State Capitol

5:23am

Fri August 17, 2012
State Capitol

Special Taxing Districts Under Review

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen is encouraging local officials to help him find out about the state’s hundreds of special taxing districts.  A special taxing district is a quasi-governmental agency—such as a local sewer system or public library—that gets its funds from a separate tax.  No one knows how many such districts there are in the state. And since the spring, Edelen has set out to find and catalog all of the districts, then see if any are abusing public funds.

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11:48am

Wed August 15, 2012
State Capitol

Major Tax Overhaul Unlikely in Kentucky

The chair of Kentucky’s tax commission says a sweeping overhaul of the state's tax code isn't in the works. Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson says, in his heart, he wants to see a major change in the tax code.

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5:57am

Wed August 15, 2012
State Capitol

Alcoholic Beverage Choices in Groceries Could Change

A federal judge's ruling could open the door to the sale of hard liquor and wine in grocery stores.  Currently state law allows grocery stores to only sell beer, while liquor stores and drug stores can sell beer, wine and liquor. After years of unsuccessful lobbying to change the law, grocery associations sued in federal court last year. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II in Louisville handed down a ruling in their favor today, declaring that the ban is unconstitutional.

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6:22am

Mon August 13, 2012
State Capitol

Governor Shocked by Sudden Death of Chief of Staff

Mike Haydon, Governor Beshear’s chief of staff passed away over the weekend.  In a statement, the governor said ‘Jane and I are shocked and devastated by the sudden death of my chief of staff and good friend, Mike Hayden.’   The Lexington Herald reports Hayden suffered a heart attack.  The 62 year old Hayden spent more than 30 years in public service at both the state and local level.

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4:14pm

Tue August 7, 2012
State Capitol

Access to Forage Eased For Drought-Stricken Farms

Drought-stricken Kentucky farmers in need of hay or other forages for their livestock can seek help through a state Department of Agriculture website. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says a forage sales directory is up and running that can match up farmers with forages for sale with those whose pastures and fields have been dried up by the drought.    A similar program is also available for farmers in Indiana.

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3:34pm

Wed August 1, 2012
State Capitol

Tamper Resistant Drivers Licenses

FRANKFORT – Kentucky begins a transition to a new driver’s license this month that, while similar in appearance to current licenses, contains security features for greater protection of privacy and resistance to tampering.

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12:31pm

Mon July 30, 2012
State Capitol

Kentucky Courthouse Closures

One week from today , courthouses across the commonwealth will be closed.   The closures are part of a cost saving measure.  The Kentucky Judicial Branch shuts down on August sixth for the first of three furlough days this year.  Leigh Ann Hiatt with the state Administrative Office of the Courts says the furloughs are part of the state’s budget reduction plan.  “No judicial center or courthouse in Kentucky will be open that day.  It also means, just in general, you can’t get a new driver’s license or one renewed,” said Hiatt.

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5:45am

Fri July 27, 2012
State Capitol

A Trimmed State Surplus Reported

Despite accounting mistakes and unforeseen disaster relief expenses, state government is closing the 2012 budget with another surplus. Originally, the budgetary surplus was 83 million dollars, now it's almost halved to 45 million dollars.  State Budget Director Mary Lassiter informed lawmakers of the surplus at an interim committee meeting today. And she says the remaining surplus will be put into the legislature’s savings account.

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4:39pm

Thu July 26, 2012
State Capitol

HB 463 Early Results are Mixed

Kentucky’s Justice Cabinet secretary says a 2011 law meant to reduce state prison costs is producing mixed results.

Secretary J. Michael Brown says arrests are down and in its first year in action, and less convicts passed through state prisons.

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3:31pm

Wed July 25, 2012
State Capitol

Kentucky Pensions Lose Millions to Banking Scandal

A former financial planner for the Kentucky Pension Systems says an international banking scandal is leading to millions of dollars in losses for Kentucky agencies. Financial analyst Chris Tobe believes the pension systems have lost money due to the false interest rates associated with the LIBOR banking scandal.

