Jonathan Meador

Frankfort Bureau Chief

Jonathan is the Frankfort bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.

Meador worked previously as a staff writer for the Nashville Scene and LEO Weekly. Recently, he co-authored, along with R.G. Dunlop of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against State Rep. John Arnold which led to Arnold’s resignation. His work has been honored with several awards from the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists.


3:00 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Kentucky Government Switching to Paperless Constituent Messaging System

Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort

Constituents across Kentucky should expect an easier time getting their concerns to lawmakers beginning next year when a new messaging system is implemented. 

The chances are pretty good that, when you call your state senator to complain about paving that road to your house, a dutiful employee of the Legislative Research Commission writes down your message onto a green piece of paper and sends it to the lawmaker.

The LRC goes through tens of thousands of such “green slips” each legislative session.

Marcia Seiler, acting director of the LRC, is replacing that system with an instant electronic messaging service that will connect constituents and legislators immediately.

“I had heard from various staff and legislators, and in viewing the process, seen that we needed to modernize and make this mode of communication between citizens and legislators more modern, more efficient," said Seiler.

However, critics say what the new system promises in efficiency will leave plenty to be desired in transparency.  The messages are considered private legislative communications, so there’s still no way to see just how responsive the General Assembly is to Kentuckians’ concerns.  The new system is supposed to take effect by January of next year.

3:12 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

LRC Invokes Legislative Immunity In Harassment Case

Credit Kentucky LRC

The state Legislative Research Commission is arguing that none of its members can be sued in an ongoing harassment case due to a state law that permits immunity to lawmakers.

The LRC’s governing body is made up of 16 legislative leaders from the House and Senate.

The case stems from allegations by female state House staffers who alleged they were sexually harassed and assaulted by former state Rep. John Arnold. Leslie Vose is a private attorney hired by the LRC.

“The legislature, the Senate and the House are immune from being sued for violation of state and federal Civil Rights law. It’s a clear, black-letter law, and we’ve asked the court to address it before we go further.”

Vose says that the matter has already been appropriately settled by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, which found Arnold guilty of three counts of harassment and fined him $3,000.

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6:41 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Frankfort Kicks Off Ten Year Vietnam War Commemoration

The Kentucky Vietnam War Memorial in Frankfort

In partnership with the federal government, the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs kicked-off a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War in Frankfort Thursday.

The state plans to honor veterans with similar events across the state through the year 2025.

Joe Galloway addressed a crowd of about 500, mostly veterans, many with canes or in wheelchairs. “What a beautiful memorial, that sunshine and shadow touches each of their names on the day they died.”

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8:20 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Kentucky Lawmakers Debate Police Militarization, Legislative Fix Uncertain

Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders (left), Dr. Pete Kraska (right) of EKU
Credit Jonathan Meador

State lawmakers are expressing concern over the increasing militarization of local police departments in Kentucky and across the U.S., but legislative options to stem the unmitigated flow of military surplus gear to law enforcement agencies are unclear.

The joint Committee on Local Government heard testimony Wednesday from Pete Kraska, chair of Eastern Kentucky University graduate school of justice studies, and Rick Sanders, chief of Jeffersontown Police. They debated the merits and flaws of a controversial Department of Defense program known as “1033,” which hands out unused military gear to state and local law enforcement agencies around the country.

Kentucky Public Radio previously reported that since 2006 the 1033 program has disbursed tens of millions of dollars worth of military-grade gear to 100 Kentucky counties through a coordinator in the Kentucky State Police. The gear ranges from socks and boots to armored cars and assault rifles, all of it transferred with little to no state-level oversight or requisite training.

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9:25 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Lawmaker to Propose Bill Ending ‘Prison Gerrymandering'

A Kentucky lawmaker plans to file a measure for next year’s General Assembly that would change how the U.S. Census counts Kentucky’s prisoners;

A Kentucky state lawmaker says he will introduce a bill that will accurately apportion the state’s prison population in legislative districts.

