A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Committee hears complaints from foster parents about treatment by private agencies, social workers

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Several foster parents appeared before the General Assembly’s Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee on Monday to complain about their treatment by both private agencies and social workers with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Among them was Kennedy Robertson of Campbellsville, who fostered four children and said she was even required to have her father...

New Tax Foundation report indicates Kentucky’s business tax climate continues to improve

Kentucky’s business tax climate has officially moved into the top 20 most competitive in the nation, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation. The improved ranking reflects progress in reforming Kentucky’s tax code. The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan tax policy nonprofit. It annually produces an index ranking the competitiveness of all 50 states’ business tax climates. Rankings center...

Ben Wilcox shapes role of Kentucky’s first state school security marshal amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Jim Gaines Kentucky Teacher Ben Wilcox laughs a little when asked how COVID-19 has changed his job as Kentucky’s state school security marshal. He hadn’t been on the job long when the pandemic hit. The position of state school security marshal had only been created in March 2019. Wilcox formally started work July 1 of that year, but a month earlier he began traveling the state to share information...

Recent audit finds several Kentucky counties are in violation of state’s long-standing ethics laws

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State Auditor Mike Harmon issued a data bulletin on Wednesday in which he says several Kentucky counties are in violation of ethics laws passed by the General Assembly more than 25 years ago. In response to the Operation Boptrot scandal of the early 1990s, when 17 lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists were convicted on federal corruption charges, the General Assembly passed...

Scott pre-files ‘Breonna’s Law’ to end no-knock search warrants, increase police accountability

State Rep. Attica Scott has pre-filed legislation to end the use of no-knock search warrants in Kentucky and to increase police accountability. The legislation is in response to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her home by police carrying out a no-knock search warrant in early March. Scott unveiled the proposed Breonna’s Law at Injustice Square Park, the central point of protests...

Commentary: Sheila Mason’s 50-year career at the State Capitol is worthy of recognition

By Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker David Osborne, Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey and House Minority Floor Leader Joni L. Jenkins When General Assembly interns show up for their first day at the State Capitol, one of the first things they learn is that the well-being of our representative democracy depends on upholding the people’s trust in their government. Fortunately,...

Coronavirus is not going away any time soon, state health expert warns General Assembly committee

Members of the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Health and Welfare Committee heard from acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Doug Thoroughman on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They listened with masks and were properly social distanced from each other. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today) By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The coronavirus and how long everyone will have to be dealing with it...

Attorney General Daniel Cameron files motion to defend placing Marsy’s Law on November ballot

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to defend placing Marsy’s Law, a proposed constitutional amendment that provides a “Bill of Rights” for crime victims in Kentucky, on the November ballot. “The Kentucky Constitution permits the General Assembly to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot for consideration by the people,” said Attorney...

Fayette County Public Schools look to reopen week of Aug. 24 with new model of on-campus instruction

Fayette County Public Schools is looking at welcoming students back to school the week of Aug. 24 with a new model of on-campus, face-to-face instruction, Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk has announced. “This is later than our school district normally starts, but this change allows us to take advantage of the flexibility afforded in state law to have a shorter school year,...

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron asks legislators for law to limit governor’s powers

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Attorney General Daniel Cameron urged lawmakers to consider making changes to the law that gives a governor emergency powers. During testimony before the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Cameron said the law passed in 1998, known as KRS Chapter 39A, mentioned many potential emergency situations. “Even with this comprehensive list, I’m...

Governor says no need for special session on budget matters, due to agreement with legislative leaders

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement with legislative leaders to avoid the need for the General Assembly to return in a special session to resolve budget matters. Previously, the Governor had said he had expected to call a “short, targeted” special session to allow lawmakers to pass a reduced budget proposal to account for revenue lost due to the global pandemic...

Attorney General announces more than $112 million in annual tobacco settlement funds for Kentucky

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Wednesday that Kentucky received $112,659,718.88 million in the 2020 annual tobacco settlement payment from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). “Funds from the MSA support important programs throughout the Commonwealth, including agricultural diversification initiatives and health and education programs,” said Cameron. “Since signing the agreement,...

This week at the Capitol: Veto overrides, constituional amendments and final bills highlight closing week

State lawmakers voted to override vetoes, approve proposed constitutional amendments and give final passage to numerous bills in this week’s final days of the General Assembly’s 2020 session. In gaveling the session to a close on Wednesday night, lawmakers ended a session that unfolded differently than anyone could have predicted when it began in early January. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic affected...

Legislature heads home after passing bill senators say lets Beshear buy all anti-virus gear needed

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News In its waning hours Wednesday, the General Assembly passed a bill to help rural hospitals, but without specific funding, and added to it language that the Senate president said would give Gov. Andy Beshear the authority he needs to buy protective gear for health-care workers fighting the covid-19 pandemic. Beshear speaks daily at his covid-19 press...

Legislature passes one-year budget in a coronavirus ‘unusual situation’ and facing uncertain revenues

Staff report Social distancing was being observed by the General Assembly as they met Wednesday to take up the budget bills for the executive, legislative and judicial branches. 
While the Senate spread out in the chamber for their votes, the House took a more unusual approach. They adopted a change to the House rules that allowed them to vote remotely.  Many of the members remained at their offices...

Emily Postel: Kentucky voters deserve another opportunity to decide on Marsy’s Law

In this time of significant uncertainty, we commend the Kentucky General Assembly for moving forward on an effort to once again allow voters to decide what rights should be afforded to victims of crime. Following successful bipartisan Senate adoption and House committee approval, SB 15 (Marsy’s Law) is poised for passage by the full House of Representatives in the coming days. House members should...

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...