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...

Longtime KFB governmental affairs specialist Alvey joins Kentucky Distillers’ Association

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced that Bryan Alvey, a respected governmental affairs specialist with more than 15 years’ experience in legislative advocacy, has joined the organization as Senior Director of Governmental and External Affairs. Alvey, 45, comes to the KDA from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, where he has been Director of Local Affairs and Policy Development since...

Change in law sought to allow students to sample alcoholic beverages as part of educational program

Universities across Kentucky are offering classes in distilling, brewing and wine making, but students can’t necessarily taste the spirits they’re studying in class – even if they’re of drinking age. Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, said he wanted to address that in testimony Friday before the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations. He spoke...

Bevin launches new website highlighting public pension issues in advance of special session

The Office of the State Budget Director launched a comprehensive new website aimed at keeping Kentuckians informed, as the Bevin Administration works with state legislators to address the Commonwealth’s public employee pension crisis. Visitors to KentuckyPensions.com can obtain answers to frequently asked questions, view detailed reports and a glossary of key terms, follow the latest developments,...

Foundation for Healthy Kentucky’s Chandler gives legislature overview of state’s health challenges

Citing the need for Kentucky to move from a health care rescue system that treats patients once they become acutely ill to a system that promotes health on the front end, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky outlined several policy measures to improve Kentucky’s relatively poor health compared to the rest of the nation.   The presentation made by President and CEO Ben Chandler at Wednesday’s...

Budget officials predict bleak outlook for Kentucky’s financial situation as new fiscal year gets underway

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State budget officials painted a bleak outlook for Kentucky’s financial situation for the fiscal year that began this month. In other words, be prepared to tighten belts. Two weeks ago, because of a $152 million shortfall, Gov. Matt Bevin implemented a 1 percent spending cut across most state agencies and renegotiated contracts with managed care organizations to fill the...

Former Gov. Carroll says he won’t resign amid sexual misconduct allegations; no ethics violations filed

Embattled state Sen. Julian Carroll had indicated he’s going nowhere.   “Absolutely no resignation, no resignation,” Carroll said to reporters from the Lexington Herald-Leader and CNHI News as he was leaving the Capitol Annex cafeteria. 
 His close friend and lawyer Bill Johnson told The State Journal in Frankfort on Tuesday he didn’t expect the 86-year-old former governor to resign over...