State Capitol

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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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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