With legislative redistricting behind them, many lawmakers say it’s time to reform the process for redrawing those boundaries. Some, like Richmond representative Rita Smart think a change in the state’s constitution is the answer. When asked about specific suggestions, Smart said last week more study is need to determine what needs to change. Smart has an ally in House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
Come 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly will likely consider ‘animal protection’ legislation. Melodie Zentall is with the Kentucky Coalition for Animal Protection. She says the Commonwealth ranks poorly when it comes to watching over its animals. “We are ranked 50th, dead last by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, that’s a national group. They look at animal protective laws across the nation, Kentucky is ranked dead last, dead last,” said Zentall.
FRANKFORT— Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), confers with Senate Democratic Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
WEKU's Stu Johnson reports on the special session's final day.
FRANKFORT: New legislative boundaries for 138 members of the general assembly have been approved by the general assembly and signed into law by Kentucky’s governor. The final votes in favor of legislative redistricting were overwhelming; 35 to two in the Kentucky Senate and 79 to 18 in the House. Most of the debate occured as the full Senate took its first vote on the bill. Senate President Robert Stivers says the impact of these new district boundaries will be seen across the Commonwealth.
Madison County Legislator Rita Smart telling House lawmakers the current redistricting process doesn't provide proper representation.
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News
WEKU's Stu Johnson reports on the reservations expressed by some lawmakers over new legislative districts.
The Kentucky House has adopted new boundaries for its 100 members, but not without some lawmaker grumbling. The bill to redraw legislative boundaries passed the full house 83 to 17. Before the votes were cast, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told colleagues there was no intent to punish anyone or either political party.
The leader of the Kentucky House says he doesn’t have the power to discipline any lawmaker who serves in his chamber. House Speaker Greg Stumbo also says he has no direct knowledge of complaints filed by two statehouse staffers against against Sturgis Representative John Arnold. The two women, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner accuse Arnold of a pattern of sexual assault and harassment dating back to 2010. Stumbo says his office was contacted by LRC director Bobby Sherman.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A legislative redistricting bill has breezed through the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Legislative leaders removed many of the partisan overtones that had been in previous proposals, a move that led to broader support among rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties. The House passed the bill 83-17 Wednesday morning. The Senate is expected to rush the measure to a vote on Friday.
Two longtime Kentucky statehouse employees have filed ethics complaints against Democratic state Rep. John A. Arnold Jr., alleging a pattern of sexual assault and harassment dating back to early 2010. Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, in separate complaints, allege Arnold inappropriately touched them and made lewd and vulgar comments in numerous incidents over several years. Arnold is a veteran legislator from Sturgis. Read more...
FRANKFORT— Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, discusses a plan to redraw legislative district boundaries during a meeting of the House Committee on State Government.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
A legislative redistricting bill is expected to get a vote on the House floor this morning. House Speaker Greg Stumbo predicted that it will pass overwhelmingly and be sent to the Senate to be acted on by Friday. The House State Government Committee approved the measure 25-4 on Tuesday.
FRANKFORT— Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland (right), discusses legislation with Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
A rally today in Frankfort urged state leaders to spend surplus dollars on programs that provide child care. Since April, no new additions have been made to the list of low-income families eligible for child care or kinship care assistance. That’s when the governor ordered cuts in both programs. Without a restoration of funding, Michelle Sanborn with Children’s Alliance predicts more foster parents will be needed.
FRANKFORT— House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg (left), confers with House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown (right) as House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, looks on.
Credit Legislative Research Commission
Kentucky’s aviation industry is looking for some tax relief. Airport representatives came to Frankfort today for National Aviation Day. Kentucky Aviation Association President Rob Barnett says Kentucky’s aviation industry lags behind its neighbors and needs state assistance.
House Republican leader Jeff Hoover unveils House GOP plan for redistricting.
Credit Jack Brammer / Lexington Herald Leader
House Republicans unveiled a legislative redistricting plan Thursday that places eight current House members together — one district with two Republicans, one district with two Democrats and two districts with incumbents from both parties. The GOP plan, introduced 11 days before a special legislative session on redistricting begins in the state Capitol, also splits 24 counties — the minimum number required by the Kentucky Supreme Court and splits only two precincts in the entire state. It does not divide any districts three ways as some plans have. Read more...
Kentucky drivers will soon be assessed three "penalty points" against their licenses each time they're convicted of texting while driving. The new penalty will be enacted through administrative regulations ordered by Gov. Steve Beshear, who announced the change in Louisville on Wednesday morning. Drivers rack up points against their licenses upon a conviction on various highway law violations—three points for speeding 11 to 15 miles per hour on a limited access highway, for example. Read more...
Governor Beshear is reacting to state audit findings today which are highly critical of the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management. The Lexington Herald Leader reports the audit shows more than five million dollars were spent on alcohol, entertainment, hotels and other items. The document also states agency workers were told to stay quiet about it.
Prior to serving on the Court of Appeals, Judge Allison Jones presided over workers’ compensation claims as an administrative law judge.
Credit Commonwealth of Kentucky
A former administrative law judge from Oldham County has been appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Gov. Steve Beshear's office announced Monday that he appointed Allison Jones to fill the unexpired term of Justice Michelle M. Keller, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court in April.
Kentucky corrections officials say they failed to take DNA samples from between 6,300 and 7,000 felons as required by law over a four-year period. Justice Cabinet Secretary and Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said during a news conference Thursday in Frankfort that they are now trying to locate about 3,900 people no longer in state custody or on probation or parole to take samples from them.
The agency that's home to most of Kentucky's human services and health care programs is seeking public input to help reconstruct its website. The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services is offering an online survey for Kentuckians to fill out. Cabinet officials are seeking feedback on how to improve the usability and features of the agency's website.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he's been surprised by the progress made in fighting prescription drug abuse in the year since a state law took aim at the problem. Beshear told reporters Thursday that the law has made some "swift changes" in combating a chronic state problem.
The push to abolish Kentucky constables will continue in the 2014 legislative session, despite failed efforts in recent years. Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, said Tuesday he will reintroduce a constitutional amendment in the 2014 session that would give fiscal courts authority to eliminate the office of constable by ordinance. Franklin County has six constables, who have law enforcement powers similar to sheriffs by law. They largely perform fee-based duties such as serving court paperwork and traffic control.
For another year, property tax rates in Kentucky remain unchanged. WEKU's Stu Johnson reports.
Property owners across the Commonwealth will once again pay just over 12 cents for every 100 dollars in land value. So, a homeowner with a 100-thousand dollar house would pay 120-dollars in property tax next year. The property tax rate is set by the State Department of Revenue and Policy Advisor Tom Crawford says that tax rate’s been constant for several years.
WEKU's Stu Johnson reports nearly no action expected on state tax reform.
In just over a month, lawmakers are back in Frankfort for a special session on new boundaries for Kentucky’s legislative districts. But, there are no plans yet to resolve another issue facing the state.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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...