A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rep. Chris Harris: General Assembly must take action to help Kentucky’s families, small businesses

Tragically, due to the COVID-19 virus, tens of thousands of Kentuckians will likely lose their jobs and thousands of our small businesses – from manufacturing and restaurants to apparel shops, beauty salons and gyms – will suffer financial hardship, some total devastation. We, as members of Kentucky’s General Assembly, must do what we can to minimize their pain. This health crisis will impact...

Dustin Pugel: SB 150 would cushion the blow for unemployed workers and our economy

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing business closures and a drop in consumer spending that is resulting in major, widespread layoffs across every Kentucky community. The state could lose 67,000 jobs by the summer, according to one estimate that may prove conservative. Especially hard-hit industries like restaurants and retail make up 25% of all private-sector jobs in the state. As Kentuckians ride out...

This week at the Capitol: Issues facing lawmakers become clearer as bill-filing deadline passes

Legislative Research Commission Public Information A nearly complete view of the issues lawmakers will consider this year has arrived now that the bill-filing deadlines have passed in the Senate and House. Of course, “nearly” is a keyword. There’s always the possibility of twists and turns as lawmakers continue receiving testimony and contemplating changes to bills in the form of amendments....

This Week at the State Capitol: Several bills advance, including voting rights, pardons, local taxes, more

By Robert Weber Legislative Research Commission More top issues of the General Assembly’s 2020 session came into better focus this past week as legislative action hit high gear. In the Senate, members gave approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that could give the General Assembly authority to establish standards on restoring voting rights for certain felons, not including those who committed...

Proposed amendment that would give local government more tax options passes first hurdle

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A proposed constitutional amendment that would set the stage for local governments to change to a more consumption-based taxing system passed its first legislative test on Thursday. Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, is sponsor of the legislation that has more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. He told the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs...

Governor Andy Beshear signs bill requiring Kentucky school resource officers to carry firearms

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law Friday the school safety bill that will require school resource officers to be armed. “Our children deserve to feel safe and be safe in their schools,” Beshear said of the bill that passed by the General Assembly earlier this month by overwhelming margins. Beshear acknowledged some people objected to the bill because of the armed SRO...

This Week at the Capitol: Lawmakers address legislation concerning the wellbeing of children

Proposals concerning the wellbeing of children are often high-priority items in the General Assembly. Hundreds of measures aimed at improving the lives of young Kentuckians have come before lawmakers in recent years, including last year’s sweeping school safety legislation designed to make sure children are safe while learning. This year alone, more than 50 bills – roughly 11 percent of all bills...

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,...

Ron Daley: Helping Kentuckians get their REAL ID for air travel should not have taken so long

Don’t you just hate it when our great Commonwealth is at the bottom of rankings compared to other states? It is especially frustrating when there are easy fixes to address the concerns. This is the case when Kentucky has rushed to get to near bottom for allowing Kentuckians to obtain REAL ID drivers licenses by the federal mandated Oct. 1, 2020, deadline. The REAL ID (Voluntary Travel ID) is necessary...

Whitney Westerfield: Victims of crime are still counting on you, Kentucky; we need Marsy’s Law

In 2018, the General Assembly and Kentucky voters demonstrated their strong support for crime victims when they overwhelmingly adopted the Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment. Their intent was as clear as their message: “you deserve better, we support you, and your voice matters”. Victims were able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they would finally be afforded the same level of constitutional...

State Rep. Russ Meyer announces he will not seek re-election representing 39th House District

State Rep. Russ Meyer, a former Nicholasville mayor and city commissioner who has been a member of the General Assembly since first being elected in 2014, announced Wednesday that he would not seek another term representing the 39th House District. “This wasn’t an easy decision, but after talking and praying with my family, it was the right one,” Meyer said. “Serving the community I love for...

Kentucky’s 2020 General Assembly gets underway in Frankfort with leadership and procedural changes

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The 2020 General Assembly was gaveled in at noon in Frankfort on Tuesday, with lawmakers meeting on 60-days before wrapping up on April 15. There was a new look in House Leadership for both Republicans and Democrats on the opening day. Speaker Pro Tem David Meade, R-Stanford, took over the duties as Majority Leader from Rep. John “Bam” Carney, who has been hospitalized...

Ronald Vissing: Let’s get politics out of our school system — taxpayers and students deserve better

After all the teeth gnashing and howling at the moon due to Gov. Matt Bevin legally replacing several Kentucky Board of Education members over a two-year period and accusations of politicizing the board’s educational oversight authority, it took newly elected Gov. Andy Beshear exactly 13 hours and 23 minutes to accomplish the same thing. Amazingly, Gov. Bevin took the legal route and replaced board...

Medicaid Services study shows pharmacy carve-out from managed care would save Kentucky millions

The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) has completed an analysis that shows moving outpatient pharmacy services from Medicaid managed care to the Medicaid fee-for-service program would save the state millions of dollars. The study examined figures from 2017 and 2018. The two-year study conducted by Myers and Stauffer shows a Medicaid pharmacy carve-out would generate $237.5 million in...

Cancer-fighting advocates mark Great American Smokeout, call for action to prevent tobacco addiction

Cancer patients and survivors will mark the American Cancer Society’s 44th annual Great American Smokeout today by calling on the General Assembly to protect the health of Kentucky residents by passing strong tobacco control legislation, including increased funding to go toward tobacco control programs. The effort to combat tobacco addiction comes at a critical moment, as Big Tobacco has now succeeded...

Kentucky receives approval to provide increased access to Medicaid health services for students

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) has received final approval for a Medicaid state plan amendment that will expand health services in schools. The change to Medicaid will be phased in during the current school year, and approval for direct services reimbursements to school districts is retroactive to Aug. 1. “Approval of this amendment is a game-changer,” said CHFS Secretary Adam...

Ed Massey: Career and Technical Education working group highlights progress, need for reform

As a former school board member and someone with a lifelong passion for education, I am honored to serve as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly’s Career and Technical Education Task Force. Our working group meets monthly to hear testimony from state officials and educators, as well as to study the best methods for improvement to our system of career and technical education. The need to prioritize...

General Assembly 2020 to run January 7 to April 15 for the constitutionally allowed 60 days

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The 2020 General Assembly will be from Jan. 7 to April 15. Lawmakers will meet on 60 of those days, which is the maximum allowed under the Kentucky Constitution.

 Lawmakers will not convene on Jan. 20 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or on Feb. 17 in observance of Presidents’ Day. 

March 2 will be the final day that House bills can be introduced...

Health departments, employees making tough choices in wake of passage of Bevin’s pension bill

Kentucky’s health departments and their employees face some difficult decisions in the wake of the pension legislation passed in the recent special session of the General Assembly. The law written and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin freezes the pension costs of health departments for another year, at 49 percent of payroll, avoiding an increase to 83 percent, which would have forced layoffs and program...

Court of Appeals sides with Bevin administration, independent cities in solid waste case

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has reversed a judgment from Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd and unanimously ruled in favor of the Bevin administration and Jefferson County’s 83 independent cities in an important case regarding the decision-making powers of local governments. House Bill 246, a 2017 law championed by Rep. Jerry Miller, restructured the relationship between a county in a...