Governor Beshear

Governor Steve Beshear is criticizing the secret recording of a campaign meeting of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell  that was leaked.

Two members of Progress Kentucky, Shawn Reilly and Curt Morrison, have been implicated by a Jefferson County Democratic official as being behind who secretly recorded the McConnell meeting.

Kentucky Democratic leaders have been largely silent on the situation since the news broke last week. But after being asked Wednesday about the recording, Beshear said he found the whole situation—both the secret taping and McConnell's remarks — to be awful.

"I think it's deplorable, just in general, about taping conversations and that kind of thing. I find it about as deplorable as I do Senator McConnell's political tactics that he was talking about," Beshear says.

Gov. Steve Beshear has until Saturday to sign or veto a bill that would open the door to industrial hemp farming in Kentucky. So far, he hasn't said what he'll do.

The General Assembly passed the bill last Tuesday in the final minutes of this year's legislative session, giving the governor 10 days excluding Sundays to veto it, according to the Legislative Research Commission.

The bill would allow Kentucky farmers to grow hemp if the federal government lifts its decades-long ban on the plant. Hemp can be used to make products ranging from paper to cosmetics.

It thrived as a crop in Kentucky for generations before it was classified as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Although hemp is similar to marijuana, it has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Kentucy Governor Steve Beshear has announced he is vetoing a controversial religious freedom bill. Civil rights groups had urged a veto, saying the measure would essentially legalize certain forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians by groups and individuals who could claim they were doing so because of their religious beliefs.

Some church groups from across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.

“Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement released by his office.  “I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 and the members of the General Assembly who supported this bill to protect our constitutional rights to practice our religion."

Beshear Being Pressured on Religious Freedom Bill

Mar 12, 2013

Gov. Steve Beshear is being pressured from both sides of a controversial bill that would strengthen legal protections for religious freedom in Kentucky.

Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, are urging Beshear to veto the measure. They say the law could allow someone claiming religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians, undermining civil rights protections in cities such as Lexington.

Religious groups, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, are asking the governor to sign the bill. They say it gives higher legal standing to someone who claims the government infringed on religion. The courts would still rule on the matter.

The General Assembly passed the bill on Friday. Beshear said Tuesday he hasn't looked at it yet.

Gov. Steve Beshear will lead an international business trade mission to Canada this summer. The trip will be the first-ever trade mission of the Kentucky Export Initiative, and will be aimed at boosting commerce between the Bluegrass State and America’s northern neighbor.

Canada already serves as Kentucky’s number one export destination, with the commonwealth exporting $7.3 billion in products and services there in 2012. That’s more than four times the total goods and services exported to Kentucky’s number two trading partner, Mexico.

The Kentucky trade mission will take place June 4-7 in Toronto.

Ashley Judd—the actress and potential Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate—will meet soon to with Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss the 2014 election, Beshear said on Thursday.

Judd has been meeting with potential donors and supporters in the past several weeks, including some in Louisville, the Hill reports.

The Kentucky native has been flirting with a U.S. Senate run for a few months.  Beshear and Judd previously spoke at the Bluegrass Ball during the presidential inauguration, the governor said.

"She's been trying to arrange and will be arranging more conversations here in the next month or so," said Beshear, a Democrat.

Kentucky's governor and other statewide constitutional officers would be elected in the same year as presidential elections under a bill approved Wednesday in a state Senate committee.

Without a change, statewide constitutional officers—including the secretary of state, state auditor and others—would be next up for election in 2015.

Under Senate Bill 55, those elections would move to 2016.

Those elected positions  will keep four-year terms, sticking with the presidential cycle. To do this, the bill extend the terms of the current officeholders by one year until the end of 2016.

Supporters of a statewide smoking ban brought high-profile help from the world of sports while rallying Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda  for their cause.

