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.
The state’s classification of its cities could be significantly modified under legislation being promoted by the Kentucky League of Cities. Currently there are six different classes...all based on a city's population. League of Cities Director Jonathan Steiner says the proposal cuts the number of classifications in half.
New revenue in Kentucky’s upcoming biennial budget will not be enough to account for an estimated $450 million shortfall. Lawmakers expect about $230 million in new revenue to be available for the budget. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo recently told a group of Kentucky’s top business leaders that more than half of that money will be used to pay down the state’s pension debt.
A former western Kentucky lawmaker is not expected to face sanctions from the House over allegations that he sexually harassed legislative staffers. A House investigative committee voted 3-2 along party lines today to adjourn without taking any action against former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis. The committee concluded it has no legal authority because Arnold has already resigned.
Kentucky legislative leaders are moving forward with an audit of the state’s largest bureaucracy. Kentucky House and Senate leaders hired the National Conference of State Legislatures to conduct an audit of the Legislative Research Commission, which has come under fire over its handling of employee harassment complaints. Taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $42,000 for the review.
Thomas and his supporters celebrate the senatorial win
For the first time, an African American will represent Fayette County in the Kentucky state senate. Democrat Reginald Thomas easily won Tuesday’s special election. He will finish the unexpired term of Kathy Stein, who now serves as a Fayette County judge. Thomas defeated former Lexington council member Richard Moloney and Republican minister Michael Johnson.
State revenues exceed expectations but budget officials say they won’t be enough to satisfy the need. State Budget Director Jane Driskell offered a financial report Monday in Lexington during the annual Kentucky Chamber Legislative Preview. By the end of June, state income will likely run 130-million over budget. But Driskell says the amount needed to cover the growing costs in areas like Medicaid, teacher retirements, and education is much higher than the available monies.
Next Tuesday’s special election in Lexington pits Democrat Reginald Thomas, Republican Michael Johnson, and Independent Richard Moloney in a race for the state senate. The winner will replace former State Senator Kathy Stein, who’s now a family court judge. The community’s next representative will have a part to play in the revitalization of downtown Lexington, including a major overhaul of Rupp Arena.
The three candidates in the special senatorial election in Lexington offer their thoughts about the Rupp Arena and convention center projects
Kentucky's top judge will ask for more funding to bring justice cabinet salaries in line with those of the legislative and executive branches. Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton will present a budget overview and a request for additional money to lawmakers today in Frankfort.
Just a week after a Louisville lawmaker pre-field expanded gaming legislation, opposition to it is already starting to take shape. Stan Cave is a former Republican House member and an attorney for the anti-gaming Family Foundation. He says that recent expanded gaming bills from Democratic Rep. Larry Clark do little to protect the thoroughbred industry, and would pave the way for casino interests to control Kentucky politics.
A Kentucky lawmaker has filed a pair of bills that will again bring the issue of expanded gaming before the General Assembly. State Rep. Larry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, has pre-filed legislation that would place a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2014 ballot asking Kentucky voters if they permit "the General Assembly to pass laws authorizing casino gaming?” according to language in BR 108.
A new report measuring the level of equality afforded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans shows substantial improvements in the Kentucky cities measured, said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday released its second annual Municipal Equality Index, examining laws and policies that foster LGBT equality in nearly 300 American cities and awarded them points on a scale of 0-100.
Hemp supporters will rally in Washington D.C. today. They want Congress to lift a federal ban on the plant for industrial use. Earlier this year Kentucky lawmakers approved the research and cultivation of hemp. It has yet to be implemented because the federal government still considers the crop a controlled substance.
Public Protection Secretary Robert Vance has been honored for the "highest level" of ethical standards by a watchdog panel that oversees the behavior of executive branch staffers. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission recently presented Vance with the Livingston Taylor Ethics Award.
Floyd Grover Johnson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on multiple drug trafficking charges in Powell County. But in his appeal, Floyd successfully argued that because the investigation leading to his indictment was conducted solely by uninvited law enforcement agencies outside of Powell County—including detectives from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and officers working for Operation UNITE, an anti-drug enforcement non-profit founded by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-5—then his 2009 indictment should be moot.
Lawmakers unanimously approved a contract today to hire attorneys to represent a state agency in a pair of sexual harassment lawsuits. The Government Contract Review Committee approved a $115,000 contract to hire the Lexington-based firm Landrum and Shouse to represent the Legislative Research Commission in a pair of lawsuits brought by female staffers, who’ve alleged that the LRC did little to address their complaints against former lawmaker John Arnold and Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia.
Among the litany of conscious-consumer labels like “certified organic” and “fair trade,” you might already be familiar with the Kentucky-specific “Homegrown by Heroes.” That logo tells you, for example, that the jar of Eastern Kentucky sorghum was produced by farmers who served in America’s armed forces.
Bell County Clerk Rebecca Blevins and three others from her office were accused Friday of theft from Kentuckians who purchased automobiles out of state. Instead of receiving a tax rebate form the clerk’s office like they were supposed to, Blevins allegedly kept the money, said the attorney general's office. Kentucky State Police and the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigation executed a warrant Friday morning against Blevins.
FRANKFORT—The first hearing in the sexual harassment lawsuit against former state Rep. John Arnold and elements of Kentucky state government revolved Wednesday around determining which parties should be accused. The hearing resulted in a delay in the trial until later this month.
The governor's secretary, Debi Gall, receives the petition from Sister Claire McGowan.
Credit Jonathan Meador / Kentucky Public Radio
FRANKFORT—Opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky delivered a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office Tuesday morning, citing concerns over the project's impact on the state's environment and asking the governor to block it.
An independent Kentucky panel in charge of reviewing child abuse cases is requesting $420,000 from the state’s budget to perform its duties. The Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel was created following criticism of accountability and transparency in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which deals with child abuse cases. Read more...
FRANKFORT— Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, poses a question during the October meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
Through an easier exchange of computerized health records, state officials hope to lower traffic at emergency rooms and save millions of dollars. The initiative is aimed at patients known as ‘super utilizers’
Just before the federal government declared default, the U.S. Senate announced Wednesday afternoon it reached a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and get the federal government working again. But the Senate must still vote on the measure and so must the House of Representatives. Only then can a bill emerge that President Obama must sign -- before midnight tonight.
Potential Lexington Senate Candidates left to right, Richard Moloney, Reginald Thomas, Chuck Ellinger.
Credit Lexington Herald Leader
Three people are mentioned as possible successors to Kentucky State Senator Kathy Stein. The governor this week named the Lexington Democrat to a judicial post in Fayette County. Richard Moloney has experience in local and state government. During his time in Frankfort, Moloney says he worked well with lawmakers from both parties on proposed fee increases.
A select committee investigating sexual harassment complaints against a former lawmaker will consider sending letters to all legislative staffers inviting them to come forward with grievances. Members of the panel will vote on that proposal from Republican state Rep. Robert Benvenuti next Wednesday.