A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Billy Reed: What a difference a week makes as we learn the depth of our intolerance for free speech

Last Monday, our nation was reeling as never before from the double whammy of a violent attack on our nation’s Capitol building, which had shocked us only five days earlier, and the continuing escalation of the Coronavirus pandemic, which was claiming lives every day. In Kentucky, the president of the Senate, a Republican named Robert Stivers, delivered an emotional speech that caused him to break...

Kentucky legislature adjourns until Feb. 2; one bill sent to Governor, budget discussion will continue

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky General Assembly spent the last day of the first part of the 2021 session working on the state budget and sent one bill to the governor. 
There were four budget bills under consideration, for the Executive Branch, Transportation Cabinet, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch. 
All four were passed as continuation budgets of the current fiscal year. The...

Al Cross: Mischievous Christmas gifts for Kentucky politicians, a tradition continued

Thirty-nine years ago, Ed Ryan, then the Frankfort Bureau chief of The Courier-Journal, wrote a column headlined “Possible gifts for officials, first family.” Ed had great material to work with – Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., his appointees and wife Phyllis George Brown – and he made the column annual. Ed died in 1984, at only 45, but his journalistic legatees have continued the tradition. Since...

Kentucky Republican leaders tout stronger supermajority during news conference in Frankfort

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Three of Kentucky’s top Republican leaders spoke to reporters Friday about the huge gains the GOP has made in the state over the past 36 years. During a press conference at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was joined by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect. They pointed...

Al Cross: Republicans cement Frankfort power; will they overreach?

Well, that was a whoopin’. Tuesday’s election was a political disaster for Kentucky Democrats, and it has the makings of a governing disaster for their leader, Gov. Andy Beshear. But if Republicans overreach, it could be a public-health disaster for us all. Driven by allegiance to President Trump and a strong seventh endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, voters increased Republicans’...

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,...

Beshear says ‘no politics,’ focus on coronavirus crisis; legislature should do budget and go home

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Andy Beshear told a press briefing on the coronavirus Tuesday that he received a letter from General Assembly leaders asking him to declare an immediate special session so lawmakers could adjourn, then return and address anything they like, without a time limitation. 
Beshear responded that he’s done with politics.


  “We’re here in a state of emergency...

Senate President Robert Stivers introduces three bills affecting governor’s actions on final filing day

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Wednesday was the last day for new bills to be filed in the Kentucky Senate and three of them introduced by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, affect employees of the governor’s office as well as a governor’s powers under executive orders. Senate Bill 269, regarding pay of employees of the governor, states, “Any person who has not retired from any of the...

Sen. President Robert Stivers says most in state support bills on sanctuary cities, voter IDs

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Senate President Robert Stivers has responded to criticism of two bills that are considered top priorities in his chamber. Senate Bill 1 would ban so-called “Sanctuary Cities”, by prohibiting local governments and other agencies from adopting procedures that would hinder federal immigration laws; while Senate Bill two would require photo IDs to vote, which some say would...

Bill Straub: Looks like Bevin managed to step on his own tail, but don’t count Mitch out just yet

It was during the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992 and renowned columnist Molly Ivins was talking about Clayton Williams, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Texas who, despite all odds, lost to Democrat Ann Richards as a result of highly erratic behavior and questionable comments, like publicly recounting various adventures in a Mexican cathouse. Ivins allowed that the Williams...

Republican leaders Stivers, Thayer say any casino bill presented in their chamber is ‘dead on arrival’

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Two Republican senators have weighed in on one issue in the governor’s race by pronouncing any casino bill that arrives in their chamber “dead on arrival.” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, made the comment while condemning a proposal by Democrat Andy Beshear to legalize casino gaming. Beshear says the revenue...

More contention arises over public pension bill; are there sufficient votes for the measure to pass?

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Another point of contention has arisen between Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly during talks over a public pension bill for the regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies. 
The question: How many votes are needed for passage? 
Under the state Constitution, during budget years, it only takes a simple majority to approve appropriations bills,...

Senate leader Stivers wants ethics legislation to apply to executive branch lobbyists too

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky’s top Senate leader introduced legislation to require lobby executive branch agencies to have the same reporting requirements as legislative lobbyists. 
During a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, talked about bribery convictions over the last two years, particularly involving Tim Longmeyer, the personnel secretary under former...

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...

Special session shortlived; House adjourns saying issues too complicated for a five-day session

Staff report While the two public pension bills remained in the House, members of the Senate were not sitting still during the second day of the special session, said Senate President Robert Stivers. But the House discussions went on until about 4 p.m. when acting GOP House Speaker David Osborne said the issues were too complicated to resolve in a five-day session — and the House adjourned. Later...

Council of State Governments holds national conference in Covington, elects new leadership

Staff report With Kentucky State Sen. Robert Stivers as its outgoing chair, the Council of State Governments held its National Conference in Covington this week. The conference brought government leaders from around the country to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center — and hundreds of visitors to the area. Stivers is Kentucky Senate President; he has represented Senate District 25 since 1997...

Lawmakers named to permanent child welfare committee created by passage of HB 1

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Legislative leaders have named most of the members of the permanent Child Welfare and Oversight Advisory Committee created by the passage of House Bill 1, the adoption and foster care reform measure in the 2018 General Assembly. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, named three Republican members: Sens. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, Tom Buford of Nicholasville...

Legislative leaders name members of a bi-partisan School Safety Working Group

Legislative leaders have named the 10 members of a bi-partisan panel on school safety. The School Safety Working Group was decided upon by House and Senate leadership, in the wake of the shooting at Marshall County High School earlier this year, in which two students were killed and 18 others injured, 14 by bullets and four others while trying to flee. 
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester...

Bill to exempt private electronic devices from open records requests on life support, but not dead yet

By Mark Hansel Northern Kentucky Tribune An amendment to House Bill 302 that would exempt private electronic devices from public records requests may have been slowed down, but it still has life. Sen. Damon Thayer The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission confirmed Monday that HB 302 was pulled from the Consent Calendar last week but remains in the Senate Orders of the Day Tuesday. Click here to...

Senate President Stivers says pension reform bill has ‘limited, difficult’ path forward; hints special session

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today About a week after assuring he had the votes to pass Senate Bill 1, the controversial pension reform bill, Senate President Robert Stivers now doubts it will happen during the 2018 General Assembly.   “I think it has a very limited and difficult path forward at this point in time,” the Manchester Republican told reporters after the Senate adjourned on Wednesday. 
When...