Senate leaders are sensing little interest in a bill that could legalize casinos in Kentucky and won't consider the issue in the current legislative session.
Senate President Robert Stivers, the Republican from Manchester, said Friday lawmakers would have little time to deal with the issue amid an already heavy agenda that includes shoring up the state's pension system for government retirees.
Despite a long history of wagering on horses, Kentucky has never allowed casinos. And lawmakers have been reluctant to change that in the Bible-belt state, knowing they may face disapproving constituents in future elections.
Gov. Steve Beshear, a leading proponent of casino gambling, said last week that passing casino legislation this year would be unlikely because the proponents were divided on how to proceed.
Senate President Robert Stivers kept a pledge Friday by sponsoring legislation aimed at ensuring Kentucky soldiers deployed overseas can cast their ballots back home through an electronic transmission system that the secretary of state will be required to develop.
The bill was given the designation "Senate Bill 1," signifying it is the Senate's top priority in the legislative session.
Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who backs the legislation, said 121 soldiers from Kentucky didn't have their ballots counted in last year's election because they didn't arrive back in the state by Election Day.
The biggest proposed change is that soldiers would no longer have to rely on traditional mail to return their ballots. The bill also would allow late ballots to be counted as long as they're back in the state before elections are certified, which happens three days after Election Day.
A bill that would end requirements on phone companies to provide landline services in parts of Kentucky where other options are available has cleared the state Senate.
Nicknamed the AT&T bill because of the phone company's support, the legislation was largely opposed by rural lawmakers who argue that the bill would end landline service to their areas without proper alternatives.
But Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, said the goal is to expand broadband and wireless in those rural areas before Kentucky falls behind other states in having those services available.
"It's time we changed our laws to reflect that reality," Hornback said. "Other states are moving forward. The question is, will Kentucky keep up or we'll be left behind again by other states like Indiana and Tennessee."
Legislation to bar state General Fund debt from exceeding 6% has been approved by the full Senate. Republican Senator Joe Bowen of Owensboro has been pushing the measure since last year when a similar measure passed the Senate but died in the House.
Bowen said Kentucky now has $6.3 billion in debt and that, he says, translates to $14,589 in debt for every man, woman and child in Kentucky.
Bowen said lawmakers need to do the right thing by putting a limit on the legislature's credit card. The bill now goes to the House where it faces a shaky future.