A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Appalachian Hospitality Group playing vital role in Harlan County’s future with operation of historic inn

By Joshua Ball For Kentucky Today Travis Warf’s first job was a dishwasher at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn. Some three decades later, he runs the historic inn located in this small community in Harlan County. “I knew there was something special about this place when I worked here as a teenager,” said Warf. “The building is steeped in history and tradition, and is something that, I believe, can...

Andy Beshear makes it official: On tour around state, he announces his bid for governor’s office

Staff report Democrat Andy Beshear started a statewide tour Monday and Tuesday to talk about the “future of Kentucky” with the announcement he will run for governor. Attorney General Andy Beshear makes it official: He’s running for governor. (Kentucky Today/Tom Latek) He pledged to bring Kentuckians together to invest in public education, attract better-paying jobs, more aggressively...

Bevin issues 11 pardons over Independence Day week, including man convicted 40 years ago

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Eleven Kentuckians, including a northern Kentucky man convicted nearly 40 years ago for receiving stolen property, were granted pardons from Gov. Matt Bevin during the holiday week, just as he did last year when issuing 10 pardons during the Independence Day week. Gov. Matt Bevin issued 11 pardons this week. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today) 
Pardons were granted to...

Sixty Kentucky Air National Guardsmen return home safely after deployment to Persian Gulf

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today (Photos from Kentucky National Guard) It was an especially happy Fourth of July for the families of more than 60 Kentucky Air National Guard members who returned from their four-month Persian Gulf deployment on Wednesday. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, had been working from an undisclosed air base, flying troops and cargo across...

Officials more optimistic about state retirement systems during oversight board appearance

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Despite studies showing they are among the worst-funded pension programs in the nation, officials with some of the state’s retirement systems gave an optimistic outlook during appearances before the Public Pension Oversight Board this week. David Eager, executive director of the Kentucky Retirement Systems or KRS, told the panel on Monday that while they forecast that...

Kentucky State Police say Poor People’s Campaign lacked proper permit to protest inside Capitol

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today There’s a simple explanation why teachers were allowed to protest inside the Capitol this spring and the Poor People’s Campaign was not allowed to protest inside in three separate rallies, Kentucky State Police said.   The Poor People’s Campaign only applied for a permit that let them use the front steps of the Capitol while the teachers filled out the proper paperwork...

Bipartisan panel formed to craft Kentucky’s sports wagering legislation in wake of Supreme Court ruling

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A bipartisan House and Senate panel has been formed to craft legislation to allow sports wagering in Kentucky. A decision last month by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow states to decide their own fate of sports betting means, for the first time since 1992, wagering on sports will not be limited to only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Lawmakers are forming a panel to...

Conn pleads guilty to new conspiracy charges before a federal court

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today An eastern Kentucky attorney, who was already facing 12 years in prison for defrauding the Social Security Administration of more than $550 million, will likely get even more time behind bars. File photo Eric Conn, 58, of Pikeville, pleaded guilty on Monday before U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves at U. S. District Court in Lexington to conspiracy to defraud the United...

Ten Kentucky counties under outbreak status for Hepatitis A; 629 cases reported since November

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Hepatitis A outbreak has become a concern for people because the virus is so rare, yet 10 counties in Kentucky are currently under outbreak status and will receive extra funds for vaccines, a state official said. 
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard provided an update on the situation Thursday on Facebook Live with the heavily traveled Memorial Day...

Secretary of State projects voter turnout in primary election could be 30 percent, highest since 2010

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting a 30 percent voter turnout in next week’s primary election, the highest since the 2010 primary. “Next Tuesday, I think you will see a Kentucky electorate that is beginning to get up, get out, and get loud with voters making their voices heard at the polls,” said Grimes. “We have witnessed dismal...

Congressman Andy Barr bringing representatives in bid to designate Camp Nelson a national monument

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr will be bringing officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior to central Kentucky this weekend in his ongoing effort to have Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park designated a national monument. National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith will join Barr and local leaders on Saturday at the southern Jessamine County site for a...

Record high $8.4 million spent by lobbyists in first three months of 2018 General Assembly

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Spending by lobbyists during the first three months of the 2018 General Assembly reached an all-time high. According to the Legislative Ethics Commission, $8.4 million – a 17 percent increase over 2017 at the same time – was spent by lobbyists, led by tobacco tax, energy and healthcare issues. The top spender during the first quarter of 2018 was Altria, one of...

Franklin Circuit Court rules against disqualifying attorney general’s office from pension lawsuit

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A motion to disqualify Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office from pursuing the lawsuit he filed to throw out the pension reform bill was denied in Franklin Circuit Court on Wednesday. Steve Pitt, counsel to Gov. Matt Bevin, sought to disqualify Beshear and his office because he sent a letter to each legislator warning them that Senate Bill 1, the original pension reform...

Senate Majority Leader McConnell on midterm elections: ‘The wind is going to be in our face’

By Roger Alford Kentucky Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was instrumental in marshaling forces to pass the largest tax overhaul in 30 years to spur an economic resurgence. Yet, that doesn’t top McConnell’s list of what he considers his most consequential political accomplishments as the Senate’s top lawmaker. Top of the list for him is the rapid confirmations of conservative judges...

Conference Committee of 20 men pour over state budget, to meet Monday; legislature about Tuesday

While most members of the Kentucky General Assembly are enjoying a recess until Tuesday, a group of 20 House and Senate members are trying to hash out an agreement on a state spending plan for the next two years.   The Budget Conference Committee began work shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, going line by line over the budget documents. In the past, the media and public have been kept out of the proceedings,...

More than a thousand teachers, public school employees rally at Capitol to make voices heard

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A cold, blustery day failed to keep well more than a thousand teachers and other public school employees from a rally on the front steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday. Most of the attendees were from eastern and northeastern Kentucky, where several school districts closed so teachers could rally to preserve their pensions and funding for education. Teachers from across...

Bevin uses social media to ask state workers to pressure lawmakers over troubled pension plan

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Gov. Matt Bevin turned to his Facebook page Saturday night to ask current and retired state workers to put pressure on lawmakers to act on the troubled public pension plan. Bevin’s four-minute video said if structural changes aren’t made, the teachers’ retirement system will be out of money in 12 to 15 years. “You should be very concerned,’’ he said. “I’m...

Once Frankfort’s tallest building, Capitol Tower Plaza comes tumbling down Sunday with implosion

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today In a matter of seconds, what once was Frankfort’s tallest building is now a pile of rubble. The Capital Tower Plaza, a 27-story, 330-foot building that was 46 years old, came tumbling down after being imploded on Sunday. Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum called it a milestone for the city of Frankfort, Franklin County and the state. The Capital...

Beshear files lawsuit against third opioid distributor for funneling prescription painkillers into state

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a third lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest opioid distributors he says has funneled massive amounts of prescription painkillers into the state and especially rural eastern Kentucky. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, alleges Ohio-based Cardinal Health has helped fuel Kentucky’s opioid epidemic,...

Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne says ‘Incredibly difficult budget’ taking longer than expected

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, R-Prospect, said he expects action on a public pension reform plan “soon,” and vowed to get the budget bill to the Senate faster than usual. “The last I checked with our budget director, the last scoring has not yet come back that we requested,” he said. “I hoped it would have been back by now, but I still haven’t seen it.” House...