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1:53pm

Mon July 23, 2012
State Capitol

First "Visual Step" in Bridges Project Demolished

Gov. Beshear and Lt Gov. Jerry Abramson walk past one of the two buildings that will be preserved.
Louisville Public Media

Several buildings along Main Street across from Louisville Slugger Field have sat empty for more than a quarter of a century. Graffiti decorates the walls inside and outside of the complex, which state officials have deemed contaminated. The buildings also stand in the way of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

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5:13pm

Thu July 19, 2012
State Capitol

Alleged Trafficker Caught in Frankfort

A Frankfort man fell asleep behind the wheel of his car at a busy local intersection and woke up to face charges of trafficking in pills, a prosecutor says. Joseph Smith, 35, was idling at the traffic light at a downtown Frankfort intersection on June 30, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said Wednesday. “He’s just sitting there,” Cleveland said. “The police officer approaches because the light changes a couple times and he doesn’t move.”

5:11pm

Thu July 19, 2012
State Capitol

Task Force Created to Reform Alcohol Laws

FRANKFORT – Citing concerns that alcoholic beverage laws in Kentucky are outdated and sometimes contradictory, Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the creation of the Governor’s Task Force on the Study of Kentucky’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws.

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2:47pm

Thu July 19, 2012
State Capitol

Task Force to Modernize ABC Laws

FRANKFORT – Citing concerns that alcoholic beverage laws in Kentucky are outdated and sometimes contradictory, Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the creation of the Governor’s Task Force on the Study of Kentucky’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws.

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4:56pm

Wed July 18, 2012
State Capitol

State's High Court will Decide Instant Gaming

Supporters of instant racing in Kentucky are once again trying to take their case to the state supreme court. Instant racing games allow players to wager on previously-run horse races using slot-machine like-devices. The Franklin Circuit Court previously ruled that the games are legal, but an appeals court sent the decision back, saying  the anti-gambling Family Foundation should've been allowed to gather evidence in the case.  Now horse industry officials are appealing that decision in hopes of taking the case to the state supreme court.

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9:33am

Tue July 17, 2012
State Capitol

Landlord Liable in Dog Attack

Andrew Fuller, 10, holds the lion costume he was wearing in 2009 when he was attacked by a neighbor's dog near his home on West 13th Street in Newport.
Kentucky Enquirer

The Kentucky Supreme Court has issued a potentially groundbreaking opinion that a landlord can be held liable when a tenant’s dog attacks someone, but the ruling didn’t help a Newport family that brought the lawsuit. Kentucky landlords may now be forced to pay higher premiums for their insurance, may be less likely to allow tenants to have dogs or may more strictly enforce policies that tenants carry renter’s insurance, say landlords’ advocates.

5:38pm

Mon July 16, 2012
State Capitol

Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel Created

FRANKFORT – In order to ensure that state agencies meet the policies and standards expected in cases of child abuse and neglect, Gov. Steve Beshear Monday issued an executive order to establish the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel. The independent, multi-disciplinary panel will conduct comprehensive reviews of child fatalities and near fatalities that are determined to be the result of child abuse or neglect.

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2:05pm

Mon July 16, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Holds Firm on Healthcare Reforms

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is not joining other Kentucky  officials in calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Many leading Republicans in the state—including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—have pushed for full repeal of the healthcare law. But in an interview with NPR, Beshear said they're playing politics.

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1:57pm

Mon July 16, 2012
State Capitol

Vets Celebrated by New Scott County Park

GEORGETOWN – Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson Monday joined federal, state and local leaders at a dedication ceremony to officially open the state’s newest wildlife recreation area, in Scott County, for public hunting, fishing, hiking and sightseeing. The Veterans Memorial Wildlife Management Area, named in honor of veterans, will be managed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and will offer hunting opportunities for deer, turkeys and small game, such as squirrels.

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1:07pm

Sun July 15, 2012
State Capitol

State Board to Further Investigate Richie Farmer

The Personnel Board will formally investigate alleged personnel abuses at the Department of Agriculture under Richie Farmer – many of which were uncovered in the blistering audit released earlier this year. The board voted unanimously Friday to open an investigation into personnel matters found in Auditor Adam Edelen’s report on the department during Farmer’s second and final term as commissioner, which ended in 2011.

