Lawmakers taking 3-day President’s Day weekend with pension issue remaining unresolved

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky lawmakers are taking a three-day weekend with the pension issue still unresolved. The General Assembly will not be in session Monday in observance of Presidents’ Day. Sen. Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, expects the pension reform plan that rolls out next week will be met with approval. (Photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today) Senate Majority Leader...

Bill could let legislature limit lawsuit awards; second bill could limit attorney fees in malpractice suits

The Kentucky General Assembly would be able to pass a law limiting the amount of non-economic damages that could be awarded in personal-injury and wrongful-death lawsuits, under a bill moving to a floor vote in the state Senate. The House may block the legislation, but a companion bill approved by another Senate committee Feb. 7 would limit the amount of attorney fees in medical-malpractice lawsuits...

Fifteen states join Bevin administration in seeking to uphold Kentucky’s ultrasound informed-consent law

Fifteen states have filed an amicus brief in support of the Bevin Administration’s defense of a Kentucky law ensuring that women considering an abortion are shown ultrasound images of the unborn child and can listen to the unborn child’s heartbeat. The Kentucky General Assembly passed the informed-consent law by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin during the 2017 legislative session. The amicus...

William McCann: Bevin’s budget is more of the same, legislators must look beyond traditional solutions

Governor Bevin — in his budget address to the Kentucky General Assembly — has called for budget tightening so severe it is going to mean the death of 70 programs and an across-the-board spending cuts of 6.25%. He is saving the principle funding program for K-12 education, SEEK, but asking school districts to pay the majority of the cost of pupil transportation. We’ve seen this movie play...

A range of issues on the table during legislative session; pensions, budget among most pressing

Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol last week to kick off a General Assembly session that’s sure to tackle a wide range of issues. But Capitol observers say there are two issues this year that will likely dominate many discussions: public pension reform and the state budget. Issues concerning the unfunded liabilities associated with the state’s pension systems for public employees received...

First day of General Assembly off to bumpy start, facing big issues; Hoover’s role in House uncertain

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The 2018 General Assembly got off to a bumpy start on Tuesday with some lawmakers unhappy that House Speaker Jeff Hoover has resigned and others upset that he hasn’t. 
Hoover, R-Jamestown, had announced he would give up his leadership post in November after admitting he entered into a settlement with a former House staffer to resolve a sexual harassment claim, but...

Sen. Reginald Thomas pre-files bill to increase minimum wage in Kentucky to $15 by 2025

Senator Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, today pre-filed a bill to raise the minimum wage for workers in Kentucky. The bill calls for staggered increases over the next seven years, bringing the minimum wage up to $15 an hour in 2025. “This issue, in my opinion, should be a top economic priority of the General Assembly,” said Senator Thomas. “This one piece of legislation could do a great deal to...

Deb McGrath: Hidden benefit management practices drive higher prices at the pharmacy for Ky patients

Patients across Kentucky rely on prescription medications to stay healthy. Whether it’s a chronic health condition like epilepsy or a short-term illness, these medications allow Kentuckians to lead more comfortable, productive lives. Most of us are so familiar with the process to fill a prescription that we may not even think much about it. You take your script to the pharmacy, pay your copay or...

Even in decline, coal remains important factor in powering America, industry executive says

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Coal remains an important part of America’s power generating system, according to a group that represents electric companies, coal producers, railroads and manufacturers, called “The Coal Fleet.” Paul Bailey, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, appeared before the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources...

Life’s Lesson: Kentucky state senator Webb has new understanding of the disabled following foot injury

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Robin Webb said she has more compassion for those with disabilities after spending the past six weeks with a cast on her left foot. “I get a little frustrated, but I have a whole new appreciation for people who have to deal with disability every day,” she said. “It almost makes me cry (thinking about it). They grapple with a lot worse than this and keep a smile....

Legislative leaders say progress being made on agreement to shore up public pensions

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Legislative leaders gave no details on a public pension reform plan, saying there is more work to be done before a special session is called. House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, did say they are much closer than three weeks ago. “I would hope that over the next week or 10 days, we would be closer to where we would be in position to make some public announcement. We’re...

Kentucky Senate Republican Caucus elects Wilson to leadership as new majority whip

The Kentucky Senate Republican Caucus announced Friday that Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, has been chosen as the new Majority Whip. He replaces Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, who was selected as the caucus designee to replace Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, as Senate President Pro Tempore, earlier this month. Givens stepped down from his Senate Leadership post in June, citing personal reasons. Sen....

Pair of legislative panels hear sobering accounts of impact of opioid crisis in Kentucky

At one Kentucky hospital, people are actually bringing in heroin and shooting up with patients. That’s one example of the “very desperate situation” the opioid-abuse crisis has created, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson said while testifying before a panel of state legislators Wednesday in the Capitol Annex. He was among more than 25 people from across the country who testified...

Kentucky prosecutors warn against further budget cuts during legislative committee meeting

Kentucky prosecutors told state lawmakers Friday that they have little to nothing to cut from their budgets. Gov. Matt Bevin requested that most state agencies plan to cut around 17 percent from their current budgets in a letter sent to state officials last week. The cuts are expected to save the state around $350 million, state officials say. But prosecutors like Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney...

Bevin asks state agencies for 17 percent budget cuts to cover anticipated $200 million shortfall

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday asked most state agencies to cut their budgets by 17 percent in anticipation of the ongoing budget crisis. John Chilton, Bevin’s budget director, sent a letter to all Constitutional officers, cabinet secretaries and the heads of the legislative and judicial branches on Friday. The cuts are necessary to deal with a $200 million shortfall projected...

Local governments facing major increases in pension contributions unless Legislature acts, Chilton says

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Local governments in Kentucky would pay 50 to 60 percent more next year to fund pensions for workers, unless the General Assembly acts, according to an email to local officials from State Budget Director John Chilton. Without changes by lawmakers to the state’s wobbly pension system, local governments will have to make payments into the County Employees Retirement System...

Legislative leaders say roll back of cost of living adjustments unlikely to be part of pension proposal

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The leaders in the General Assembly said it is not likely that lawmakers will take away cost-of-living adjustment previously given to retirees as part of the overhaul of the Kentucky pension system for public workers. Eliminating the cost-of-living adjustments that state and local government retirees received between 1996 and 2012 was one of the more controversial proposals...

House members go behind closed doors to discuss controversial public pension proposal

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky House members got their first look at the consultant’s report on reforming Kentucky’s troubled public pension plan during a two-hour, closed-door meeting in Frankfort on Tuesday. A report by PFM Group Consulting suggested moving new state government hires to a 401-K type retirement, putting new teachers on the Social Security system, and making those on hazardous...

Special session to deal with state’s underfunded pension system coming in October, speaker says

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Lawmakers will take a long look at the public pension systems in October during a special session, House Speaker Jeff Hoover said Thursday. Hoover addressed reporters prior to the 54th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair. The Public Pension Oversight Board will take recommendations on pension reform prior to a meeting next Tuesday...

Despite potential for budget shortfall, lawmakers say odds are long for approval of casino gambling

By Tom Latek and Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Even with the state facing a projected budget shortfall and an enormous public pension debt, casino gambling remains off the table. “I haven’t heard any discussion of that issue and no one has talked to me about it,” said Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville. “I’ve always opposed gambling, for personal reasons. For me to support any...