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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Politics
10:40 am
Tue May 6, 2014

It's Official: Jack Conway Will Run for Governor in 2015

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway

Jonathan Meador's report on Tuesday's announcement by Jack Conway

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway officially announced in a video press release on Tuesday his candidacy for governor, adding that he has tapped House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, as his running mate.

“Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and continue to move Kentucky forward, and we begin doing that by building a great team. The strength of this gubernatorial ticket is bolstered by Rep. Sannie Overly’s record of accomplishments.”

Conway has served as the state’s Attorney General since 2008. Overly, a Democrat from Paris, was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2008, and in 2013 became the first woman in state history to be elected Caucus Chair by House Democrats.

“As governor, Jack will fight for better jobs, to fix our schools, and to help our families confront the economic struggles they face every day,” Overly said in a statement. “Jack has refused to back down from the toughest fights and he has won. Together, we will work hard to build Kentucky’s future.”

Conway is the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in the 2015 gubernatorial election; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, a Republican, threw his hat into the ring earlier this year. Former Lexington urban-county council member K.C. Crosbie is Heiner's running mate.

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Regional
6:35 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Mixed Returns For Kentucky Public Pensions

Financial documents show that the Kentucky Retirement Systems dramatically underperformed last year, when compared to its cousin, the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

Last year, the Kentucky Retirement Systems' investment portfolio brought in about one billion dollars less than the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

According to Chris Tobe, a former trustee to the Kentucky Retirement Systems turned whistleblower, that means Kentucky is home to one of the best-performing public pensions, and, in the case of KRS, one of the worst.

“It really kind of tells you all the things wrong with the pension plan as far as administration. And all the right things to do,” said Tobe.

Moreover, last year the KRS underperformed the average public pension's investment plan by about $500 million.

Tobe says last year was such a bad year for the pension that KRS’ portfolio must outperform its projections for the next five years to make up for the hit.

Politics
2:04 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Record Number of Kentucky Residents Eligible to Vote in May Primary

Kentucky's primary is May 20.

A record number of Kentuckians have registered to vote in advance of the May 20 primary.

The Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office reports that over 3.1 million Kentuckians are registered, reflecting an increase of more than 68,000 new voters over the last year and a half.

Democrats retain their historical edge in the state, representing nearly 54 percent of registered voters. Republicans come in just below 40 percent.

Health
8:04 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Kentucky Physicians to Undergo Additional Training to Help Spot Signs of Child Abuse

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has ceremonially signed into law a measure that would require Kentucky physicians to undergo training to detect signs of child abuse.

Republican Rep. Addia Wuchner sponsored the bill. Three other states have similar laws, and Wuchner says this will address Kentucky's problem with abuse-related fatalities and injuries.

“The statistics are heart-rendering. We all know them, we hear them repeatedly. There are numbers that we never wanted Kentucky to be number one in. We like being number one in basketball, and all those other arenas. But sadly, Kentucky’s children cried out that we do something differently," the GOP lawmaker said.

Beshear says the training will be funded in part by medical licensing fees.

Kentucky averages 29 child deaths each year due to abuse and neglect.

Politics
5:40 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

2014 General Assembly Session in Review: Who Won? Who Lost?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul's appearance in Frankfort couldn't help push through a bill that would've restored voting rights for thousands of felons
Credit Kentucky LRC

By law, the only piece of legislation that the 2014  Kentucky General Assembly had to pass was a two-year state budget.

All else, as Will Rogers put it, is applesauce.

And with a session that began with a bang and ended with a whimper, it's what happened in between that House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers should be "proud" of.

Specifically, that they passed a compromised version of Gov. Steve Beshear's $20.3 billion state budget. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, however, took to the editorial page of The Courier-Journal to vent about what he dubbed a "lackluster" session.

But the truth probably lies somewhere between the extremes of "proud" and "lackluster."

Many political observers noted a reluctance among lawmakers to tackle controversial measures—chief among them tax reform—because of the impending November elections that will prove as a test for House Democrats to retain their slim eight-seat majority.

