McLean County Public Library

A library in western Kentucky is one of three in the state chosen for a pilot program to increase access to jobs and human services.

The McLean County Public Library has only been in existence for six years. It was the last public library formed in Kentucky.

Now it’s among the first – that is, one of the first three libraries in the state to launch a statewide initiative called the Library Economic Advantage Forum, or LEAF. The program makes the local library a hub for collaboration among community colleges and Kentucky Career Centers, as well as offering Internet access to residents who may not have computers at home.

Ryland Barton

This week, the state legislature continued to preoccupy itself with a sexual harassment scandal in the House of Representatives. After saying he would resign, and then he wouldn’t, Rep. Jeff Hoover formally resigned his post as Speaker of the House.

Meanwhile, a new pension bill still hasn’t emerged. But on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin got some good news in the form of federal approval for his proposal to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.


Kentucky LRC

A state Senator from Owensboro who serves as co-chairman of Kentucky’s Public Pension Oversight Board won’t seek another term in office later this year.

Joe Bowen is a Republican who has represented Kentucky’s 8th Senate District since 2011, and who also served for two years in the state House. Bowen said he wanted to announce his retirement now so that candidates interested in the seat can make plans.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The federal government has approved most of Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

Bevin’s proposal includes requiring many of the state’s Medicaid enrollees to perform some kind of “community engagement” — work, volunteer service, job training or education. The federal government paved the way for the approval on Thursday, when it announced it would allow work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage.

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A month ago, Republican leaders of the state legislature said they hoped to pass major changes to the state’s pension systems within the first two weeks of the legislative session.

The first two weeks are now in the books and a new pension bill isn’t in sight ahead of Gov. Matt Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth and Budget address on Tuesday evening.

Wikimedia Commons

Kentuckians with certain medical conditions would be able to get a prescription for cannabis under a bill filed by two Democratic lawmakers and promoted by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The 65-page bill would make it legal to smoke, ingest or grow cannabis — the scientific name for marijuana — with a prescription and would be regulated by the state agency that deals with alcohol production and sales.

Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial

A project to honor slaves buried in unmarked graves in the Lake Cumberland region will be highlighted at a community breakfast in Wayne County on Martin Luther King Day.

The first part of the three-phase Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial project is a sculpture to be erected at Somerset Community College. The project board of directors already has a drawing of the memorial designed by Ayokunle Odeleye, a sculptor and professor at Kenneshaw State University in Georgia.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

So far, nine Democratic members of the Kentucky House of Representatives have announced they won’t seek re-election to the Republican-dominated chamber this November.

Some of the lawmakers are pursuing local elected offices, others are just retiring. And Democrats maintain that the exodus is not due to the frustrations of being the minority party in a state that has a Republican legislature and governor for the first time in history.


Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky House has voted to do away with a special committee that was investigating allegations that former House Speaker Jeff Hoover sexually harassed a staffer.

The bipartisan committee was created after 8 Republican lawmakers filed a complaint against Hoover under a new disciplinary rule last week.

The House voted 90-0 to abolish that rule on Wednesday.

Polaris

An FBI agent in Kentucky says human trafficking is now the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world, and it’s expected to eclipse drug-running in a few years. 

Special Agent Michael Brown, who is based in Owensboro, says sex and labor trading are occurring in cities large and small throughout the commonwealth. 

In a speech Wednesday to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Brown said he investigated a case in Henderson in 2014 where two girls were willingly prostituting themselves in order to earn money to buy a car.

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