Urging Kentucky lawmakers to pass a statewide smoking ban, Gov. Steve Beshear and former University of Kentucky basketball player Derek Anderson spoke in favor of House Bill 190 at the rally. Currently more than 20 Kentucky communities have smoke-free laws, spanning across the state. And recent polls said that most Kentuckians support a ban.

Based on those facts, state Rep. Julie Raque Adam says the bill should be passed with bipartisan support.

"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," said Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican who is sponsoring a House bill. "It's just one that makes sense for public health and Kentucky's economy."

Office of Ky Governor

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.

The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly reconvenes February 5 to take up some major pieces of legislation. Lisa Autry spoke with Governor Steve Beshear about his priorities for the session. The two discussed state pension reform, the prospects of legalizing industrial hemp, Beshear's stance on increasing gambling in the commonwealth, and other topics.

On the subject of casino gambling legislation, Gov. Beshear told WKU Public Radio he isn't optimistic such a bill will pass in this year's General Assembly. The session is only 30 days, leaving little time for the much-discussed issue.

Unlike in the past, however, the Governor says future casino discussions may not focus just on the horse industry. Past legislation called for placing casinos at the state's racetracks, but Beshear says there isn't enough support that idea in the legislature.

He says he's willing to look at having free-standing casinos in the Bluegrass State. Opponents of expanded gaming say the state shouldn't depend on gambling to raise revenue, and some question what they consider overly-optimistic projections of how much money more gaming would really bring to the Bluegrass State.

Proponents of a local option sales tax have gained big ally in their legislative fight: Gov. Steve Beshear.

The local option sales tax would allow cities to levy an additional tax on top of the state’s current six percent sales tax for specific projects, if local voters approved the new tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are the chief advocates pushing the idea, arguing their cities would use the extra revenue for infrastructure projects.

Speaking on Wednesday to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, Beshear says he’s all for the idea.

“Well you know politicians are famous for being on both sides of an issue so let me say this… I’m for it,” Beshear says.

To go into effect, lawmakers would have to amend the state constitution and then statewide voters would have to approve the amendment.

Kentuckians are being urged to find volunteer opportunities this weekend to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.

Gov. Steve Beshear says whether it's a community effort or a smaller project, any volunteer work can make a difference. He says that participating in the National Day of Service on Saturday will honor King's life and works and will help build strong communities in Kentucky.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson says Kentuckians repeatedly show their desire to offer helping hands to others in need.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed on Monday. This year, the presidential inauguration coincides with the King holiday, and President Barack Obama is also urging Americans to volunteer.

A new honors college and international center at WKU and renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects.

The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.

The plan allows for $363-million in renovation and construction projects at six of Kentucky's eight state universities.

Stumbo says the projects were rejected because of election-year politics — because House lawmakers are elected in even-numbered years — and secondly because universities made unreasonable bonding requests.

And while many projects were rejected last year, the newly agreed upon ones are ready to start immediately.

“We had asked at the end of the last session to bring us a realistic list, what can you accomplish, what is shovel ready, what do you have the funding sources identified for, what can you accomplish in this next year,” Stumbo says.

The Courier-Journal is reporting that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will consider proposing an expanded gambling package this year that does not include increased gaming at the state's horsetracks.

Beshear says that may be the only way he can get a gambling bill passed in the state legislature.

The Governor has tried unsuccessfully in the past to get a casino gambling bill through the Kentucky Senate. Expanded gambling supporters have hoped that last year's retirement of former Senate President David Williams, who opposed increased gaming, would better the bill's odds in 2013.

Kevin Willis

Gov. Steve Beshear will deliver the annual State of the Commonwealth address in early February.

Spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said that the exact date hasn't yet been pinned down.

Beshear is expected to highlight his legislative priorities in the speech that will be delivered to a joint session of the Legislature.

Lawmakers are set to arrive in Frankfort on Tuesday to start the legislative session. But after a week, they're scheduled to adjourn until Feb. 5 when they return to get down to business.

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