FRANKFORT — Justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court have unanimously voted to elect Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. of Bowling Green to a second term as leader of the state's court system. The four-year term begins June 27. Minton was sworn in as Kentucky's fifth chief justice on June 27, 2008, after being elected to the Supreme Court in 2006.
Kentuckians are invited to gather from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the state Capitol to take part in the annual Women’s Health Walk, an event sponsored by the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Frankfort Regional Medical Center and the Kentucky Commission on Women. The event will include opening remarks from Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes and Commission on Women Executive Director Eleanor Jordan. Also included are educational and promotional booths pertaining to women’s health, as well as a walk along Capital Avenue.
A national group that hopes to give voters more choices in this year's presidential election is bringing its campaign to Kentucky. Americans Elect wants to field a presidential ticket in all 50 states. The group will nominate a candidate through a primary online at AmericansElect.org. The group will soon petition to get a candidate on the ballot in Kentucky.
Governor Steve Beshear will once again embark on an international trade mission to Asia. Beshear has made several such trips as governor. His most recent was a visit India last year. This time, Beshear will spend seven days promoting Kentucky industries in Taiwan and Japan.
Despite heavy odds against her in the state senate, a Lexington lawmaker thinks Kentucky cities should be allowed to levy a local sales tax. Democrat Kathy Stein told Lexington council members this week such a tax would benefit local government. “I’m sure that studies could be done to make sure that anything that we did would not harm our tourism business…but I can’t imagine that a penny here or a penny there would harm things…but it would certainly add up in our coffers,” said Stein.
A lobbying group for various drug manufacturers has set a record for money spent during a Kentucky legislative session. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent nearly half a million dollars between January and March lobbying against a bill aimed at curbing meth production by limiting pseudoephedrine purchases. According to the Legislative Branch Ethics Commission, that’s a new yearly record, and there’s still one month of accounting left to do. Further, the group’s advertising expenses weren’t included, meaning the CHPA likely spent millions fighting the bill, which ultimately passed.
A key part of the Affordable Care Act will be implemented by executive order in Kentucky, if the healthcare law is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Exchanges in which residents can purchase insurance are a major part of the law. Each state must have an exchange, and if states don't set them up, the federal government will.
A national battle between two legislative groups has reached Kentucky. The advocacy group Common Cause is asking federal agencies to remove the non-profit tax-exempt status of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC provides lawmakers with sample legislation and talking points, often to promote conservative issues, and Common Cause says the organization is a lobbying group.
For the first time in a generation, Kentucky courts will temporarily close due to budget cuts. All state court employees will be furloughed on August 6, September 4, and October 15 of this year. Chief Justice John Minton says except for holidays, this will be the first time since 1976 that the courts have closed.
Gov. Steve Beshear, joined by bill-sponsor Sen. Ken Winters, children’s advocates and former foster youths, Monday signed a bill that will enhance protections and support for foster children as they transition to adulthood. “These are some of our most vulnerable kids – those who are moving from state-sponsored care to the responsibility of adulthood, and we must give them the best chance for a successful transition,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office.
An audit of former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's administration has revealed multiple abuses of state resources. The report says the former University of Kentucky basketball star illegally hired friends and family, used department resources for Christmas gifts and made state employees mow his yard and build a basketball court at his home on state time.
An audit of Richie Farmer's two terms as Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner has revealed a toxic culture of entitlement and an extravagant misuse of taxpayers dollars, state employees and time. Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer requested the audit earlier this year. State Auditor Adam Edelen released his final report today, showing more than a dozen infractions by Farmer and a consistent abuse of state law.
Two 24-year-old Democrats from opposite ends of the Commonwealth hope to be the newest and youngest members of the General Assembly next year. Kendrick Bryan is from Elizabethtown and hopes to unseat longtime lawmaker Jimmie Lee. Tyler Murphy is from Greenup County and is challenging state representative Tonya Pullin. Bryan and Murphy’s bids for office come after a trio of young Republicans in their 20s successfully ran for the state House two years ago.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is adding his voice to one of President Barack Obama’s top campaign issues. The president spoke at two college campuses this week urging Congress to prevent an automatic rate hike in interest on student loans from taking effect. Now, Beshear has penned a letter to all six members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, asking for them to take action to block the increase.
A decision is expected within six weeks over whether Instant Racing is legal in Kentucky. The state’s Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case today. Instant Racing is a slots-like game that Kentucky racetracks hope to use to boost race purses. But the Family Foundation of Kentucky says the game isn’t pari-mutuel betting like horse racing, but instead is closer to a slot machine.
Kentucky lawmakers and Governor Steve Beshear are applauding the passage of a bill aimed at reducing prescription pill abuse. Beshear signed the pill bill today, inviting key legislators and law enforcement officers to take part in the ceremony. The new law isn’t as tough as some had hoped. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says changes can always be made later.
After spending 65 days in Frankfort, Kentucky lawmakers can once again point to strong new drug laws as their signature achievements. The General Assembly passed bills cracking down on synthetic drugs, prescription abuse and meth production.
