Secretary of State launches new online candidate filing portal for 2018 election cycle

The candidate filing period for the 2018 election cycle has opened and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is encouraging potential candidates to use a new online filing portal on the Secretary of State’s website. “The 2018 election cycle is what’s known in Kentucky as a county election year, so it will feature thousands of candidates,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s...

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....

Republican lawmaker Westerfield files to begin fundraising for 2019 state attorney general race

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Republican Whitney Westerfield will make a second run for attorney general, filing a letter of intent with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Tuesday so that he can begin raising money for the campaign two years ahead of the 2019 election cycle. Westerfield came up short by a razor-thin margin in his initial bid for the post in November 2015, losing to incumbent...

Senate Democrats remove Carroll from leadership, call for resignation in wake of sex allegations

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Senate Democrats have voted to remove Sen. Julian Carroll from his leadership post and called for him to resign altogether after a Louisville cable TV news show aired a salacious report alleging he groped a Frankfort man a decade ago. The 86-year old Carroll, a former governor, is a well-known political figure in Kentucky. He served in the Kentucky House from 1962-1971,...

Legislative Wrapup: General Assembly winds up 2017 session by passing flurry of late bills

The 2017 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly ended Thursday evening shortly before midnight after months of work that led to passage of over 130 bills that will impact most areas of Kentucky life, from public education to the fight against drug abuse. Most new laws – those that come from legislation that don’t contain emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will...

Legislative Update: Approval of charter schools, nuclear power plant construction among highlights

This has been a year for early arrivals at the State Capitol. Within a week of the 2017 legislative session’s start in January, bills started arriving in the governor’s office to be signed into law, an extraordinarily quick start for a session of the General Assembly. We’ve had more early arrivals at the Capitol in recent weeks as hundreds of the tulips in the Capitol gardens have already started...

Legislative Briefs: Postsecondary education funding bill approved; toxicology measure okayed

State funding for Kentucky public colleges and universities would be allocated based on the schools’ performance under a bill now on its way to becoming law. Funding would be based on student success, course completion, and school operational needs under the comprehensive funding model created by Senate Bill 153, sponsored by President Pro Tem David Givens, R-Greensburg, with initial distributions...

Legislative Update: Passage of enhanced ID, religious freedom bills among week’s highlights

As the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly headed into its final weeks, legislators moved closer to the possibility of resolving the state’s “REAL ID” issue, as well as allowing public charter schools to operate in the Commonwealth. A REAL ID is an enhanced driver’s license that includes new security features mandated by the federal government as an anti-terrorism measure. If the...

Legislative Briefs: School calendar bill heads to governor; shock probation rules tightened

A bill that would give school districts more leeway in setting school calendars is on its way to the governor’s desk after passing the Kentucky House Wednesday. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would allow school districts to operate on a “variable student instructional year” that would offer the same 1,062 or more hours of instructional time that’s...

Legislative Briefs: REAL ID compliance bill advances to Senate; ‘Tim Tebow’ measure gets House approval

The Kentucky House voted 77-19 Tuesday to create “voluntary travel ID” cards that would meet federal REAL ID requirements, while also voting to change procedures for issuance of standard Kentucky driver’s licenses and permits. House Bill 410, sponsored by Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, would create the voluntary travel ID—an enhanced driver’s license that could be used to board airplanes...

Legislative Update: Improving, protecting the lives of children the focus of legislative work last week

Improving the lives of Kentucky’s children was on the minds of the state’s legislators this week as several bills made their way through the General Assembly. Included were measures to stabilize the lives of children in foster care, stem the tide of young people being recruited into criminal gangs, and broaden the scope of background checks for adults who work in proximity with children. Senate...

Legislative Briefs: New veterans’ home bill passes; Senate approves juvenile record expungement bill

The Kentucky Senate has approved a measure that marks a step toward building a nursing home for veterans in Bowling Green. Senate Bill 13, which passed 37-0, authorizes $10 million in state bond funds to construct the Bowling Green Veterans’ Center Nursing Home. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will also provide $20 million in federal funding for the project, said Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling...

Legislative Briefs: Medical review panel bill passes House; Senate approves nuclear power measure

Medical malpractice lawsuits can now be filed in Kentucky at any time. But under a bill passed narrowly Wednesday by the Kentucky House, peer review of malpractice cases would be required before they could go to court. “Medical review panels” proposed under Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, would be required to review any malpractice complaint against a health provider...

Legislative Update: Public pension, higher education measures highlight General Assembly’s week

With the first half of the General Assembly’s 2017 session in the rear view mirror, some of the session’s major bills have already passed into law while matters like criminal justice reform and education initiatives continue to make steady progress through the legislative process. Further work on strengthening the state’s troubled public pension system was among the matters that advanced in the...

Legislative Briefs: House passes student athlete safety bill, food donation measure, dog bite law

The House passed legislation Wednesday to strengthen concussion protocol for student athletes across the Commonwealth. House Bill 241 would disallow coaches from returning a student to play after receiving a concussion diagnosis. The issue was brought about by recent concerns over student safety in sports, where concussions have been on the rise as of late. For example, many former football players...

Legislative Update: Measures addressing heroin, illegal opioids highlight week of action

Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate. In-state newspapers have recently reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national...

State Senate approves sweeping education reform bill; measure moves to House for consideration

The Kentucky Senate passed a measure Friday that could result in the rewriting of public school lesson plans and tests in favor of a locally-centric form of educating. After the approval of Senate Bill 1, dubbed the let the teacher teach act, Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, hailed the moment as the day in which Kentucky set a successful course for its public school curriculum. “Our No. 1 resource...

Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee; Senate passes smoke free schools measure

FRANKFORT—A bill that would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky has passed the House Judiciary Committee. Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, a pain killer now frequently imported for illegal street sales, and drugs derived from fentanyl as well as carfentanil—a large animal anesthetic...

Commentary: In the rush to flex legislative muscle, debate on the issues allowed to fall by the wayside

By Sen. Reginald Thomas Special to KyForward FRANKFORT—As is customary during the first week of a 30-day session, the Kentucky General Assembly concentrated on performing organizational activities such as electing leadership and appointing committees. However, on day two of the 2017 Legislative Session, we quickly turned to the business of holding hearings in committees and by Saturday, we had passed...

Commentary: Senate Bill 1 really about giving more control schools, state and teachers

By Sen. Mike Wilson Special to KyForward Based on consistent messages from Kentucky public school educators, this is not a time to halt or apply the brakes on adopting Senate Bill 1, but a time to step on the accelerator. Since 2009, political posturing, artificial accountability, and bureaucratic burdens have “halted” practitioners long enough. First, SB 1 attempts to reduce political influences...