J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Fresh off their historic wins in the General Assembly, Kentucky House Republicans are strategizing this week at a retreat in Bowling Green. 

The GOP caucus has 23 new members heading into the 2017 legislative session.  Republicans control thestate House for the first time since 1921, and maintain a comfortable majority in the Senate. 

Representative Jim DeCesare of Warren County says he expects economic issues will dominate the session.

“We’re not just competing with Tennessee and Indiana.  We’re competing on a global basis now for jobs and industries," DeCesare told WKU Public Radio.  Being centrally located within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the nation, we’re situated perfectly to grow our economy.”

Republicans are expected to push several measures that they think will make Kentucky more business-friendly, including right-to-work and tax reform. 

Those issues will be heard in the Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee, which will be chaired by Representative DeCesare.  Committee chairs for the next two years were announced at this week’s retreat.  

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved a list of principles to guide state policymakers if the legislature passes a bill clearing the way for charter schools in the state.

Kentucky is one of seven states that don’t allow charters — schools that use public dollars but are operated by organizations besides the state like nonprofits, for-profit companies, or groups of parents.

The state board recommended that if a charter school bill is approved, the organizations should be run by nonprofit groups that aren’t governed by religious organizations.

The 12-member board also said that the state board or local school boards should be in charge of reviewing the charter applications and that the organizations shouldn’t “detrimentally impact” the funding to “common” schools in public school districts.

National reports say Western Kentucky University is reaching out to a familiar name for its vacant football head coaching position.

CBS Sports says Western has spoken with Idaho coach Paul Petrino. He’s the younger brother of current Louisville coach, and former WKU head coach Bobby Petrino.

Paul Petrino previously interviewed for the head coaching job at WKU in 2009 before Willie Taggart was hired.

Petrino’s record is 14-33 during his three years at Idaho, with the team posting an 8-4 record this past season.

Former WKU head coach Jeff Brohm was named head coach at Purdue this week.

Kentucky LRC

The incoming GOP majority for the Kentucky House of Representatives has chosen 13 men and four women to lead standing committees that will decide what bills will be heard when the legislature convenes in January.

Republicans won a majority in the state House last month for the first time in nearly 100 years. Committee chairs will decide which pieces of legislation can advance during the 30-day session beginning Jan. 3.

Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah will lead the Appropriations and Revenue Committee that writes the state budget.

Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville will lead the State Government committee that will examine Kentucky's woeful public pension system. Rep. Addia Wuchner of Florence, a retired nurse, will lead the health and family services committee that will likely vet the majority's anti-abortion legislation.

Beshear Releases Guidelines for Rape Kit Investigations

Dec 7, 2016
Ryland Barton

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has released recommended guidelines for law enforcement agencies who are investigating the results of rape kit tests.

The guidelines include recommendations on how to manage the rape kits, how to review the DNA results and how to notify and interview victims.

A review by former state Auditor Adam Edelen found more than 3,000 rape kits in Kentucky had not been tested. A rape kit is a collection of physical evidence from a victim after a rape has occurred.

The state legislature earlier this year approved spending $4.5 million to alleviate the backlog. The money came from a lawsuit settlement against Johnson & Johnson that the attorney general's office negotiated.

McConnell Press Office

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has found a way to protect health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners whose benefits are set to expire at the end of the year.

But Democrats say the solution offered by the Kentucky Republican is only temporary and does not protect pension benefits that also are at risk. McConnell says he is working with House Speaker Paul Ryan to include money for miner's benefits in a temporary spending bill slated for a vote this week.

Democrats called the four-month fix inadequate. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would block other bills on the Senate floor until miners get their full health care and pension money.

McConnell has blocked a vote on a bipartisan bill to protect miners' benefits.

Fruit of the Loom

Fruit of the Loom has named a senior vice president at its global headquarters in Bowling Green as the company’s new chairman and CEO.

Melissa Burgess-Taylor will lead the company following the unexpected death of former CEO Rick Medlin last month.

Burgess-Taylor has been with the manufacturer of family and athletic apparel for 17 years. Her most recent position was Senior Vice President of Brand Management and Sales for Fruit of the Loom and Vanity Fair Brands.

She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, with a concentration in textiles and clothing, from Western Kentucky University.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has become an outspoken assessor of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential nominees for secretary of state, going out of his way to criticize several candidates for their hawkish foreign policy views.

Paul, a non-interventionist who has clashed with his party on foreign policy issues during his first term in office, is in a rare position to influence who Trump taps to be the next secretary of state.

A nominee would have to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, with 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the panel, Paul represents a key swing vote.

So far, Paul has publicly stated that he would not support the nomination of former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, citing his support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s also cast doubts on the prospects of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, questioning the candidates’ views on foreign intervention.

becca schimmel

Congressional leaders have included short-term funding for health care benefits for retired miners in a must-pass spending bill this week. If approved that would buy some time for thousands of miners in the Ohio Valley region whose benefits would otherwise expire at the end of the year.  

J. Tyler Franklin

A collegiate accreditation agency has placed the University of Louisville on probation, citing interference with its board of trustees.

The announcement follows months of speculation over the school’s accreditation status and comes on the heels of several moves by Gov. Matt Bevin that university administrators feared would be viewed as a loss of independence. Bevin disbanded and reconstituted the U of L board of trustees in June, and at the same time delivered word that then-president James Ramsey would step down.

A judge restored the old board in September.

In its decision, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges cited issues with board of trustee membership, standards related to selection and evaluation of the university president, external influence and board of trustee dismissal.

U of L Acting President Neville Pinto said in an emailed statement that the commission’s decision doesn’t reflect academic problems.

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