A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor says ‘stay safe’ for the holidays; officials get vaccine; reports 3,057 cases, 28 deaths

Gov. Andy Beshear said he hoped all Kentuckians will have a wonderful Christmas, encouraging them to keep gatherings small and safe so they may enjoy many future holidays with their loved ones. “I want to make sure I start by asking everybody to make that additional sacrifice and do their part to keep their Christmas celebrations small,” said Gov. Beshear. “With the rest of the country on fire,...

Kentucky legislators say options are limited, COVID relief must come from Congress, not state

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky legislative leaders say it’s up to Congress to help Kentucky’s struggling families and businesses get through financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think our options are certainly limited on the financial side,” said House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, speaking to reporters after a Legislative Research Committee meeting on Wednesday....

State Treasurer Allison Ball critical of Gov. Andy Beshear; lawmakers foreshadow more to come

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State Treasurer Allison Ball took Gov. Andy Beshear to task over what she said was an unconstitutional executive order during the pandemic and other Republican lawmakers hinted that there could be legislative action in the next session. Ball said Beshear ordering churches not to hold in-person services during the spring was unconstitutional and infringed upon the free exercise...

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...

Kentucky Senate delays acation on bill that would take away much of governor’s road project power

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Senate delayed action Tuesday on a measure that would take much of the power of the Transportation Cabinet away from the governor and place it in the hands of a transportation board. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, the sponsor of the bill, has said this follows action by former Gov. Matt Bevin, who held 3.5 years’ worth of discretionary road...

Senate president, long the key obstacle to medical marijuana in Kentucky, now sees ‘narrow path’ to it

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The most important legislative opponent of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky said Friday that there is a “narrow path forward” for it. Senate President Robert Stivers said that the day after a medical-cannabis bill was filed in his chamber. Senate Bill 107 has bipartisan sponsorship from 11 of the Senate’s 38 members. It is a companion...

Bill Straub: Sanctuary Cities — now, is this really the No. 1 problem facing a state like Kentucky?

It’s no secret that Kentucky, sadly, has been a bottom feeder among the states for so long that it swims almost undistinguished from the carp and the flounder. Consider just a few items. The Commonwealth ranks 46th in per capita income, 46th in residents with a high school diploma or higher (48th with a bachelor’s degree for those keeping score at home), 43rd in child poverty, 48th in a measure...

New high-tech workforce training center in Barbourville receives $6 million in grant funding

Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressman Hal Rogers joined Senate President Robert Stivers on Saturday to announce grant funding for a new high-tech workforce training center in Barbourville. The project received combined state and federal funding for the KCEOC Community Action Partnership, Inc. to construct and develop the facility. “I am excited today to join Congressman Rogers and President Stivers in...

Robert Stivers to introduce resolution to open investigation into 2015 Purdue Pharma settlement

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, will introduce a resolution on the first day of the 2020 General Assembly to hire an investigating counsel to look into Kentucky’s 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma. The suit was brought in 2007 by then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who is seeking to return to that office in November, against the maker of OxyContin, in response...

Governor, legislative leadership say excess revenues of $194m will go to retired teacher health, pensions

Gov. Matt Bevin Thursday joined Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne to announce that Kentucky closed Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) on June 30th with record high state revenues, creating a significant budget surplus for the state. According to data released by the Office of the State Budget Director, Kentucky’s FY19 General Fund revenues exceeded estimates by $194.5 million,...

Despite opposition, measure allowing state officials to avoid Franklin Circuit Court clears committee

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Despite strong opposition from Kentucky’s chief justice, a bill that could remove civil lawsuits involving state government from Franklin Circuit Court easily cleared a Senate committee on Monday. Under the proposed bill, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, any action that includes a claim for declaratory judgement, injunctive relief, or other form...

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...

Franklin Circuit Court rules against disqualifying attorney general’s office from pension lawsuit

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A motion to disqualify Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office from pursuing the lawsuit he filed to throw out the pension reform bill was denied in Franklin Circuit Court on Wednesday. Steve Pitt, counsel to Gov. Matt Bevin, sought to disqualify Beshear and his office because he sent a letter to each legislator warning them that Senate Bill 1, the original pension reform...

Lawmakers drop 401(k)-style retirement plan for government workers citing insufficient savings

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A mandatory 401(k)-style plan will not be part of an overhaul of Kentucky’s public pension systems, lawmakers said Wednesday, because the savings wouldn’t be sufficient to make it worthwhile to the state. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the overhaul, which is now in the hands of legislative staffers, has undergone substantial change since...

Some Kentucky lawmakers continue to push for expanded gaming despite staunch opposition

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today One of Kentucky’s top lawmakers questioned Thursday whether a constitutional amendment is necessary to legalize casinos in Kentucky. “Somebody explain to me what the constitutional prohibition is against land-based casino gaming?” Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters at the Capitol. “There is none.” The Manchester Republican said lawmakers have the authority...

Kentucky’s 2017 corporate investment hits $9.2 billion creating 17,200 jobs; highest mark in 17 years

Shattering its previous investment record, Kentucky has announced $9.2 billion in corporate expansion and new-location projects in 2017, bringing commitments to create more than 17,200 jobs, the most since 2000. “Kentucky’s record-setting performance this year in job creation and corporate investment is a direct result of the pro-business legislation, policies and programs we’ve enacted over...

Capitol Notes: House gets bill that would let voters decide changes to legislative calendar

Legislative calendar bill moves to House: A measure that would let voters decide on proposed changes to the legislative session calendar of the Kentucky General Assembly was approved by the Senate today.   Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes an amendment to the State Constitution that would reduce the number of working days during regular legislative...

Capitol Notes: Research, limited medical
use of cannabis oil gets Senate approval

Senate approves cannabis oil bill: The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved a bill today that would allow research and limited medical use of cannabis oil.   Senate Bill 124, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would allow doctors at the state’s two university research hospitals to prescribe cannabis oil to patients. The bill also would...

Capitol Notes: School finance bill clears major hurdle in House, goes to Senate for review

School finance bill clears House, 58-41: A House bill that would require certification of Kentucky school finance officers, change annual in-service training requirements for school board members and superintendents, and require both monthly and yearly public financial reports from districts has passed its first major hurdle.   From left: House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville; House...

Capitol Notes: Panel passes domestic violence bill, sends it to full House for consideration

Special to KyForward   Legislation that would include dating partners among those allowed to obtain domestic violence protective orders has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.   “I think about Kentucky as the only state that doesn’t offer this type of protection,” said Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, the sponsor of House Bill 8.   Carol Jordan, the director of the...