A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State Senator Dorsey Ridley calls judges ruling on public Pension bill the right decision for Kentucky

State Senator Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, called last week’s ruling by the Franklin County Circuit Court striking down Senate Bill 151, the public pension bill, the right decision. The bill was found to be “unconstitutional and void.” Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that SB 151 violates the Kentucky Constitution because it did not receive three readings on three...

Sen. Dorsey Ridley says Supreme Court’s decision on online sales tax good for Kentucky

Senator Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson is hailing the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow states to require online retailers to collect tax revenue owed to them. Senator Ridley has been working through the Kentucky General Assembly, its leaders and past governors to get to this stage, which will result in added revenue for the commonwealth. “This is a big deal for Kentucky,” said Senator Ridley....

This Week in Frankfort: $22 billion biennial budget to Governor; adoption, foster care, road bills pass

This week, lawmakers fulfilled a main duty the state constitution requires of them as final approval was given to a state budget that will guide more than $22 billion worth of spending over the next two years.   The budget plan does not include all of the program cuts that received much attention when they were unveiled in the governor’s original budget plan. Rather, lawmakers approved a tax measure...

LRC announces finalists for 2018 Vic Hellard Jr. Award honoring nonpartisan legislative staff

Though their job duties varied greatly during careers at the Legislative Research Commission (LRC), Gordon Adkins, Joyce Honaker, and Jim Swain all now share a common distinction: Each was announced today as a finalist for the 2018 Vic Hellard Jr. Award, the highest honor given by LRC. The Hellard Award is given each year to someone who served the LRC with skill, dedication, professionalism, integrity,...

LRC’s Week at the State Capitol: First measure approved by GA is proposed victims’ bill of rights

The first bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly this year is a measure that will allow voters to decide on a “bill of rights” for crime victims. Senate Bill 3, more commonly known as Marsy’s Law, proposes adding a section to the Kentucky Constitution to give crime victims constitutional rights similar to those afforded to the convicted or accused. The right to notice of proceedings,...

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...

Sen. Julian Carroll pre-files bill to improve internal mobility for both full-time, part-time state employees

Senator Julian M. Carroll, D-Frankfort, has pre-filed legislation that, if approved during the 2018 Regular Session, would add an administrative regulation regarding the internal mobility program for state employees. Sen. Julian Carroll Under this legislation, Bill Request 409 (BR 409) would not differentiate between full-time and part-time existing state employees in filling full-time positions. The...

Sen. Reggie Thomas pre-files bill to allow in-person early voting three Saturdays preceding any election

Senator Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, has pre-filed legislation that, if approved in the 2018 Regular Session, would allow in-person early voting three Saturdays preceding any primary, general, or special election. Reggie Thomas Bill Request 49 (BR 49) would allow qualified Kentucky voters in their county of residence to cast their ballot in-person any time between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.,...

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...

Ashley Spalding: Kentucky’s preschool, kindergarten programs effective but need greater investment

High quality early childhood education has long been understood to be an important investment with a significant return. While our state has done more in recent years to expand access to preschool and full-day kindergarten, a new report from the state Legislative Research Commission shows there is real need for additional investments. Preschool The report describes how effective our state’s preschool...

Sen. Julian Carroll files bill to allow sports wagering at horse racing tracks, off-track wagering facilites

Kentucky residents may soon be able to wager on their favorite sports team. A bill filed today by Senator Julian M. Carroll, D-Frankfort, sets the framework to allow any horse racing track or off-track wagering facility to offer sports wagering. The majority of revenue generated from sports wagering will be deposited into the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems Non-Hazardous and Kentucky Teachers’...

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...

Civil rights groups, Black Legislative Caucus to rally Wednesday for removal of Jefferson Davis statue

Members of the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus (KBLC), the NAACP, the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (KBC-LEO) will sponsor a statewide rally Wednesday. The event will begin 11: at30 a.m. Wednesday in the Capitol rotunda to voice their support for the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue...

New state laws, including charter schools, stronger opioid penalties set to take effect June 29

Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2017 regular session will go into effect on Thursday, June 29. The Kentucky Constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature unless they have a special effective date, are general appropriations measures, or include an emergency clause that makes them effective immediately upon becoming...

People in the News: Joynt named president of KyCPA; Fayette diabetes program nationally accredited

Kevin Joynt, CPA, was recognized as president of the Kentucky Society of CPAs (KyCPA) at its Leadership Luncheon and Annual Members Meeting at The Olmsted in Louisville. He officially begins his duties July 1. Joynt is the managing director of Deloitte and Touche LLP’s Louisville office. He has more than 18 years of experience providing audit, accounting, consulting, and tax services to clients...

Real ID, measures to allow surplus Humvees on the road among Kentucky laws taking effect

Coming to Kentucky roads this year: surplus military Humvees, three-wheeled vehicles dubbed autocycles and maybe even golf carts modified to deliver online purchases. Legislation addressing these three types of vehicles were among the transportation-related bills passed during this year’s regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly, said Rick Taylor, the deputy commissioner of the Department...

Bevin’s Red Tape Reduction initiative eliminates over 65 ‘obsolete’ boards and commissions

Gov. Matt Bevin, as part of his Red Tape Reduction initiative, has signed documents to eliminate more than 65 obsolete, inactive and superseded boards and commissions. A 2012 Legislative Research Commission (LRC) study identified 571 boards, commissions and similar entities such as authorities, councils and committees in Kentucky—a figure “nearly twice the number of the typical state.” Gov. Matt...

General Assembly overrides four vetoes issued by Bevin; education bill headed for signature

Four vetoes issued by Gov. Matt Bevin in recent days were overridden by the Kentucky General Assembly, allowing the legislation to pass into law. The governor had vetoed Senate Bill 91, Senate Joint Resolution 57 and House Bill 540, as well as a portion of House Bill 471. The Senate and House voted to reject the vetoes by wide margins earlier today, the second-to-last day of the General Assembly’s...

Longtime legislative staff administrator Sheila Mason named 2017 Vic Hellard Jr. Award winner

A veteran Legislative Research Commission (LRC) staff member who has mentored hundreds of college students through a legislative intern program has been named the winner of the 2017 Vic Hellard Jr. Award. Sheila Mason, who serves as LRC’s Legislative Record Compiler and Legislative Intern Coordinator, was chosen for the award that bears the name of a longtime LRC director. Hellard was known as champion...

Ethics Reporter: Lobbyist spending for General Assembly reached all-time high of $20.8 million

Lobbying spending in Kentucky hit an all-time high in 2016, as $20.8 million was paid by businesses, organizations, and lobbyists pursuing their interests with the General Assembly. In the largest spending category, $18.7 million was spent last year by employers compensating lobbyists, a 10 percent increase over the $16.8 million in compensation paid in 2014, the previous even-numbered year with a...