State Capitol

4:31pm

Mon June 25, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Signs Bill for Metal Recyclers

LOUISVILLE – Metal recyclers in Kentucky will soon be required to register and keep records of their purchases under legislation sponsored by Rep. Tanya Pullin which becomes law July 12. During a ceremonial signing of House Bill 390 Monday at the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Third Division, Gov. Steve Beshear said the bill will ensure that recyclers are not inadvertently receiving stolen metal such as copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, lead or zinc.

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7:54pm

Tue June 19, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Signs Mine Safety Bill

PIKEVILLE – Miners who fail a drug-alcohol test will no longer be allowed to work in Kentucky mines after their third offense as the result of legislation passed in the 2012 General Assembly and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear. House Bill 385, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, of Providence, amends the current process for testing miners by the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. The legislation updates the 11-panel test, giving the Mine Safety Review Commission authority to add additional compounds to the test, and creates a three-strike policy for miners who continue to fail drug and alcohol tests.

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1:39pm

Fri June 15, 2012
State Capitol

Court of Appeals Rules on Instant Racing

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling that would've allowed instant racing at horse tracks in Kentucky.  But the court is not saying instant racing is illegal. In a split decision, the appeals court ruled that the circuit court did not allow a proper hearing on the game—which allows gamblers to wager on slot-machine like terminals with the outcomes relying on historic horse racing data—because opponents of instant racing were not allowed to gather and present evidence for their side. The main group opposing instant racing is the Family Foundation, which has fought the expansion of gambling in Kentucky for years. Foundation Executive Director Kent Ostrander says the ruling will help his group prove Instant Racing is too similar to slot machine gambling to be legal in the commonwealth. 

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12:29pm

Fri June 8, 2012
State Capitol

State Leader Suffered Abuse as Child

One of Kentucky's leading voices against child abuse is speaking out about abuse he suffered as a child. State Rep. Tom Burch is the chairman of the House Health and Welfare committee. Burch wrote a letter to the Lexington Herald-Leader that mentioned that he was sexually abused by a priest as a middle schooler and was also physically abused by his father.

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9:30am

Thu June 7, 2012
State Capitol

Facing Foreclosure, Richie Farmer Selling House

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who faces a foreclosure lawsuit on a mortgage loan of more than $300,000, is trying to sell his Frankfort house. A "for sale by owner" sign is in the front yard of the Farmer house, off U.S. 127 North at 113 Cedar Ridge.No one returned messages when calls were made Wednesday to a phone number on the sign. Records show that the number is assigned to a mobile phone in Manchester, Farmer's hometown.

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3:07pm

Wed June 6, 2012
State Capitol

Auditor Eyes Special District Spending

The state auditor Wednesday announced a statewide sweep of all special districts to increase accountability of how the funds are used in each district. Auditor Adam Edelen says the residents of the state will have a clearer picture of how many special districts there are statewide – levying between $500 million and $1.5 billion in taxes and fees annually – and how they spend their money. The findings will be made into an electronic database by the end of the year.

7:52am

Tue June 5, 2012
State Capitol

Assessing Current Tax Reform Efforts

A Lexington state representative with a history of tax reform interest says the current panel studying the issue is quite different in its makeup.  Bill Farmer was one of four guests on K-E-T’S Kentucky Tonight Monday.  The veteran lawmaker says tax professionals are not a key part of the process..  “When they set up this commission, they specifically left out all practicing attorneys all practicing accountants..so they could have people outside the industries that are most affected by the tax laws..and I think what he wanted was a truly citizen based group of stakeholders who are at a level where they can articulate the needs of the specific constituencies that they represent,” said Farmer.

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4:50pm

Fri June 1, 2012
State Capitol

Victims of 2010 Pike County Flood File Lawsuit

Harless Creek resident Janie Caudill holds a picture of her home after flood waters washed it away in July 2010. Erica Peterson

Residents in Eastern Kentucky whose homes were flooded in 2010 have filed suit against the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. They say the flooding was caused by an unreclaimed surface mine site, and the state allowed the mine operator to violate the law. Most people living on Harless Creek in Pike County lost everything when the area flooded two years ago. They say the flood was mostly caused by runoff from a nearby surface mine where  the mining company hadn't followed state law and replaced soil and vegetation on the site.

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4:17pm

Thu May 31, 2012
State Capitol

State to Address Concerns with Outdoor Tents

FRANKFORT – In the past year, sudden and dangerous storms caused eight deaths and several dozen more injuries during the collapse of an outdoor concert stage at the Indiana State Fair and a beer tent in St. Louis. These events have prompted the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction (HBC) to join with industry representatives to form a committee to elevate the discussion over whether such tents and structures need closer scrutiny and whether building codes should be enhanced, according to a press release from the state's Public Protection Cabinet.

