A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

This week in the state Capitol: Leadership sworn in, some bills advance, recess until February 5

The excitement of the opening day of a Kentucky General Assembly session was evident amid the packed crowds, broad smiles, and welcoming handshakes throughout the State Capitol.   But the spirit of the first day might have been most clearly revealed in the trembling voices of some new lawmakers the first time they offered public comments in legislative chambers. The mix of nerves, emotion, and deep...

Wayne Lewis: 2019 legislative agenda prioritizes student success and parent empowerment

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) voted to approve a list of legislative priorities for the 2019 session of the General Assembly that places student success and preparedness and family empowerment at the center of our legislative efforts during the upcoming session. Admittedly, our agenda is ambitious, but I believe the legislative changes we are seeking are central to taking...

Members of Pro-Life Caucus hold rally is support of four bills under consideration by General Assembly

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Members of the General Assembly’s Pro-Life Caucus rallied at the State Capitol Rotunda on four bills that have been or will be introduced for consideration by the 2019 General Assembly. Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, who serves as chair of the caucus, said their purpose is simple: “We have dedicated ourselves to coordinating our efforts and to unifying in purpose to...

General Assembly turns focus to comprehensive school safety bill introduced in Senate Wednesday

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A comprehensive school safety bill was introduced Wednesday in the State Senate, which lawmakers have made the top priority of the General Assembly. Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, who chaired a 16-member House and Senate working group that travelled across the state to meet with all groups involved in the school safety issue over an eight-month period, is sponsor of the...

Pension reform takes center stage as lawmakers prepare to roll up sleeves for legislative session

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State lawmakers return to work Tuesday with a lot of their plate – foremost being pension reform – during the 30-day session. The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously struck down public pension reform legislation passed by the 2018 General Assembly, saying lawmakers violated state law in the process used to approve the bill. General Assembly House Speaker Pro Tem Davis...

Gov. Matt Bevin: Legislators must address Kentucky’s pension crisis

When I ran for Governor in 2015, I launched a seven-point plan outlining my vision for moving Kentucky forward, entitled the “Blueprint For A Better Kentucky.” The plan was ambitious and unapologetic in its call to change government, grow our economy and enact policies that would modernize education, healthcare and our tax code. Above all, however, I noted that no matter what we accomplish in any...

Gov. Bevin calls special legislative session to address Kentucky’s pension issue

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Matt Bevin has called a special session of the General Assembly beginning Monday night in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision that unanimously held the process used to pass Senate Bill 151, the wastewater bill turned into pension reform legislation, unconstitutional. During a Capitol press conference announcing the special session, Bevin said, “Our State...

John Schickel: Proposed Marsy’s Law amendment would undermine Kentucky State Constitution

On Election Day (Nov. 6), citizens will vote on whether to amend our Kentucky State Constitution. The proposed amendment is known as Marsy’s Law. The Marsy’s Law campaign originated in California after a woman was tragically killed by her former boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend was released from jail on bond and proceeded to confront her family in a supermarket. In a recent ruling, Franklin County...

Legislative committee hears about the growth of KY’s biggest exporter — aerospace and defense

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today If you thought the automotive industry was Kentucky’s biggest exporter, think again.   
It’s the aerospace and defense industry. 
Stewart Ditto, executive director of the Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium, told the General Assembly’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee the industry has over 600 companies, employs 17,000 and exported...

Officials tell committee that sports betting, online sales tax are not the answer to state’s financial woes

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Neither sports betting nor sales tax for online purchases will solve Kentucky’s financial woes, a legislative committee was told on Thursday. Department of Revenue Commissioner Daniel Bork told the Appropriations and Revenue Committee internet retailers and mail-order companies weren’t required to collect sales tax on out-of-state sales until a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court...

ACLU of Kentucky prepares to fight back as religion becomes more prominent in state’s schools

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service A leading civil rights group says a new effort to have the motto “In God We Trust” displayed in Kentucky’s public schools is just the latest in a string of attempts to bring religion into the classroom. State Rep. Brandon Reed (R) of Hodgenville has pre-filed a bill that would require public schools to display the motto in a location of prominence,...

Supreme Court this week: To hear pension bill in Sept.; reverses L’ville election; hears right to work

Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court acted quickly Friday to accept the direct appeal of a Franklin Circuit Court ruling on the public pension reform bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly and scheduled the case to be heard in September. 
Earlier in the day, Gov. Matt Bevin’s general counsel filed a notice of appeal of a ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd that declared the...

School Safety Working Group, Joint Education Committee hear testimony on mental health, security

On Monday, lawmakers on both the General Assembly’s School Safety Working Group and the Interim Joint Committee on Education heard testimony relating to the various mental health and security needs facing Kentucky students. The meeting was the third of the newly established School Safety Working Group, which came together to find ways to improve the safety of Kentucky’s schools. The group consists...

Lawmakers hear pros and cons on death penalty in Kentucky at legislative committee meeting

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky’s use of the death penalty, including comments from proponents and opponents, was the topic of a legislative committee meeting last week. Since 1976, Kentucky has executed three death row inmates, two of whom waived their appeals, according to Andrew English, general counsel for the Justice Cabinet. “Since 2010, we were under an injunction by the courts to...

Andy Beshear: Response to Bevin’s Chief of Staff; Kentuckians know the truth about ‘Sewer Bill’

A wise teacher recently told me, “If you’re doing the right thing, you don’t hide it in a sewer bill.” That’s what the General Assembly did when it turned an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill and rammed it through both the House and Senate in just 6 hours, all without a single public comment, without giving legislators time to read it and without any analysis on whether it would...

Bevin unveils final report of Kentucky Work Matters Task Force, signs groundbreaking executive order

Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday was joined by federal and state officials at The Council of State Governments national headquarters in Lexington for the unveiling of the final report of the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force. Established by Bevin last summer, this group has worked to identify tangible actions to address barriers to employment and promote workforce inclusion among people with disabilities,...

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...

Kentucky House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne urges investigation of Kentucky Wired

As the result of extreme delays resulting in tens of millions of dollars over its initial $324 million budget, and counting, House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne has filed a resolution urging an investigation into the ailing public-private partnership of Kentucky Wired. Kentucky Wired, created by former Governor Steve Beshear in 2015, was supposed to have delivered high-speed internet access to the...

Bevin files another suit against attorney general Andy Beshear in back and forth over pension reform bill

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today There’s a new wrinkle in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andy Beshear seeking that the public pension reform bill passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin be thrown out.   An important part of the suit alleged Senate Bill 151 is unconstitutional because it was signed by House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne, who Beshear argued is not...

This Week at the State Capitol: General Assembly 2018 session ends with overrides, last-minute bills

State lawmakers put the finishing touches on the General Assembly’s 2018 session this week by overriding gubernatorial vetoes, most notably on the state budget and tax reform legislation, and passing bills right up to the session’s final hours. House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne joined the applause shortly after he brought down the gavel to adjourn the House for the final time in the General Assembly’s...