U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell says the Kentucky legislature needs to pass a handful of conservative priorities to make the commonwealth competitive with surrounding states and the only thing standing in the way is the Democratic-led state House.

The list includes repealing the prevailing wage, passing so-called “right-to-work” legislation, charter schools and medical review panels.

McConnell says it would grow the state’s economy, “My colleagues look at us and say it’s a great place for the Kentucky Derby but you’re not terribly competitive from a business view."

The priorities have long been in the sights of Republicans in the state but haven’t passed the legislature, where the Democratic-led House of Representatives has declined to take up the measures.

Democrats have a 53-47 seat lead in the House, though this November there are contested races for 91 of the 100 seats. McConnell said none of the policies will pass as long as Democrats control the House, “We have a new governor who in my view is doing all the things that I think need doing but he can’t do everything by executive order. And these are things that need to be changed.”

If Republicans take the majority of the House, the party would control the legislative path bills take on their way to becoming law.

With local dignitaries on board, Contour Airlines made its inaugural flight out of Bowling Green Monday. 

Before boarding the 30-seat plane bound for Atlanta, anxious passengers passed through a temporary terminal building that included TSA screenings.  The terminal building was one of several infrastructure upgrades that were made to accommodate the first commercial service out of Bowling Green in 44 years. 

Just before boarding, Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said he’s excited about commercial service and what it could mean for economic development.

"Many of the industries here look for direct to a major airport, and this I think, will give us a leg up on the next opportunity to bring a business to town," Wilkerson commented.

Tennessee-based Contour Airlines announced in May that it would begin offering daily trips to Atlanta and seasonal flights to Destin, Florida. 

LRC Public Information

Republican members of the Kentucky House are planning to boycott a meeting on the state’s under-funded pension system.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo has called lawmakers to return to Frankfort Tuesday, but the GOP is calling it a trick. 

Representative Jim Decesare says it’s no coincidence that a Democratic caucus fundraiser is being held the same evening.  The Warren County Republican says Stumbo is essentially asking taxpayers to foot the bill for Democratic members to travel to Frankfort for a political event.

"Thirty thousand dollars is our best estimate of what it will cost the taxpayers of Kentucky to have a meeting where really no action can take place and not involve the governor or the Senate," DeCesare told WKU Public Radio.  "It just seems like bad government."

Representative Decesare says the House could have acted last session and blamed Democratic House leadership for killing legislation that would have brought more transparency to the pension system. 

Stumbo says he called the meeting after receiving more bad news about the state-managed retirements funds, including a 1.3 percent loss on returns into the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

Frankie Steele

A controversial biomass plant proposed for Eastern Kentucky has moved closer to extinction following a ruling Thursday by the state Public Service Commission.

The PSC rescinded an order that allowed the $1.26 billion wood-burning project to proceed. The move came in response to a state court of appeals decision last month that deemed the plant unnecessary and likely to cause an undue economic burden on the region’s residents.

“As a result, it has no future, thankfully,” said Michael Kurtz, the Cincinnati attorney representing Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers Inc., an association of major energy-consuming companies that had filed suit to contest the PSC’s decision.

“The plant could only be financed and built if the businesses and poor people of Eastern Kentucky were forced to subsidize this grossly uneconomic project,” Kurtz said, adding that the project would have helped only “politically-connected developers.”

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions is about to get a little cheaper.

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.

The company says the generic will hit the market in a few weeks and cost $300 for a two-pack. That's less than half the price of a two-pack of brand-name EpiPens, which are available at Target pharmacies for about $630, according to GoodRX.

The move by Mylan comes in response to mounting pressure from consumers and Congress to lower the drug's price. In less than 10 years, the price for a two-pack of injectors has risen from about $100 to more than $600.

"This helps Mylan with its public relations battle against criticism for sharp price increases on the EpiPen," says Larry Levitt, a health policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "The introduction of a lower-priced generic version may keep competitors out of the market."

House Republicans to Skip Tuesday Meeting on Pensions

18 hours ago
Kentucky LRC

House Republicans say they will not attend a special meeting called by Democratic Speaker Greg Stumbo.

The Kentucky House of Representatives adjourned for the year in May. They are not scheduled to reconvene again until January. But last week, Stumbo announced a special meeting of all House members on Tuesday to discuss the state's public pension crisis.

Monday, House Republican leader Jeff Hoover sent Stumbo a letter blaming him for the pension problem. Hoover accused Stumbo of scheduling the meeting on the same day as a nearby Democratic fundraiser, ensuring members would have their expenses covered.

Legislators get $188.22 for each day they work. Stumbo said lawmakers who attend the meeting will be paid.

Stumbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

Coal-producing states are preparing for arguments next month in the federal appeals court case known as West Virginia v. EPA, challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The case has major implications for the country’s policy on climate change. But some experts and industry leaders say the outcome is not likely to bring coal back from its decline in the power market.

Diversifying Power 

Coal from central Appalachia has been “keeping the lights on” in the U.S. for nearly a century, so perhaps it’s no surprise that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading dozens of other states — including Kentucky and Ohio — and many industry groups in opposition to the new carbon emission standards.

At a May event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Morrisey said the Clean Power Plan is a disincentive for coal production.

Voters in at least four Kentucky counties will decide next month if they want to allow or expand alcohol sales. 

An increasing number of counties are choosing to go wet, arguing the move will help the local economy.  Carol Beth Martin, malt beverage administrator with the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, says a new state law is also fueling a rise in local option elections.

"Prior to that, there had been a population requirement, so many of these smaller towns could not legally hold a wet-dry vote, and now they can, regardless of their size," Martin told WKU Public Radio.

Cities and counties were previously required to have a population of at least 3,000 in order to hold an alcohol sales vote. 

Ramsey's Status with U of L Foundation Sparks More Debate

Aug 28, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL News

Former University of Louisville President James Ramsey's status with the UofL Foundation is sparking more debate among top officials.

The Courier-Journal reports the UofL Foundation's chairman took issue Friday with a suggestion by the school's Board of Trustees chairman that Ramsey should resign as foundation president to clear the way for recruiting a new university president.

Dr. Bob Hughes, the foundation's chairman, said promoting "harmony" will give UofL the best chance at recruiting an excellent new president. Hughes says Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Benz should keep his comments "on the high road."

Benz said Thursday that UofL would not be "attractive" to potential recruits for the presidency if Ramsey was serving as foundation president.

The foundation is scheduled to meet on an unspecified date in September.

Obama Signs Disaster Declaration for Parts of Kentucky

Aug 28, 2016
Daniel Borman, Creative Commons

President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for parts of Kentucky affected by storms in early July.

The White House said in a news release Friday that the declaration covers damage from storms, tornadoes, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred between July 2 and July 9. The affected area includes Adair, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Christian, Clay, Crittenden, Daviess, Edmonson, Hart, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, Metcalfe, Ohio, Todd, Trigg, Union and Webster counties.

The declaration triggers federal aid to help with recovery efforts in the affected areas.

Pages

Monday Afternoons at 4:45c/5:45e

Exploring the changing economy of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia