A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lextran Kicks off Black History Month with reserved seat on each bus in honor of Rosa Parks

Lextran is kicking off Black History Month with a reserved seat on each bus honoring Rosa Parks through Friday, February 7. The reserved seats feature a poster with a picture of Parks as well as a QR code, courtesy of the Lexington Public Library, which will direct riders to adult, young adult, and children’s books about Parks. The poster also includes a brief explanation of the reserved seat. ...

City of Lexington’s annual count shows those experiencing homelessness dropped by 12.5 percent

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Lexington dropped by 12.5% between 2019 and 2020, according to LexCount, the City’s annual point-in-time count. This year’s count, required by federal agencies, took place on Wednesday, Jan. 29, with 153 local volunteers covering 75 areas across the county. “We’ve made progress, but we know we still have work to do,” said Mayor Linda Gorton,...

This Week in Frankfort: A wrap-up of what went on — from governor’s budget to issues moving forward

By Robert Weber Legislative Research Commission The biggest issue of the General Assembly’s 2020 session came to the forefront this week as lawmakers received a state budget proposal from Gov. Andy Beshear. Now that the proposal is in legislators’ hands, members of budget subcommittees are digging into the two-year spending plan to fully understand how it would impact state finances, programs,...

Braidy Industries announces Bouchard to step down; president Tom Modrowski named interim CEO

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Braidy Industries Chairman and CEO Craig Bouchard will step down from his position, the company announced Thursday. Bouchard, the company founder, will remain a member of the Braidy Industries Board of Directors. The company is named after one of Bouchard’s daughters. The company still plans on building the $1.7 billion rolling aluminum mill near Ashland. President...

Billy Reed, legendary Kentucky sportswriter and journalist, joins KyForward as sports columnist

Legendary sportswriter Billy Reed is joining the KyForward’s strong stable of experienced journalists as a weekly columnist writing on all things sports. Reed reported for the Louisville Courier Journal and for Sports Illustrated for many years, covering 15 sports and earning the cover spot on SI 12 times. “KyForward welcomes Billy Reed to our team,” said Jacob Clabes, KyForward...

House bill would tax e-cigarettes, currently the only tobacco products not subject to state excise tax

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky lawmakers are considering putting an excise tax on e-cigarettes sold in the Commonwealth. The tax would be equal to the current tax on traditional cigarettes, which is $1.10 per pack. State Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, the bill’s primary sponsor, said his colleagues are struggling to come up with a state budget amid the worst projected revenue...

Beshear unveils ‘Education First’ budget ending 14 years of cuts; funds health, pensions, social workers

Gov. Andy Beshear outlined his first budget to lawmakers on Tuesday prioritizing education, health care and protecting our children, underlining his belief that a budget is a statement of values. “It is a budget that not only ends years of painful cuts, it also makes a major investment in public education, fully funds expanded Medicaid, makes a historic investment in protecting our children, directs...

Quarles asks Ky’s congressional delegation to help with FDA’s ‘bureaucratic paralysis’ surrounding hemp

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles is calling upon the state’s Congressional delegation to help what he terms the “bureaucratic paralysis” by the Food and Drug Administration which says is hindering Kentucky’s burgeoning hemp industry. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has run into some roadblocks in help the hemp industry in Kentucky. (Kentucky...

Kentucky could look to neighboring West Virginia for lessons on funding public pension system

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service As state lawmakers continue to grapple with funding teacher pensions, some say lessons from neighboring West Virginia can offer insight into whether or not Kentucky should switch to a defined-contribution retirement plan for teachers or uphold its public pension system. There are more than 40,000 public school teachers in Kentucky. (Image from Adobe Stock, via...

Nathaniel Jones, retired federal judge and civil rights icon, died Sunday at his home in Cincinnati

Staff report Nathaniel Jones, a retired federal judge and civil rights icon, died Sunday morning of congestive heart failure at his home in East Walnut Hills. He was 93. Judge Jones lived in Cincinnati and distinguished himself as a lawyer, judge, public servant and community-engaged citizen throughout his stellar career. He was a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1979 until...

