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.

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Health
3:26 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Beshear Hoping to Improve Health Outcomes in State Known for Sickness

Gov. Steve Beshear has announced a new initiative aimed at improving Kentucky’s health outcomes over the next five years.

‘KyHealthNow’ (Kentucky Health Now) will seek to improve Kentuckians’ health in the areas of smoking, obesity, cancer, heart disease and more by 10 percent.

Beshear says the initiative will piggyback off of the success of the state’s implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, which has enrolled over 240,000 people across the commonwealth.

“We want to reduce Kentucky’s rate of uninsured individuals to less than five percent," the Governor said Thursday. "The link between access to affordable health care and good health is clear, it’s direct, it’s indisputable.”

Beshear says  the initiative will  coordinate executive and legislative actions, as well as public private partnerships.

Kentucky ranks among the worst states for rates of smoking, cancer deaths and heart attacks.

Politics
4:59 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Sen. Paul Backs Measure Restoring Voting Rights for Some Felons in Kentucky

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Updated: 5:26 p.m.

The bill cleared the full Senate late Wednesday by a 34-4 vote. It now goes back to the House for reconciliation.  The House bill did not include a five-year waiting period, while the Senate version did.

Original Post

U.S. Senator Rand Paul has thrown his support behind a state bill that would restore the voting rights of some felons.

Paul spoke before the Kentucky Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday. He reminded the panel of the Republican Party’s history of support for civil rights. And he noted the higher incarceration rates of African-Americans in Kentucky, where a fifth of black adults cannot vote due to a felony record.

“There was a time in our society where there were intentional incarcerations based on race," the Bowling Green Republican said. "I don’t think it’s intentional, but there … has become a racial outcome on who’s incarcerated in our country, and I think that’s something that has to be addressed here. Because not only is the incarceration, I think, unfair, then they get out and the voting rights are impaired.”

A bill restoring voting rights for certain felons then cleared the committee by a unanimous vote. But it was amended to include mandatory five-year waiting period and an exemption for those with multiple offenses.

Politics
7:58 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Stumbo Backs Bill Banning Workplace Discrimination for Groups Including LGBT Community

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky LRC

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.

Regional
12:21 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Rep. Carney Thanks Responders After Adair County Natural Gas Explosion

John "Bam" Carney (right) visits with Rep. Ryan Quarles in August, 2013.
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky State Rep. Bam Carney is praising  the actions of emergency first responders for their handling of a natural gas explosion in Adair County that injured two people.

In a speech delivered on the House floor, Carney thanked firefighters and EMT workers for their efforts in responding to a Columbia Gulf gas line explosion that rocked the town of Knifely , which is in Carney’s district.

“One home that was damaged was actually my aunt’s, so it’s right there, and you know, when it hits family -- it’s always important to us but when it hits family it’s a little different. But I want to publicly thank all those folks who, by all accounts, have done an outstanding job: Columbia Gulf, first responders,” said Carney.  “You know, again, sometimes we take all those folks for granted 'til when we need them, so again I want to publicly thank them for what they’re doing in my community.”

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the explosion.

Politics
8:35 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Stumbo Supports Judge's Opinion on Kentucky and Same-Sex Marriage

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (left) spoke to Rep. Jeff Hoover during the 2014 General Assembly.
Credit Kentucky LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a federal judge's opinion that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The Floyd County Democrat doesn't think it will affect House elections this fall, where Democrats will defend a narrow 8-seat majority over Republicans.

“Whether you like it or not, that’s what the law says. Whether you like it or not, everybody’s rights need to be recognized by the constitution in equal manner. And that’s what the court found and that’s the state of the law," Stumbo said.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he is awaiting a final order in the case before he issues an opinion on the ruling or decides whether to appeal.

Politics
4:46 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Frankfort Reacts to Same-Sex Marriage Court Ruling

It was a very different time in 2004, politically and socially. George W. Bush was poised to sail into a second term in the White House. Hearings in Saddam Hussein’s war crimes trial began in earnest. And “Shrek 2” was making millions at the box office.

And Kentucky, along with 10 other states, voted to ban same-sex marriages.

Ten years ago, Kentucky's lawmakers and residents approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn knocked the legal footing out from under the measure, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

Heyburn's ruling only means the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of Kentucky. But it looks to be a matter of time before another case comes along seeking to throw the entire amendment out.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Efforts Underway in Kentucky Legislature to Ban Death Penalty

Two Kentucky lawmakers have introduced bills that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.

Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal of Louisville and Republican Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown say the justice system is flawed and should not have the power to take a felon’s life.

Corrections data provided by the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty shows that 14 death penalty cases have been overturned since 1983.

Neal says he has also filed a resolution in the Senate that would create a task force to examine the cost of capital punishment to taxpayers. It's been estimated to cost an average $10 million each year.

“Whether you’re for it or against it, that’s one thing or the other," the Jefferson County Senator said. "But let’s understand the cost to the taxpayer because it impacts more. I guess the bottom line is, I think, as I talk individually with some members of the chamber, I think that argument is gaining some traction.”

Some commonwealth’s attorneys maintain that capital punishment acts as a deterrent on crime, a point that Neal and Floyd disagree with.

Regional
10:11 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

KSP's Brewer Highlights Budget Woes

Kentucky's top state trooper says his agency is suffering from a shortage in manpower.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told a state House committee that years of flat lining budgets and a proposed 2.5 percent cut under Gov. Steve Beshear’s latest spending plan have put a squeeze on the agency.

Brewer says expenses in employee retirement, healthcare costs and fleet maintenance have led to layoffs.

“It caused us toward the end of last fiscal year to start making some reductions, and I was forced with the very difficult decision to lay off those troopers, which was extremely painful,” said Brewer.

Brewer says nearly two-thirds of KSP troopers make less than $50,000 per year.

Politics
8:55 am
Tue February 11, 2014

GOP Caucus: No Sentiment for Expanded Gambling in Kentucky Senate

Expanded gambling may be dead for another year, according to Kentucky Senate Republicans.

A bill filed by Senator Dan Seum of Louisville would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot and let voters decide if they want casinos in the commonwealth, Seum said Monday that he doesn’t have the support in his chamber.

Majority Floor Leader Sen. Damon Thayer took it a step further, saying there’s no sentiment in the Republican-controlled Senate to take the issue up right now.

“The Senate has dealt with this bill on the floor of the Senate in the past; the House has never dealt with a constitutional amendment on the floor of the House," commented Thayer.  "If the governor wants it badly enough, he oughta go to the members of his own party in the chamber that they control and try to push the bill.”

Seum says the bill isn't dead in the Senate, but it needs more time.  Similar gaming bills have repeatedly died in the Senate for decades.

Health
9:17 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Kentucky Lawmaker Hopes Cannabis Oil Could One Day Help the Sick

Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville)
Credit Kentucky LRC

A bill that would permit Kentucky universities to study and develop treatments using cannabis oil has been filed in the state Senate.

Senate Bill 124 is an effort by Republican Sen. Julie Denton to one day permit doctors to prescribe the oil to treat certain neurological disorders, including epilepsy.

Denton says the anecdotal evidence of the drug’s positive effects on children suffering from chronic seizures are too great to ignore.

“So these are children who will either die because of their seizure disorder, or they will be so developmentally disabled that they will have no quality of life," the Louisville Republican said. "So this will allow our two research hospitals, U of L and UK, to use this as a treatment for patients of those two institutions, or through an FDA clinical trial.”

The primary ingredient in the oil is a compound called cannabidiol, and contains extremely low amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

Denton says that by avoiding broader language to include medical marijuana, the proposal has a better chance of passing in her chamber.

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