The seventh straight special session in Frankfort has ended with agreements on a transportation budget and House Bill 1, dubbed the “pill mill bill.” The former survived after eleventh hour negotiations between the House and Senate produced a watered down compromise. The revised bill keeps KASPER, the state’s drug tracking database, under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and does not move it to the Attorney General’s office, as was originally planned. But the bill guarantees funding for KASPER’s expansion.
State Auditor Adam Edelen plans in the near future to launch a "massive undertaking" to bring the state's special taxing districts to heel, but he's going to need your help to do it. That's the message he brought to the Henderson Rotary Club Thursday. There are 45 different categories of special taxing districts governed by about 50 different state laws, he said. "We're going to find out who has been audited as they should be by law and who has not filed the proper documentation with the Department of Local Government."
A Kentucky Senate committee’s amendment to the state transportation budget could take the special session off course. Lawmakers are in special session in part to pass a funding mechanism for the state road plan. But Senate President David Williams declined to take up the issue until Governor Steve Beshear acted on the unfunded road plan that passed previously. Beshear did so this week, issuing line item vetoes that make projects in Williams’s district a lower priority for the state.
A bill aimed at cracking down on prescription pill abuse could be stalled once again in the Kentucky Senate. Senate leaders say they are still reviewing the bill, which would enhance the KASPER tracking system and make it part of the attorney general’s office. The chamber is taking an extra day to look over the bill and has scheduled a committee meeting for tomorrow, what was supposed to be the last day of the special session.
The Democratic-led House passed a measure Wednesday that supporters hope will curtail Kentucky's prescription pill addiction, but the bill's future in the Republican-led Senate remains uncertain. House Bill 1 would allow only doctors to own pain clinics and would move the state's prescription electronic monitoring system from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to Attorney General Jack Conway's office. But many of the "no" votes in the House, where the bill passed 70-28, were cast by Republicans, who questioned whether the attorney general's office was given too much power over the state's doctors.
Kentucky Senate President David Williams says Governor Steve Beshear’s latest action on the state road plan will not lead to an extended special session. Governor Steve Beshear has changed the two-year road plan to give projects in Williams’s district a lower priority. Those were the only modifications the governor made. Williams had promised not to consider a bill to fund the road plan until Beshear acted on the unfunded measure. Despite his displeasure with Beshear’s move, Williams says the Senate will approve a funding bill and should adjourn the special session within five days.
After reviewing nearly 400 pages of road project legislation, Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday exercised his line-item veto authority, returning some projects to their original funding sources in order to restore fairness and equity to the Road Plan legislation. Wednesday’s action on the Road Plan also eliminates the Senate’s single stated reason for not passing the Transportation budget, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Governor Steve Beshear signed Kentucky’s six-year road plan this afternoon and vetoed several projects in the state's two-year road plan. According to a release from Beshear’s office, the line item vetoes in the two-year plan are only in Senate President David Williams' district. This comes on the heels of a public feud between the two politicians, with both accusing the other of political posturing. The governor's office says the vetoes were necessary because Williams moved his projects to the front of the line. Beshear says the vetoes weren't politically motivated and do not remove any projects from the plan, but rather make some of the projects in Williams’s district a lower priority, in the interest of fairness to other districts.
The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed both bills on its agenda for this year’s special session. House lawmakers approved both the road plan funding bill and a measure to crack down on prescription pill abuse today by wide margins. The more contentious of the two bills was the prescription pill legislation. The House and Senate reached a compromise at the end of the regular session, but the House chose to introduce the original and tougher form for the special session.
The House is set to vote Wednesday on a more than $4.5 billion transportation budget bill and a measure aimed at curbing prescription pain pill abuse after the proposals cleared separate committees on Tuesday. House Bill 2, the transportation operating budget, and House Bill 1, the prescription drug measure, are the sole pieces of legislation to be considered in the special legislative session that started Monday. It's unclear how long the special session will last.
The prospect of bridge tolls is once again dominating the discussion of an infrastructure bill in the Kentucky General Assembly. The House Budget Committee passed a road plan funding bill Tuesday. But before voting, lawmakers questioned the need for tolls on bridges in Louisville and Northern Kentucky. Committee members asked whether the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville would be tolled to help fund new spans downtown and in the city's east end. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says that was discussed, but it’s unlikely.
The prospect of bridge tolls is once again dominating the discussion of an infrastructure bill in the Kentucky General Assembly. The House Budget Committee passed a road plan funding bill today. But before voting, lawmakers questioned the need for tolls on bridges in Louisville and Northern Kentucky. Committee members asked whether the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville would be tolled to help fund new spans downtown and in the city's east end. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says that was discussed, but it’s unlikely.
Kentucky Senate President David Williams is renewing his call for Governor Steve Beshear to act quickly on an unfunded road plan that cleared the legislature last week. The road plan outlines the state’s transportation projects for the coming years. Beshear called lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session after they failed to approve funding for the latest plan. The Senate gaveled in the first day of the special session Monday afternoon, introducing four bills.