Planned Parenthood re-applies for clinic license for EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today An action by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to end a lawsuit filed by the administration of former Gov. Matt Bevin could open the door to at least one more abortion clinic in Kentucky. The lawsuit had claimed that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky had illegally performed abortions in December 2015 and January 2016. However, in a January 3 letter sent...

Kentucky no longer worst for animal protection laws; Mississippi ranked last in national report

For the first time in 13 years, Kentucky does not rank as the worst state for animal protection laws. That is according to the annual U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a legal advocacy organization for animals. Instead, Mississippi now ranks 50th with the country’s weakest animal protection laws. The longest-running report of its kind, the...

Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport sets record, serves nearly 1.5 million passengers during 2019

A record number of passengers traveled through Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport in 2019. As the primary air transportation provider for Central Kentucky, Blue Grass Airport saw 1,465,049 total passengers — enplanements of 735,564 and deplanements of 729,485. This is a 7.6 percent total passenger increase over 2018 and is the eighth consecutive year the airport has seen a record number of travelers. The...

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital to close by Sept. 30, costing 1,000 jobs in Ashland area

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in the Ashland suburb of Russell will close by Sept. 30, says the Bon Secours Health System, which operates it. The 214-bed hospital opened in 1953, when Ashland and Russell were booming with steel, railroad and petrochemcial industries. Now, the hospital cannot “effectively operate in an environment that has multiple acute care facilities competing for the same...

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Leaky Bucket update shows state still struggling to slow spending

Kentucky continues to struggle to slow state spending in key areas that are diverting funds from investments in education, according to a new report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. The Leaky Bucket: 10 Years Later, released Tuesday, is an update of the Chamber’s original report that identified corrections, Medicaid and public employee benefits as major budget leaks that were consuming tax...

Transylvania University selects Brien Lewis as 27th president; Toronto native begins duties on July 1

Brien Lewis has been selected to serve as the 27th president of Transylvania University. Board of Trustees Chairman William T. Young Jr. announced Tuesday that Lewis, the current president of Catawba College, will start on July 1. “I am delighted that Brien Lewis will serve as Transylvania’s next president. His selection comes with the unanimous approval of both the Presidential Search Committee...

Advocates to rally at state capitol this week for policies benefitting children and families

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Advocates for children will gather in Frankfort this week to push for policies that benefit children and families. On Thursday, hundreds are expected to rally to urge legislators to consider boosting child-care assistance and enact a state-level refundable Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families, among other reforms. Whitley County High School senior...

Kentucky Board of Education takes next steps in search for new education commissioner

At a special meeting Jan. 17, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) appointed board members Cody Pauley Johnson, Sharon Porter Robinson and Lee Todd to a team that will evaluate proposals from executive search firms vying to help the board find Kentucky’s next education commissioner. The board voted to create an RFP Evaluation Team. The team will view the proposals, which are being accepted until...

Beshear says criminal justice reform needed as prison costs, number of incarcerated continue to rise

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Andy Beshear says criminal justice reform is needed since prison costs and the number of those incarcerated is increasing, while at the same time the prison infrastructure is crumbling. During a Friday afternoon press conference at the Capitol, Beshear said, “Criminal justice reform isn’t just the right thing to do, but we must do it based on our current reality...

Kentucky Distillers’ Association names 2020 Board of Directors, Jessica Pendergrass named chairwoman

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has announced that Jessica Pendergrass, General Counsel for Heaven Hill Brands, has been named Chairwoman of the historic group’s Board of Directors for 2020. With more than 12 years of corporate attorney and commercial negotiation experience, Pendergrass joined Heaven Hill as the company’s first in-house Corporate Counsel in 2018. In addition to legal and...