43pm

Thu February 28, 2013
State Capitol

Charter School Bill Goes to Senate Floor

Another attempt at bringing charter schools to Kentucky is making progress in the state Senate.  But, proponents face a bigger challenge in the Kentucky House.  Session after session, Kentucky’s state Senate has endorsed charter schools.  So, it’s not surprising that this winter a charter school bill has cleared the Senate Education Committee. If enacted, charter school would be exempt from many state requirements, with the aim to cut costs and improve education. This year, Senator Mike Wilson is selling the idea such freedom could help schools that persistently perform poorly on achievement tests.

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12:23pm

Thu February 28, 2013
State Capitol

House Approves Pension Overhaul and Funding Bills

The House passed its version of a state pension overhaul bill Wednesday, along with a proposal to help fund the ailing pension system by expanding the Kentucky Lottery and instant racing at horse racetracks. The funding measure — House Bill 416 — received 52 "yes" votes and 47 "no" votes, falling shy of the 60 votes needed for a revenue-generating bill to become law in this year's 30-workday legislative session. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Wednesday that the Senate will not accept the bill because it did not get 60 votes.

12:14pm

Thu February 28, 2013
State Capitol

Senate Committee Advances Fix to Pill Mill Legislation

Credit Creative Commons

A bill addressing issues with 2012's pill mill bill has cleared a state Senate committee, less than a day after it cleared the full House. The bill calls off some regulations of the 2012 House Bill 1, which cracked down on prescription pain clinics and abuse. It also exempts hospitals and long term care facilities from pulling KASPER reports every time they prescribe medication.

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5:35pm

Wed February 27, 2013
State Capitol

House Passes Medicaid Prompt Pay Bill

A bill moving Medicaid managed care late payments to the Department of Insurance's review process has overwhelmingly passed the state House. House Bill 5 passed 99-0 off the floor, after a few technical amendments were added to it. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is the bill sponsor and says his goal is to make sure health care providers start getting paid by Medicaid managed care organizations, which has been a problem since the MCO system was implemented.

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3:33pm

Wed February 27, 2013
State Capitol

Alcohol Sales on Election Day Moving On

Allowing the purchase of alcohol on Election Day is a step closer to reality.  In Kentucky, liquor hasn’t been sold on Election Day since the beginning of prohibition.  Northern Kentucky Senator John Schickel says the measure also allows local voters to restrict alcohol sales.  “It’s my feeling and I think the feeling of the majority of people in the legislature now is that this is a law that’s passed its practical application and it’s small business.  This is a big deal to small business, small tavern owners, small restaurant owners.”

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3:31pm

Wed February 27, 2013
State Capitol

Adult Abuse Legislation Still in Flux

Hoping to prevent the neglect and abuse of elderly patients, lawmakers are working to create a list of qualified caregivers. However, critics say a recent revision will leave the job incomplete.   A measure debated in a state Senate committee sets up what’s known as a ‘clear-to-hire’ list.  It would be an on-line list, open to the public, of workers qualified to care for sick, disabled and elderly adults.  Marsha Hockensmith, who’s with the Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, says it’s a guide, and a comfort, for relatives who need to hire help.

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