Louisville Democrat Rep. Darryl Owens says he plans to file a measure for next year’s General Assembly that would change how the U.S. Census counts Kentucky’s prisoners; currently, they are counted in the district of their incarceration. Owen’s bill could place them in districts based on their previous home address, or not count them altogether.

Owens says that he thinks his bill will fare well in the upcoming legislative session. 

“We’ve got to figure out a way to count them, but make sure that they don’t have a big impact on the local community where they can’t even vote and don’t even live,” Owens said.

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4:05 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Berea College Gets $5.5 Million Grant To Aid Poor Students

Berea College
Credit Berea College

Berea College has been awarded a multi-million dollar federal grant to help prepare poverty-stricken students in the state’s Appalachian region for college.

The $5.5 million was announced today Monday by the U.S. Department of Education through its GEAR UP program, which aids poor students by targeting them for college-readiness at a young age.

Dreama Gentry coordinates Berea College’s outreach programs to Appalachian youth.

“A lot of the dollars from GEAR UP goes to the staff that will work directly one-on-one with these students, and then also the experiences-- the tutoring, the college and career awareness events, those type of things," explains Gentry.

Berea’s grant will be active for seven years, and will assist 7,000 students in Eastern Kentucky.

1:44 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Former Rep. Anne Northup Endorses James Comer for Kentucky Governor

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer and former U.S. Representative Anne Northup, R-Louisville
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

Former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup has endorsed Republican state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in his bid for the governor’s mansion.

Northup joined Comer for a press conference atop Waterfront Park’s Big Four pedestrian bridge Friday morning, commending the 2015 gubernatorial hopeful on his success in helping legalize industrial hemp in the state. She urged Republican voters in Jefferson County and across the state to support his candidacy.

“When Jamie told me that he was thinking about running for governor, I told him that I would be all in,” Northup said. “And that I would be so enthusiastic about him being the governor because I knew what a difference he could make.”

Northup’s endorsement is the campaign’s highest profile since Comer officially launched his bid earlier this month alongside running mate Chris McDaniel, a conservative freshman Republican state senator from Taylor Mill who owns a concrete construction business.

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4:39 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Despite Gains, HIV/AIDS Still Largely Impacting Kentucky's Minority Communities

One of the state’s foremost HIV/AIDS public health officials has told a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday that the state’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, Kynect, is helping patients who have the virus.

Despite gains in treating the virus, it still disproportionately affects African-Americans and Hispanics.

According to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, African-Americans make up 38 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases despite representing only eight percent of the state population.

Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner for the department, told members of the Joint Committee on Health and Welfare that those figures mirror a national trend. His only explanation for the difference lies in the risk factors listed by the data.

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3:51 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Advocates Call for Increased Pediatric Cancer Funding in Kentucky

Kentucky’s leading cancer researchers and parents of children with  the disease say that increased funding in pediatric cancer research would better help them understand and treat it. 

Jamie Bloyd is a mother of a child diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. She told lawmakers on the Joint Committee for Health and Welfare Wednesday that the state should commit funds to studying the disease in children like her son Paxton.

“Ten million dollars in our budget goes to dental care for inmates, but zero dollars go to pediatric cancer research in Kentucky. And I just think that that’s sickening. I think that our kids deserve better than our inmates do.”

Bloyd says $10 million in state funding “would be a good starting place.”

According to the University of Kentucky’s Pediatric Research Institute, about 150 Kentucky children are diagnosed with cancer each year.

4:12 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Kentucky Ordered to Pay $160,000 in Redistricting Lawsuit

Credit Kentucky LRC

The state must pay the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky more than $160,000 in attorneys’ fees because the legislature failed to enact new legislative district maps in a timely fashion, the group announced today.

U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman in late July ordered the payment in the joint civil suit filed against the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State Board of Elections.

The suit, initiated by the ACLU and a group of voters, noted the state failed to enact new maps during the 2013 regular session of the General Assembly, and were using maps created in 2002 as a result of the 2000 census.

The lawsuit claimed that population growth in the state’s urban centers in the ensuing decade effectively diluted those voters’ power at the ballot box. And the state’s actions violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s “one person, one vote” mandate, said William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky.

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