A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Highway Plan prioritizes 1,000 bridge repairs, 5,000 miles of pavement improvements

Kentucky’s 2018 Highway Plan will prioritize spending on more than 1,000 bridge repairs and 5,000 miles of pavement improvements during the next six years. “The recently enacted six-year Highway Plan represents the most balanced approach released by Kentucky in decades for addressing the Commonwealth’s transportation needs,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “This data-driven plan moves us in the right...

Kentucky lawmakers override governor’s vetoes as teachers watch from the gallery, protest outside

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky General Assembly overrode three major vetoes from Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday when thousands of teachers again made their presence felt in the Capitol, showing up to call for more money for education and protesting changes to their pension plan. Lawmakers voted to override three of Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes on Friday. (LRC photo) Lawmakers overturned vetoes...

Cigarette tax hike of 50 cents per pack is largest ever in Ky. but will do little to cut smoking, advocates say

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As part of a larger tax bill, the Kentucky General Assembly voted April 2 to increase the state’s cigarette tax by 50 cents, to $1.10 per pack. That fell short of the $1 increase wanted by health advocates, who bemoaned “a missed opportunity” to improve the health of Kentuckians. And in the final hours, legislative leaders dropped a plan to...

Early results of state’s 2017 Industrial Hemp Pilot Project reveals multi-million dollar economic impact

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday at the annual conference of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA) that preliminary analysis of the 2017 Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program reveals a multi-million-dollar economic impact for the state. According to early analysis of the 2017 processor production reports, Kentucky licensed processors paid Kentucky growers $7.5 million...

This Week in Frankfort: With just eight days remaining, legislature still has budget issue looming

The first piece of legislation to pass a legislative chamber this week dealt with making playground equipment accessible to all children. One of the final bills of the week to advance through a chamber focused on the mental health of students. In between, lawmakers cast votes on a range of topics including bike safety, health care, prayer, and teen marriage.   It was a particularly busy week at the...

Bill Straub: A billion here, a billion there adds up, but even KY House tax plan doesn’t go far enough

Legend has it that Winston Churchill, trying to draw the United States into WWII, famously said you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. Apparently old Winnie, in his travels, never made it to the Bluegrass where, having tried ad infinitum to escape that which needs to be done, continues on its merry way ignoring its responsibilities and...

Secretary of State leads Board of Elections in move to require voter-verified paper trails in Kentucky

The State Board of Elections on the recommendation of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday moved to require all future election equipment purchased in Kentucky to provide a voter-verified paper trail. “The Board of Elections takes the integrity of our Kentucky elections very seriously, and we want Kentucky voters to be assured that their votes count and the results are accurate,”...

Kentucky Bluegrass Cannabis launches statewide grassroots campaign to promote medical marijuana

Kentucky Bluegrass Cannabis, LLC has launched a statewide grassroots campaign seeking to pass legislation that will legalize, regulate, and tax medical marijuana in Kentucky. The campaign – known as Compassionate Access and Relief Effectiveness (CARE) for Kentucky – advocates that citizens and policymakers support legislation currently before the Kentucky General Assembly to legalize medical cannabis. The...

Lobbying on cigarette tax ramps up with foundation ads and tobacco firms use of farmers, retailers

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News If activity by lobbying interests is any indication, the idea of raising the state cigarette tax $1 a pack is an active idea among members of the Kentucky General Assembly. The main group advocating the tax increase, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, reported spending more than any other lobby during the first month of the session. Its total of $100,240 was not...

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...