Greg Stumbo

Kentucky House Passes Coal-counties Scholarship Bill

Feb 10, 2014

The Kentucky House has voted to expand a scholarship program for students in the state's coal regions. House members voted 92-0 Monday to send the bill to the Senate.

The measure is aimed at increasing the number of people achieving four-year college degrees in the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields. The scholarships would be awarded to students who, for the most part, attend four-year college campuses in coal counties, in hopes they stay there after getting their degrees.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says coalfield counties in eastern Kentucky lag behind other parts of the state in the percentage of its residents with four-year college degrees.

The measure seeks to make permanent a pilot project.

The scholarships are funded with coal severance tax money.

Minimum Wage Increase Clears Kentucky House

Feb 7, 2014

After more than two-and-a-half hours of debate, the Kentucky House passed a bill Thursday afternoon that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

The issue drew impassioned speeches from supporting lawmakers. 

The debate’s most incendiary comments came from Rep. Jim Wayne.  The characteristically soft-spoken Louisville lawmaker criticized what he called an economic caste system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

“The free market system will guarantee everyone a quality job. Not so; a big lie," argued Wayne.  "The only way capitalism works if for government to step in and set the rules. Now you don’t wanna hear that, but it’s the truth. And that’s what the New Deal was all about.”

Opponents said the higher wage would force some employers to cut jobs. They said it would add costs for school districts and local governments to pay low-wage employees.

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Minimum Wage Increase Passes Kentucky House Committee

Jan 30, 2014
Kentucky LRC

A bill aimed at raising the minimum wage in Kentucky has cleared a House committee.

The measure is a top priority of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who says the current minimum wage doesn't provide a living wage. The Prestonsburg Democrat says full-time employees working for the minimum wage make less than the average cost of a used car in the U.S.

The bill was approved by the House Labor and Industry Committee on Thursday.

Under the bill, the state's minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2016. There would be a 95-cent increase this July and another 95-cent boost in July 2015.

Stumbo says Kentucky's minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009.

Kentucky LRC

The Speaker of the Kentucky House is signaling that a bill designed to fight heroin stands a good chance of passing his chamber this year.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo was quoted by the Courier-Journal as saying the odds of the bill passing the House are “pretty good”, given that lawmakers have shown a bipartisan ability to back legislation battling illegal drugs. A bill sponsored by Senate Republican Katie Stine seeks to increase the punishment of those convicted of selling high-volumes of drugs while increasing access to substance abuse treatment centers for addicts.

Stine’s bill passed the full Senate on Thursday and is now being considered by the House.

The northern Kentucky lawmaker says her part of the state has seen its treatment centers and law enforcement agencies swamped by a major surge in heroin abuse.

The Courier-Journal reports defense attorneys are objecting to a part of the bill that would help prosecutors convict some drug dealers of homicide when the sale of illegal drugs results in overdose deaths.

Kentucky LRC

No charges will be filed after a Kentucky lawmaker accidentally fired her personal handgun in her Capitol office.

Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs released a statement acknowledging that the gun went off indoors Tuesday, hitting a wall and a bookshelf.

Combs says she has had a concealed carry permit for years, and she still believes in protecting Second Amendment rights. The state police have ruled the shot an accident and won't press charges.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the incident doesn't mean the laws that allow guns in the capitol should be changed.

“I don’t see anything that needs to be changed," the Floyd County Democrat said. "Somebody’s gonna have to convince me otherwise. I mean, it was an unintentional discharge. I think it’s good policy that people like Leslie who, females, who work here late, have to go to their cars, go to functions, sometimes they’re trying by theirselves [sic], have the right to carry and protect theirselves.”

The story has gained national attention, but Stumbo says he doesn't think it will hurt the state's reputation.

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