Veteran State Representative Jody Richards of Bowling Green is facing his first Tea Party challenger in the November election. Jenean Hampton is taking on the longest continuously serving state representative in Kentucky history.
"There was much prayer involved. This wasn't my plan," said Hampton in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "Sometimes you're screaming at the TV, you see things that need to be improved, and you're screaming that someone needs do something, well sometimes that someone is you."
Hampton serves as chair of the Bowling Green-Southern Kentucky Tea Party. The 55-year-old Republican is an Air Force veteran and businesswoman who wants to use her private sector experience to spur economic development in the commonwealth.
In her first run at public office, Hampton is taking on political heavyweight Jody Richards who was first elected to the legislature in 1975 and served as House Speaker from 1995 to 2009. Over that time, he's become the recipient of several plum committee assignments, including Appropriations and Revenue. Richards told WKU Public Radio that his influence in Frankfort could not be matched by a newcomer.
"No new person would have my committee lineup nor would they have the connections I do," he suggested. "I pride myself in working well with both sides of the aisle."
The office of Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday that the state is seeking a request for proposals from private companies to expand broadband Internet access to Eastern Kentucky.
In a press release, the governor’s office said it will ask for proposals from companies to expand Internet access as part of the SOAR initiative, which aims to revitalize communities in the state’s economically troubled coal regions.The initial phase of the project will place 3,000 miles of broadband cable over a period of two years.
The governor’s office states that nearly one-quarter of Kentuckians don’t have access to broadband Internet.
The project is estimated to cost about $70 million, with $30 million appropriated by the state legislature and the remainder paid for by public-private partnership.
A Kentucky Congressman who leads the House Appropriations Committee says President Obama needs to lower the amount of funding he’s seeking to address the crisis along the country’s southern border.
Politico reports that Somerset Republican Hal Rogers told reporters Friday that the nearly $4 billion the President wants is “too much money.” The President made the request in response to the growing number of unaccompanied children who are trying to enter the country from central America.
Congressman Rogers said while members of the appropriations committee continue to look through the President’s plan, the $3.7 billion dollar price tag will have to come down in order to gain House support.
While he didn’t suggest a different number, Rogers said he hopes to make a counter-proposal next week.
A Barren County man wanted for the murder of his wife has been arrested in another state. Glasgow Police say John Amis was taken into custody Friday by law enforcement in Clermont County, Ohio.
Amis is charged in the death of 37-year-old Lorine LaBombard. According to police, Amis called 911 on June 16 stating that he was en route to TJ Samson Hospital with his wife who was unresponsive due to a possible drug overdose.
LaBombard was declared dead by hospital staff. The coroner of Barren County later contacted police after discovering multiple bruises and injuries to her body that suggested possible foul play. An autopsy ruled out an overdose as the cause of death, but rather blunt force trauma.
Once Amis is returned to Barren County, his bond will be set $1 million.
Kentucky is facing a $91 million budget shortfall, and one of the driving factors is a decline in a form of income primarily used by the nation’s wealthiest individuals.
In 2012, the U.S. Congress was preparing to take the country over the “fiscal cliff” over rising debt, rising healthcare costs, and spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To reduce the deficit, President Obama proposed raising the federal capital gains tax, which largely impacted the nation's wealthiest, prompting a massive sell-off by 2013.
As a result, state budget forecasters anticipated a repeat of such revenue on what was essentially a one-time occurrence.
“All states knew of this change, and they made adjustments in their revenue estimates, but it was a much larger impact nationwide than states planned for,” said Kentucky State Budget Director Jane Driskell.
Driskell says there is no need for a special legislative session to address the shortfall. Governor Beshear could issue a budget reduction order to balance the state’s coffers.
A volunteer panel reviewing the deaths and near-deaths of abused or neglected children in Kentucky is planning to hire additional staff to analyze hundreds of social worker case files.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel hopes to hire a lawyer by August and additional staff by fall.
The panel was appropriated $420,000 during this year's legislative session to hire more staff to handle the analysis and recommend how to improve the state's child-protection system.
Retired Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden told a legislative panel on Thursday that hiring the additional staff will allow the 20-member panel to back the recommendations with solid data. Crittenden says the panel was supposed to meet quarterly but now meets every other month.
A new poll finds a majority of Kentuckians aren’t happy with the Affordable Care Act, but they do like benefits the legislation made possible.
According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky study released Thursday, this disconnect is consistent throughout the state, although people in the more urban areas—Lexington and Louisville—were at least nearly 10 percent more favorable of the ACA.
The foundation’s President Susan Zepeda says the poll found nearly half of people disapprove of the ACA while nearly 4 out of 5 like one of the benefits.
“The biggest difference we found was the number of Kentuckians who strongly supported the expansion of Medicaid that was made possible by the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
Zepeda adds this could be good or bad news for some.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway says he supports expanded gambling as a way to raise revenue for essential state programs and hasn't given up on getting the long-stymied proposal through the General Assembly.
Conway says Kentucky has missed out on the economic benefits of casino-style gambling near its borders.
He says he'll promote putting the issue on the ballot as he campaigns across the state.
Conway's comments came after he spoke Thursday to local officials from across Kentucky.
Republican James Comer, who is expected to enter next year's governor's race, promoted right-to-work legislation in his speech to the same group.
Comer said making Kentucky a "right-to-work" state would enhance its competitiveness.
Kentucky's last GOP governor, Ernie Fletcher, failed in his push to let Kentucky workers opt out of union representation.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority over its plans to shut down two coal-fired units at its plant in Muhlenberg County.
The suit brought by a group of landowners and the Kentucky Coal Association argues the TVA didn’t perform a proper environmental impact statement before it decided to close the units at the Paradise Fossil Plant, and replace them with a natural gas unit scheduled to begin operations in 2017.
Meanwhile, ground continues to be cleared for the project. Speaking to reporters in June at the Paradise plant in Drakesboro, TVA transition manager Billy Sabin said the excavation stage should be completed within three months.
“That’s expected to complete sometime around the September timeframe. When that is complete, we’ll be working on getting our permits in place, and starting actual construction the end of this year to the first of next year.”
A TVA spokesman says officials are reviewing the lawsuit and will respond appropriately. The federally-owned corporation says reducing the number of coal-burning units at its Muhlenberg County plant from three to one will cut its coal reliance at the facility by half.