The House Licensing and Occupations Committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would make it illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. Under House Bill 309, the devices would fall under the same rules as tobacco products. The bill is sponsored by Shively Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins and now moves on to the full House for consideration.
When asked whether e-cigs would be taxed like tobacco products, Jenkins said she would defer to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
E-cigarettes produce vaporized nicotine. NPR reported earlier this week on the popularity of the products for teens. Potential long term health effects from e-cigarettes are still unknown.
A former southern Kentucky sheriff has pleaded not guilty to drug-related charges and a count of official misconduct.
The Daily News reports Chris Cline was arraigned Monday in Warren Circuit Court.
A grand jury indictment accuses him of 41 counts of obtaining controlled substances in Warren and Simpson counties through fraudulent means from 2011 through 2013. The official misconduct charge stems from an allegation that he drove his sheriff's vehicle to fill out a prescription.
Cline resigned as Simpson County sheriff on Dec. 30, citing medical reasons.
The investigation of Cline was initiated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with help from Kentucky State Police and a regional drug task force.
Cline's attorney, Alan Simpson, said his client has struggled with multiple job-related injuries as well as other medical conditions.
Organizers have announced the lineup for an annual bluegrass music festival sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.
The festival known as ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival will welcome Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush and Del McCoury to the June three-day event. It is held at Yellow Creek Park in Owensboro and last year attracted about 21,000 bluegrass fans.
The museum announced the lineup of more than 20 artists and bluegrass bands last week. Other acts including Doyle Lawson, the David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio and Railroad Earth.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has cosponsored a bill that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
Stumbo is one of 18 cosponsors backing the proposed legislation filed by Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian.
The House Speaker says that his support for fairness coincides with his duty to uphold the constitution.
“I’ve never stood by and allowed people’s rights to be trampled in that manner. I don’t believe in it. I believe the constitution is exactly what it is: It requires that everybody be treated the same way regardless of your creed, color, national origin or sexual preference.”
Stumbo says that he thinks there’s increased support in his chamber for the bill compared to previous years.
Anti-nuclear activists (from left) Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli, pictured Feb. 6 in Knoxville, Tenn., were sentenced to prison terms on Tuesday for the 2012 break-in at Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
Credit Linda Davidson / The Washington Post/Getty Images
Signs warn against trespassing on to the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 10:15 am
"An 84-year-old Catholic nun was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposed serious security flaws at the Tennessee plant," The Associated Press writes from Knoxville, Tenn.
Construction crews at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green are making preparations to remove the eight cars that fell into a massive sinkhole less than a week ago.
Measures are also being taken to satisfy curious guests.
Right after the sinkhole collapse, a temporary wall was placed between the Skydome and the rest of the museum. Now, the wall is being moved closer inside the Skydome and a window is being put in so that visitors can get a better view of the sinkhole and the work being done around it.
"We've had quite a few visitors who have been coming specifically to catch a glimpse of the sinkhole, and for safety reasons, we can't allow them to go into the Skydome to see it for themselves," says Communications Director Katie Frassinelli.
A live webcam has also been placed above the sinkhole and can be accessed here.
Anecdotally, she’s seeing more visitors than normal for this time of year and more local gawkers are showing up at the museum.
Chris Tobe's interview with WKU Public Radio about the harsh reality facing Kentucky's pension programs
Chris Tobe is a man who is currently playing the role of “bearer of bad news.”
He worked as a trustee with the Kentucky Retirement Systems from 2008 to 2012, where he got an up-close-and-personal look at how the state’s pension systems were being underfunded. Tobe is also the author of the book Kentucky Fried Pensions, and he makes presentations around the state detailing the crisis facing the commonwealth’s pension programs.
While Gov. Steve Beshear and state lawmakers from both parties have hailed pension reform efforts passed in 2013, Tobe says it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to fix the underfunding issue.
Compared to the rest of the nation, Tobe believes “Kentucky is probably second worst to Illinois” when it comes to the health of its public pension programs.
House members have begun the process of evaluating and modifying the spending plan proposed by Governor Beshear.
Longtime Elizabethtown Representative Jimmie Lee chairs the human services subcommittee. He worries about under-served areas in the budget like guardianship and protection programs in the Department of Community Based Services.
“This is a really difficult budget to balance because we have so many needs,” said Lee. "There’s just not any dollars in that budget available that’s readily seen as you go through the numbers. It’s been the governor pretty efficient on the allocating and using what available dollars was there. He didn’t leave us much to work with.”
Lee says legislators could look to the Affordable Care Act to produce some savings, but those prospects remain uncertain.
“It’s gonna be one that we count on the ACA. helping us and that’s kind of taking the crystal ball and saying yes I believe the ACA will produce these kind of savings for us and you book those numbers. Now, whether or not it does, that’s another thing,” said Lee.
Lee says he will be meeting with overall budget chair Representative Rick Rand to determine how all pieces of the two-year plan can fit together. A House vote on the state budget is likely still a couple of weeks away.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:02 pm
President Obama said Tuesday that he has told the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the Department of Transportation on a second round of regulations to improve the fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The goal: reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they contribute to the environment.
An employee with the Legislative Research Commission has been fired after appearing in an online video in support of a Democratic Senatorial candidate.
The Courier-Journal reports that Charles Booker, 29, lost his job yesterday as an analyst for the Government Contract Review Committee. Booker appeared in a video for Alison Lundergun Grimes, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mitch McConnell.
In the video, Booker’s wife accuses McConnell of being out of touch with poor Kentuckians. Booker appears briefly in the video and makes a few comments about western Louisville.
LRC personnel policy prohibits employees from taking part in partisan political activity.