2013 General Assembly

2:05 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Reduce Gun Violence in Kentucky

Hoping to reduce gun violence in Kentucky, two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill  that would allow Kentucky State Police to set regulations banning certain firearms or high-capacity magazines.

The bill, which state Sen. Kathy Stein plans to file in the Senate on Thursday, would also allow cities and colleges to ban guns and would require private background checks  for every gun sale in Kentucky.

Stein, a Democrat from Lexington, said she's not seeking to infringe on Second Amendment rights from the U.S. Constitution.

"We value the Second Amendment," Stein said. " We recognize that there are very legitimate uses people have for guns, for sporting, for hunting and yes, for self-protection."

The bill's supporters say they are optimistic for a hearing in the short 2013 General Assembly session.

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10:08 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Abortion Ultrasound Bill Clears First Hurdle in Kentucky Legislature

Credit Kentucky LRC

Senate Republicans are again pushing a bill that would require doctors to allow women seeking abortions to look at ultrasound images.

The Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection passed the perennial measure Thursday morning on a 7-2 vote. The panel also gave thumbs up to another measure that would require that women get face-to-face consultations with medical professionals before undergoing abortions.

The proposals have repeatedly cleared the GOP-led Senate in recent years only to die in the Democratic-controlled House.

The ultrasound measure has been softened over the years from an original version that would have required doctors to show women the images.

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9:20 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Citing Bleak Economic Outlook, Beshear Pushes for More Tax Revenue to Fund Education, Pensions

Gov. Steve Beshear

Gov. Steve Beshear is encouraging lawmakers to take bold stances in reforming the state's tax code,  before past budget decisions and cuts and cripple Kentucky.

Beshear made the pleas Wednesday night in his annual State of the Commonwealth address.

(Read the State of the Commonwealth address.)

The speech focused on the state's lack of revenue—and how reforming the tax code would allow enough new money to solve the state's pension problems, plus increase funding for education.

The idea, Beshear said, was for lawmakers to be forward-thinking in their decisions this year.

"Our focus needs to be not just on the present, but on five, 10, even 25 years from now," he says.

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3:00 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Kentucky Pension Bill Passes Senate Committee, House Still Has Hang-Ups

Daviess County Republican Joe Bowen is chair of the Senate State & Local Government Committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

An effort to reform Kentucky's underfunded pension systems passed in its first hearing Wednesday from a state Senate committee meeting.

Senate Bill 2 stems from the recommendations of a legislative task force  that met over the summer to try and solve the pension problems.

It includes a suspension of cost of living adjustments and creates a new hybrid plan that acts like a 401-K with a promised rate of return.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, the bill sponsor, said the need for pension reform isn't a partisan one.

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12:57 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

University Bonding Projects on Fast Track to Pass Kentucky House This Week

A bill authorizing bonding projects for most of Kentucky's public universities  appears to have ample support to be approved this week in  the state House.

House Bill 7 authorizes more than $300 million in projects, including $22 million for bonds to fund a new international center and Honors College at WKU.

The bill unanimously passed the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, without a single lawmaker even questioning the bill.

Committee Chair Rick Rand, a Democrat from Bedford, said he expects the bill to easily pass the House very soon.

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7:58 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Rapists Couldn't Seek Child Custody from Victims Under Kentucky House Bill

Rep. Dennie Keene (D-Wilder) is the sponsor of a House bill offering legal protections to rape victims.
Credit Kentucky Public Radio

Women who produce children as a result of rape would not be obligated to share parental rights with their rapist under legislation filed Tuesday in the Kentucky House.

Kentucky, along with 34 other states, allows rapists to take their victims to court to seek those rights.

Rep. Dennis Keene, who is sponsoring the bill, called the allowance a "loophole in Kentucky law."

"I've got two daughters," said Keene, a Democrat from Wilder. "I wouldn't want any human being to go through that."

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12:57 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Reforms for Kentucky's Special Taxing Districts Moving Quickly in Frankfort

Efforts to reform the laws concerning more than 1,000 special taxing districts are quickly moving in Frankfort this week.

The reforms were filed as House Bill 1 Tuesday and are a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It would create an online registry to list the special districts and their required financial paperwork.

It would also re-designate them as special purpose governmental entities. The registry will be paid for initially with a special appropriation through the governor's office, then supplemented by fees on the special districts.

Edelen says the quick path the bill is expected to take shows that Frankfort can work to together on meaningful reforms.

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2:23 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Poll Shows Majority of Kentuckians Support Expanded Gambling

Gov. Beshear has long advocated some form of expanded gambling in Kentucky.

A recently-released poll shows that a majority of Kentuckians support expanded gambling.

In the Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, 60 percent of those polled said they support expansion. For the first time, a majority Eastern Kentucky resident support gambling. 

The support is for a so-called clean gambling bill, which would not include any protections for horse racing tracks.

That's the approach Governor Steve Beshear is planning for his next gambling push. But opponents of gambling say any potential bill will fail because supporters can’t choose a single strategy. Also, only one track, Churchill Downs, has endorsed Beshear's plan.

8:07 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Stumbo Moving Forward with Redistricting Plans Despite Beshear's Wishes

Despite a request from Gov. Steve Beshear to put off redistricting until later this year, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is moving forward with getting proposals on the divisive issue.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Stumbo sent a letter to House members asking them to submit proposed boundaries for new legislative districts by Feb. 1.

Stumbo said after the proposals come in, lawmakers would decide whether to try to tackle redistricting during the 2013 General Assembly, which resumes on Feb. 5 and is set to end March 26. Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Democrat from Owensboro, told WKU Public Radio he hopes lawmakers take up redistricting this year instead of putting it off until 2014, when House and Senate elections will be held.

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11:31 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Bill Would Give Some Ex-Felons in Kentucky a Clean Record

A bill filed in the General Assembly would allow some Kentuckians convicted of one or more class D felonies to have those convictions deleted from their record. The aim is to remove a barrier many ex-criminals face in gaining employment.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports a measure sponsored by Campbellsville Rep. John Carney and Covington Rep. Arnold Simpson would require a person convicted of one or more Class D felonies stemming from a single incident to complete his or her sentence and wait ten years before asking a court to expunge the offenses.

A judge would then consider recommendations from the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who would conduct interviews with victims of the crimes perpetrated by the felon.

Under the bill, if the convictions did not involve sexual offenses or any crimes against juveniles, and if the felon had no prior convictions, the judge could decide to expunge that person’s record.

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