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.

Pages

Business
8:19 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Kentucky Lawmakers Consider Giving Natural Gas Bigger Role in State's Energy Portfolio

A natural gas filling station

A stable of Kentucky lawmakers are learning how natural gas can be developed to meet the state’s transportation needs.   

Industry experts briefed members of the committees on energy and natural resources at the Owensboro convention center Thursday on the viability of natural gas filling stations, which are currently limited across the state.

“It’s an important issue for Kentucky," said Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter, a co-chair of both committees. "Gas has become a major player, in providing energy sources for Kentucky, and that's why we wanted to come to Owensboro."

"One of our members, this is his home community, and they've got a beautiful facility, and they just worked hand-in-hand so we could hear a presentation from the gas association and learn more about what they're doing."

Natural gas is expected to comprise a larger share of the state’s energy sources in the future.

Politics
8:20 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Kentucky's Democratic, GOP Legislative Leaders Unite Against New EPA Regulations

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (center) and House Speaker Greg Stumbo (right) both disagree with new federal guidelines concerning power plant emissions.
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky’s two top-ranking lawmakers have  some choice words about new coal emissions regulations announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo are slamming the proposed rules, which will cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.  .

“You can’t formulate energy policy for a growing country like ours, if you’re not going to consider, as part of that solution, your most abundant resource," Stumbo said. "It doesn’t make any sense at all, it’s a dumbass thing to do, and you can quote me on that.”

Stumbo added that he didn’t think that the rules will affect the outcome of the November House elections, where Democrats hope to retain a narrow majority over Republicans.

The regulations are subject to public input and will be officially enacted a year from now.

Read more
Agriculture
1:42 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Kentucky Hemp Development Could Get Boost from County Loan Program

Hemp seeds have been legally planted in Kentucky recently for the first time in decades.

Kentucky’s burgeoning hemp industry may receive a shot in the arm later this year if the state changes a loan program for agricultural processors.

Roger Thomas is the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. He says a loan program designed to cover the costs of processing other agricultural products could apply to hemp processing once state universities have determined which hemp products are best suited for Kentucky.

“If the research proves that it’s a viable crop for Kentucky farmers, then perhaps later this year the Ag Development Board might look at tweaking some guidelines to allow the County Agricultural Investment Program, the county funds, to be accessed for that purpose.”

State agriculture experts predict that the cost of creating infrastructure for a new hemp industry will affect how successful it can become.

Regional
7:07 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Kentucky City Sues State Pension System Over Risky Investments

A Kentucky city is suing the state's public pension system over its investment of county employees' retirement money into "risky" hedge funds.

An attorney for Ft. Wright, a northern Kentucky city of 5,700, filed a class-action lawsuit Monday alleging that Kentucky Retirement Systems improperly used money from one of its subsidiary funds to make investments that were illegal under state law.

The civil suit, filed in Kenton Circuit Court, alleges that KRS put an "unreasonably large percentage" of money from a subsidiary fund -- County Employment Retirement System (CERS) --  in "high risk investments which are not appropriate investments for fiduciaries under the common law of Kentucky."

KRS has come under increasing scrutiny over the last couple of years due to poor performance, investments in risky hedge funds and, more recently, the handsome fees those hedge funds reaped from its contracts with the state's beleaguered $15 billion pension system. KRS was recently named among the worst-funded pension system in the nation, at under 24 percent funding.

The lawsuit seeks a court order of damages in total of at least $50 million, which Ft. Wright argues was spent on "management fees" charged by hedge funds and private equity groups per KRS' investment strategy. The lawsuit also seeks to establish a separate investment portfolio for the subsidiary fund, CERS. This would effectively divorce it from the current system whereby CERS' assets are "co-mingled" with KRS.

Read more
Agriculture
5:00 am
Sun June 1, 2014

Financial Impact of Kentucky Hemp Remains to be Seen

Hemp can now be planted in Kentucky following a legal battle between Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and the federal government.

Now that hemp seeds have made it into Kentucky soil, larger questions remain about the impact industrial hemp will have on the economy. 

Proponents like Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer say hemp has a market that includes hundreds of products ranging from cosmetics to automobile paneling.

University of Kentucky Agriculture Professor Will Snell

“It’s going to be a piece of the puzzle for some producers, potentially, but at the present time I think the market will evolve slowly, and don’t necessarily think at this point in time, especially in the short run, it would be a significant number of producers," says University of Kentucky Agriculture Professor Will Snell.