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4:10pm

Thu May 31, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Signs Synthetic Drug Bill

HOPKINSVILLE – Saying the law would help Kentucky stay one step ahead of backyard chemists who constantly change the formulas of banned drugs to keep them legal, Gov. Steve Beshear Thursday ceremonially signed House Bill 481, which bans whole classes of synthetic drugs. The new law, which was passed by lawmakers in this year’s legislative session, targets substances that are often sold as bath salts and potpourri but which have harmful and hallucinogenic effects.

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3:31pm

Wed May 30, 2012
State Capitol

Groundbreaking Held for New Emergency Operations Center

Adjutant Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini speaks about the extension to the National Guard's Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning. Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson also addressed the crowd.
Dylan Buell/The State Journal

Government and military representatives officially broke ground Tuesday on the state’s new $9.8 million Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort that officials say will help them be more efficient during natural disasters and state and federal emergencies. At present, emergency personnel are located in several spots across Frankfort. The new facility will bring them under one roof.

4:00pm

Tue May 29, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Creates Coal Scholarship Program

Governor Steve Beshear has created a program lawmakers could not. The governor has released four million dollars to be given as scholarships to Eastern Kentucky college students. Lawmakers wrestled with several scholarship proposals during the last legislative session, but an agreement was never passed. “Kentuckians recognize the importance of completing a college degree, and more and more people are pursuing higher education,” says Beshear in a release.

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3:57pm

Tue May 29, 2012
State Capitol

Beshear Signs Bills Supporting Education

VERSAILLES – Gov. Steve Beshear joined lawmakers and school children Tuesday at the Woodford County Early Childhood Center to sign two bills related to education innovation and strategies. House Bill 37, sponsored by Rep. Carl Rollins, allows school districts to apply to become a “District of Innovation.” This designation will allow the districts more flexibility in curriculum, instructional models, funding and school scheduling.

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2:51pm

Tue May 29, 2012
State Capitol

Medicaid Managed Care Audit

After months of mounting problems, State Auditor Adam Edelen says he will launch a full investigation into Kentucky’s statewide Medicaid Managed Care system.   Edelen created a Medicaid task force in February after taking a first look at the managed care system. He also gave recommendations to managed care companies, health care providers and the state on how to make the system run better in the future.

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9:36am

Tue May 29, 2012
State Capitol

Edelen to Audit Private Medicaid Operators

After months of mounting problems, State Auditor Adam Edelen says he will launch a full investigation into Kentucky’s statewide Medicaid Managed Care system. Edelen created a Medicaid task force in February after taking a first look at the managed care system. He also gave recommendations to managed care companies, health care providers and the state on how to make the system run better in the future.

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9:57pm

Tue May 22, 2012
State Capitol

Most of Legislature's Incumbents Survive Primary

At least one incumbent member of the Kentucky House will not be returning to Frankfort next year. Republican-turned-Democrat Wade Hurt has lost his primary to union activist Jeff Donohue. Wade ran as a Republican in 2010 against Donohue, who has remained a Democrat. Hurt switched parties shortly after that election, saying it would help him better serve his district.

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2:22pm

Thu May 17, 2012
State Capitol

Kentucky Supreme Court Reelects Minton Chief Justice

Chief Supreme Court Justice John D. Minton.
Lexington Herald Leader

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.

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3:21pm

Wed May 16, 2012
State Capitol

Women's Health Walk at State Capitol

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.

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2:43am

Mon May 14, 2012
State Capitol

Third Party Wants Part in Presidential Politics

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.

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2:04pm

Fri May 11, 2012
State Capitol

Governor Off to Asia on Trade Trip

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.

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12:27pm

Thu May 10, 2012
State Capitol

Local Sales Tax Talk

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.

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4:04pm

Thu May 3, 2012
State Capitol

Drug Group Sets Record for Lobbying Expenses

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.

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12:36pm

Thu May 3, 2012
State Capitol

If Court Agrees, Governor Ready to Act on Health Reforms

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.

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3:55pm

Wed May 2, 2012
State Capitol

Battle over ALEC Reaches Commonwealth

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.

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1:31pm

Wed May 2, 2012
State Capitol

Budget Cuts Delay Justice

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.

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2:11pm

Tue May 1, 2012
State Capitol

Bill Supporting Foster Children Signed by Beshear

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.

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1:37pm

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

Former Ag Commissioner Accused of Criminal Misdeeds

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.

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10:01am

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

State Audit Bashes Former Ag Commissioner

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.

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12:00am

Mon April 30, 2012
State Capitol

Young Turks Make Run at General Assembly

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.

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11:48am

Fri April 27, 2012
State Capitol

College Loan Rates Concern Kentucky Governor

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.

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