3:30pm

Wed July 11, 2012
State Capitol

Injured Lawmaker Dewayne Bunch dies

Former Republican state lawmaker Dewayne Bunch, who suffered a severe head injury last year while trying to break up a fight at Whitley County High School, has died. Bunch, 50, resigned his seat last year after being critically injured in April 2011. He was trying to stop a fight between two students as breakfast was being served at the school, where he had taught math and science for 17 years. His wife, Regina Bunch, was the only candidate from either party to seek his seat in a special election.

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2:20pm

Tue July 10, 2012
State Capitol

Appeals Court Orders Records Release

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has denied a request from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that would further prevent the release of certain child abuse records. Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered the Cabinet to release nearly 180 case documents earlier this year. The Cabinet released some documents but redacted information that could be useful in determining whether the agency is operating appropriately.

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2:07pm

Tue July 10, 2012
State Capitol

State Finishes Fiscal Year in Black

Despite dim outlooks, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has turned a budget surplus for the second year in a row. The last fiscal year closed with  an additional $83 million  in  the General Fund. The road fund has a $31 million  surplus. The extra revenue has two potential uses. First, the state can make emergency payments, like putting additional money to cleaning up tornado damage in Eastern Kentucky.

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4:19pm

Mon July 9, 2012
State Capitol

Lawmaker Seeks End to Election Day Prohibition

For the fifth time, a Northern Kentucky lawmaker will attempt to undo a ban on alcohol sales on election days. Currently, no alcohol can be served or sold while polls are open. Representative Arnold Simpson has filed legislation to scrap the ban four times in the past. And Friday, he will once again present the proposal to an interim legislative committee. Many states originally passed such bans in order to crack down on voter fraud and vote buying. Now, South Carolina is the only other state that still bans alcohol sales on election days.

12:00am

Mon July 9, 2012
State Capitol

Tax Reform Commission Status Report

Kentucky’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission is continuing its road show to get citizen input on what changes should be made to the tax code.   The 23-member group has visited Paducah and Bowling Green so far.  Its halfway point in the travel meetings is Tuesday in Louisville.  The commission’s chairman, Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, says that two public input meetings haven’t yielded definite changes yet. But he says one of the biggest questions citizens have is why there are so many exemptions in the tax code. “And then you have these anomalies, there’s 161 pages of tax exemptions and they haven’t been looked at in maybe, forever, and lobbyists have had them put in session after session going all the way back to the 1930’s and 1940’s.”

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3:05pm

Thu July 5, 2012
State Capitol

Medical Marijuana Bill Proposed Again

A Louisville lawmaker is again preparing to unveil legislation that he will introduce in next year's legislative session that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes.  Louisville’s Democratic state Sen. Perry Clark is promoting what he has dubbed the "Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act." “One of his favorite statements was it’s food, fuel, fiber and medicine and I think we’re finding that out from all the research and everything that we find," said Clark.

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1:01pm

Tue July 3, 2012
State Capitol

State Property Taxes Remain the Same

The state property tax bill delivered to homeowners this fall will look familiar.  This year’s tax rate of just over 12-cents per 100 dollar assessed property value has remained unchanged since 2008.  Decades ago, state lawmakers limited the size of property tax increases.   David Gordan with the State Department of Revenue says the state property tax rate was once 30 cents.

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9:23am

Tue July 3, 2012
State Capitol

Pension Task Force Meets

A group of Kentucky lawmakers has a new summer assignment…shoring up the state’s failing pension systems. At least two of Kentucky’s six pension plans are at a high risk for failure. And their troubles have been highlighted by Bloomberg, the New York Times and the Pew Center. In response, the state has formed a public pension task force. Co-chairman Mike Cherry says he's dedicated to find a solution, and it may not be pretty.

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8:15am

Thu June 28, 2012
State Capitol

New Medicaid Commissioner Named

After two years of interim leadership, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has a permanent Medicaid Commissioner.  Lawrence Kissner is the current CEO of Magnolia Health Plan, a managed care operator in Mississippi. He will start as Kentucky's new Medicaid commissioner July 1.

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3:14pm

Tue June 26, 2012
State Capitol

Cost of Redistricting Court Fight

Legislative leaders are going to take another crack at approving payments to lawyers who fought to defend last year’s redistricting maps.  The Legislative Research Commission hired the attorneys earlier this year to fend off challenges to new district maps. The attorneys were unsuccessful.  At the last scheduled LRC meeting, absences allowed minority leaders to block approval of payment to the attorneys.

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