Here's a look at the winners, losers and downright lost causes of the 2014 General Assembly.

WINNERS

The coal industry—A slate of coal-friendly bills easily cleared the legislature, including one that allows coal-fired power plants in the state to regulate their own carbon emission standards at lower-than-federal-levels. Lawmakers also approved a bill that provides a new round of tax incentives for coal and coal-related industries to subsidize their purchase of new equipment.

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Politics
5:23 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Arnold Ethics Case Still Open

The ethics trial against former Kentucky legislator John Arnold may continue. Because the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission did not consider a motion to dismiss the case against the Sturgis Democrat in a hearing last week, the case may go forward.

The panel voted 4-1 last week to find Arnold guilty of ethics violations stemming from charges that he sexually harassed female state House staffers. Because nearly half of its members were absent for the hearing, and five votes were required for a motion to pass, Arnold was let off.

The commission will consider the issue at its next meeting on May 7th.

Regional
5:40 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Lawmaker Calls For Ethics Committee Reform If Special Session is Called

State Rep. Joni Jenkins
Credit Kentucky LRC

A Kentucky Representative says if a special legislative session is called for later this year, ethics reform should be on the agenda.

During the session, Rep. Joni Jenkins filed an amendment to an unrelated bill that would reconfigure the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, which has come under fire after it found former lawmaker John Arnold not guilty of sexual harassment charges. But the Senate didn’t take up that bill.

Jenkins, a Louisville Democrat, is disappointed, but she plans to take up the issue as a bill next year, or, if Gov. Steve Beshear calls for a special session, she’ll advocate to have it included on the agenda. 

“You know, you hate to spend all that money.  I would hope that perhaps if he called a special session on some other issues that they’re talking about, perhaps he would think about including this,” said Jenkins.

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Regional
8:13 am
Wed April 16, 2014

After Late Night, Lawmakers Wrap Up Legislative Session

Greg Stumbo (left) and Jeff Hoover earlier in the 2014 General Assembly Session
Credit Kentucky LRC

This year's Kentucky legislative session is now over. Though many bills failed due to lack of compromise or attention, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers did what was expected of them from taxpayers by passing a two-year state budget.

But that chamber’s highest ranking Republican, Jeff Hoover, decried tactics by Democrats to amend bills at the last minute without giving Republicans enough time to study them. Lawmakers debated new amendments and legislative procedure right until the stroke of midnight.

Among the failed bills was a measure that would raise penalties for heroin traffickers and legislation that would restore voting rights for felons.

Regional
5:24 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Statehouse Staffers Accuse Rep. Gooch Of Inappropriate Behavior on Alabama Trip

State Rep. Jim Gooch
Credit Kentucky LRC

The two female statehouse employees who previously accused Kentucky Rep. John Arnold of sexually harassing them say another Democratic lawmaker acted inappropriately, this time on an out-of-state trip conducting official legislative business.

Legislative Research Commission employees Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner allege that Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, threw a pair of women's underwear onto a dining table at a restaurant during the Southern Legislative Conference held in Mobile, Alabama last year. 

In an interview with Kentucky Public Radio, Gooch didn't deny the allegations, and admitted to possibly brandishing a woman's "personal item" in front of LRC employees during a meal. 

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Politics
11:32 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Women Accusing Arnold of Sexual Harrassment Ask Commission to Reconsider Ethics Ruling

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

Update 12:49 p.m.
(From Associated Press report) One dissenting vote last week spared former State Rep. John Arnold from any disciplinary action stemming from multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Now, lawmakers have taken action to try to prevent that from happening again.  

 The House voted Monday to change the rules for the ethics committee to require commission members to attend at least half of the meetings every year. The rules changes also gave the committee jurisdiction over former lawmakers.  The one commission member who voted not to punish Arnold last week says he did so because he felt the commission didn’t have the power to punish lawmakers who’d already resigned. 

Original Post

Two women who made formal sexual harassment complaints against former state Rep. John Arnold have filed a motion with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission asking it to reconsider its ruling that cleared Arnold of ethics charges.

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