The state Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a nullification bill that would prohibit Kentucky from enforcing new federal gun control laws if they're enacted, despite concerns about the bill's constitutionality.
The vote was 34-3. Three of the Senate's 14 Democrats voted no, stating that the measure would be trumped by the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause.
Sen. Jared Carpenter, a Berea Republican, sponsored the bill. He said the Supremacy Clause applies only if Congress is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers, which he said wouldn't apply to stricter gun measures.
"If I thought the bill would be symbolic, I would've written a resolution," Carpenter told the Associated Press. "I thought it needed more than that."
Lawmakers won't pursue a 6 percent tax on lottery tickets as a source of revenue to shore up Kentucky's financially troubled pension system for government retirees.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that idea was rejected out of concern that a tax might stifle sales of lottery tickets that generate money for education programs in Kentucky.
Instead, Stumbo said lawmakers will unveil legislation on Tuesday that will call for the lottery to create new games, including Keno, that he said could generate about $25 million for the pension system.
He said the legislation would also call for tax revenue from slot-like machines, called Instant Racing machines, at horse tracks to be designated for pensions. He said that could eventually net $100 million a year for pensions.
A bill addressing problems with last year's prescription pill mill bill has cleared the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the bill, which reduces some tough regulations that followed the pill mill bill. The legislation, House Bill 217, requires hospitals and long term care facilities to still pull KASPER reports, but lessens other regulations on them. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) tracks controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within the state.
Stumbo told lawmakers that the bill would help codify easier regulations that were recently published and that the effort to crackdown on prescription pill abuse was effective.
"But you have a reason to be proud if you supported that bill because it's working. It's working from Pikeville to Paducah," he says.
A majority of Kentuckians favor amending the state constitution to allow convicted felons to regain their right to vote once they’ve completed their sentences. A new Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll found that 51 percent are in favor of the move, while 38 percent oppose it.
Kentucky is one of five states that bar all felons from the polls unless their voting rights are restored by a pardon by the Governor or another state agency.
Thirty-six states automatically restore the voting rights of ex-felons. Bills have been introduced in the Kentucky House for six years that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, but those efforts have always fallen short in the state Senate. Last week such a bill passed in the House on a vote of 75 to 25.
A bill moving Medicaid late payment claims to the Department of Insurance appears to have some support in the state Senate.
House Bill 5 would take prompt pay issues with the Medicaid managed care system and put it through the Insurance Department's current claims process. Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services deal with late claims.
Sen. Julie Denton, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said she plans to give the bill a hearing and supports the bill's attempts to make managed care organizations pay providers.
"I think anything we can do to have more oversight and more assistance in keeping them in compliance with their contracts is a welcome breath of fresh air," she said.