Snell co-authored at 2013 report that suggested only a few dozen jobs would be created and that hemp would amount to less than one percent of Kentucky’s farm cash receipts. 

Hear more about Kentucky’s hemp comeback and its prospects of boosting the economy during Morning Edition Monday at 7:50 a.m. central time, 8:50 a.m. eastern time.

Politics
4:44 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

KSP: No Evidence of Cover-Up Related to Sexual Harassment Case Against Arnold

Former Union Co. Rep. John Arnold
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

After a nearly seven-month investigation, Kentucky State Police say they have found no evidence that former Legislative Research Commission Executive Director Bobby Sherman shredded work-related documents to cover-up information on sexual harassment within the state legislature.

KSP Trooper Paul Blanton says the acting detective on the case has finished his investigation and concluded that Sherman's activities weren't illegal and didn't involve a cover-up of sexual harassment by former state Rep. John Arnold or other lawmakers.

“The investigation into the destruction of documents to conceal this physical assault or sexual assault--there was no evidence of that."

Blanton says state police will release the case files sometime in the next two weeks.

Politics
2:10 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Who Spent the Most Lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly In The 2014 Session?

The dome of the state capitol building in Frankfort
Credit Kevin Willis

Lobbyists spent $8.7 million to lobby Kentucky lawmakers this year—and tobacco giant Altria led the pack at $156,000, According to records released by the Legislative Ethics Commission this week.

Some have pointed to the tobacco lobby's heavy spending during the 2014 session as a major contributing factor in the defeat of a statewide smoking ban.

Here are the top 10-spending companies and business interest groups to lobby the General Assembly: 

Read more
Regional
2:45 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Despite New Law Offering Relief For Families, Cannabis Oil Hard To Come By

(From left) Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, Dr. Sue Sisley of Arizona, and Michael Krawitz, founder of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, present a medical marijuana bill to the House Health and Welfare Committee in February, 2014.
Credit Kentucky LRC

After passing the Kentucky General Assembly with unanimous support, a new law that would permit state public universities to research and prescribe medical cannabis oil is hitting a rough patch.

Karen Skjei is an assistant professor at U of L and director of Kosair Children’s Hospital’s pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit. She says the new law doesn’t provide any groundwork for getting the oil into the hands of patients, and the university is currently seeking grants to fund clinical trials to study and administer the drug.

“It’s not available anywhere in the state. You can’t bring it in across state lines. So at this point there’s no way for patients to get it,” said Skjei.

Lawmakers passed the bill this year in response to moving testimony from parents with epileptic children, which the drug is believed to treat.

Skjei says she doesn’t know when the drug will be available to patients.

Politics
5:23 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Primary Voter Turnout Even Lower Than Predicted

Candidates, friends and family hold signs at the corner of Scottsville Road and Nashville Road in Bowling Green on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.
Credit Abbey Oldham

There was light voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election; just 26 percent of registered Kentucky voters cast a ballot.

Little over a quarter of the state’s record 3.1 million registered voters participated in the primary, which decided hundreds of races across the Commonwealth.

Turnout was highest in some Eastern Kentucky counties, most notably those in which the Kentucky Attorney General's office says instances of vote buying were highest.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who won her Democratic primary in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, correctly predicted that turnout would not rise above 30 percent.

Politics
12:00 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

It's Primary Election Day in Kentucky: Here Are State Legislature Primaries to Watch

Kentucky's primary election is Tuesday, May 20.

With an expected 30 percent (or less) voter turnout in Tuesday's primary elections, about 930,000 Kentuckians will take to the polls to determine which candidates will appear on the ballot during this fall's general election.

Kentucky political observers will be looking to see what impact the election's outcome will have on the Kentucky Democratic Party's bid to retain control of the state House against a Republican challenge.

With 23 seats contested in the House, here's a quick look at some of the races that will add clarity to that question:

District 10. Western Kentucky state Rep. Ben Waide, a Republican, has announced he'll be seeking Hopkins County judge-executive post, leaving the field wide open to three Republicans and a lone Democrat vying for a chance to replace him. Waide replaced longtime Democratic incumbent Eddie Ballard in 2010, besting Democratic opponent Michael Duncan by 1,596 votes. Democrats will be eager to win this seat back despite its newfound Republican leanings.

Read more

Pages