Matt Bevin

Kenneth Hayden

Some state cultural leaders are concerned that a Kentucky arts agency restructured by Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday will prioritize commercial over creative value in the arts, diminishing their overall impact in the commonwealth.

The Kentucky Arts Council is designed to generate value for, participation in and benefit from the arts. Funding for the agency — which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — is provided by the General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

As the state partner of the NEA, the council receives matching funds from the organization to distribute within Kentucky. This year, arts groups such as Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Louisville Orchestra and Stage One received funding from the council. It also distributes funds to individual artists.

On Friday, Bevin dismissed all but four of its members and reduced the size of the council from 16 to 15 people. He also accepted the resignation of executive director Lori Meadows, although sources say she was pushed out.

In a news release, Secretary of the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage Don Parkinson wrote: “The new arts council will focus on ensuring that Kentucky artisans have the skills and knowledge to develop and successfully sell their products.”

Thinkstock

A judge says Gov. Matt Bevin can appoint six administrative law judges to help deal with a backlog of workers’ compensation cases while a lawsuit over whether the governor can reorganize the board that nominates new judges continues.

The same judge has ruled against Bevin in several decisions, drawing the ire from the governor.

Bevin reorganized the Worker’s Compensation Nominating Commission in May, dismissing seven members appointed by former Gov. Steve Beshear before their terms ended. He later replaced it with a five-person board that he named the Worker’s Compensation Nominating Committee.

A group of labor unions, injured workers and a former commissioner sued Bevin for the move.

And over the summer, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked the move, calling it a “wholesale firing of duly appointed state officials” and putting the old version of the board back in place.

J. Tyler Franklin

After Gov. Matt Bevin appealed a ruling that blocked his overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees, Attorney General Andy Beshear has requested that the case be fast-tracked to the state’s highest court.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled in October that Bevin’s reorganization of the U of L board was illegal, saying that the governor didn’t have the authority to unilaterally dismantle a public university board and remove all of its members in the process.

Bevin’s appeal would send the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but Beshear asked that the case go straight to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

In his motion, Beshear said the case needs to be resolved because Bevin has refused to fill vacancies on the board while the case is on appeal. He also cited concerns that U of L could lose its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for “undue political influence.”

With New Majority, Bevin Vows Tax Reform in 2017

Nov 9, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said Kentucky's new Republican legislature would overhaul the state's tax code in 2017, but it would most likely have to happen in a special session.

Bevin told WHAS radio host Leland Conway that tax reform "will happen" in 2017, but said it is unrealistic to think the legislature can get it done in a 30-day session that begins in January. Bevin did not say what the new tax code would look like, but said he is open to eliminating the income tax.

Republicans won a majority in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday for the first time since 1920. Bevin vowed the new majority would pass a right-to-work law, reform the court system, pass school choice, repeal the prevailing wage and get rid of the Common Core educational standards.

J. Tyler Franklin

A future state representative is taking issue with Gov. Matt Bevin’s recent comparison of sexually aggressive comments made by Donald Trump to rap music, video games and movies.

Attica Scott, a former Louisville Metro councilwoman, said Bevin’s comments were out of line for the governor’s office. Scott said for the governor to compare Trump’s remarks bragging about sexually harassing and groping women to anything “is inappropriate.”

“What does this say for me as a woman going to serve in Frankfort when our governor is willing to make excuses for a candidate for president and the way in which this candidate feels comfortable violating women’s bodies, bodies like my own,” she said.

On the Terry Meiners show on WHAS Tuesday, Bevin said that Trump’s comments bragging about groping and sexually harassing women were offensive, but then said critics of Trump’s language were hypocritical because they consume “the very same type of trash in movies and music and video games.”

Bevin specifically highlighted those who listen to rap music, read “Fifty Shades of Gray” and play the video game “Grand Theft Auto.”

Rob Canning

Gov. Matt Bevin has finally responded to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments bragging about harassing and groping women with impunity. The governor criticized the Republican presidential candidate and also those who consume “the very same type of trash in movies and music and video games.”

During an appearance on Terry Meiners’ WHAS radio show on Tuesday, Bevin said Trump’s comments were foul, vulgar and “shouldn’t have any place in public discourse.” But, he said, many people who were outraged by the comments are hypocritical.

“The same hypocrites that are supposedly outraged and offended by this are the very same people that I guarantee you were first in line to go watch ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to see if it was as trashy as the book they’d read,” Bevin said in the interview.

“They probably listened to rap music on their way home to go play ‘Grand Theft Auto’ with their kids and be encouraged to take other equally vulgar actions in language,” he said. “It’s the hypocrisy of it that I’m offended by.”

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentuckians trying to get health insurance through the state-based marketplace will use healthcare.gov instead of Kynect starting Nov. 1.

Personal information of those who previously used Kynect to get insurance will not be transferred to the federal platform, so consumers will have to reapply on the federal website.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says the move will save the state about $10 million per year in operating costs.

“Health insurance is a vital piece of maintaining health and well-being,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson in a statement. “We want to make sure Kentuckians interested in purchasing a qualified health plan know where to shop. Anyone with questions or who encounters difficulty with enrollment is encouraged to contact a call center for assistance.”

J. Tyler Franklin

A judge has denied Gov. Matt Bevin’s request to vacate a ruling against the governor’s overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

The governor’s office requested the modification earlier this week, saying that the court had misinterpreted facts in the case and made a “manifest error of law” in its legal analysis.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled last month that Bevin didn’t have the authority to abolish the U of L board because trustees couldn’t be removed without cause. On Friday, Shepherd ruled that “there is no reason to re-open this case, or to delay its finality, with additional arguments.”

Bevin argued that he didn’t “remove” board members but instead abolished the board in its entirety, which the governor says he had the authority to do.

In the decision from Friday, Shepherd once again ruled that abolishing the board amounted to removing its members.

Bevin Asks Judge to Reconsider U of L Board Ruling

Oct 19, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Matt Bevin is asking a state judge to reverse himself.

Attorneys for Bevin asked Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd Wednesday to reverse his ruling last month banning the governor from abolishing and replacing the University of Louisville board of trustees.

Attorney Stephen Pitt says Shepherd incorrectly summarized Bevin's arguments and used inaccurate interpretations of prior court rulings to form his opinion.

Lawyers for Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said Shepherd's decision is correct and does not need to be changed.

Shepherd said he would consider the arguments and issue a ruling soon.

When he does, it will give both sides an extra 30 days to file an appeal, which would delay a final ruling in the case.

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A court has ordered the release of $18 million back to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities after the state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin’s mid-year cuts to higher education were illegal.

The $18 million, which will be released by Thursday, has been held in an escrow account since Attorney General Andy Beshear challenged Bevin’s executive order cutting higher education funding by 2 percent.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled last month that Bevin didn’t have the authority to cut funding that had already been budgeted by the legislature, the $18 million was in limbo while the court waited to see if Bevin would request for a the case to be heard again.

Bevin announced he would not seek another hearing of the case last week, and on Friday, the governor and attorney general agreed to release the funds back to state colleges and universities.

Bevin ordered the 2 percent mid-year cuts after negotiations for the two-year budget this spring to free up money for the state’s ailing pension systems. Higher education was cut by 4.5 percent in the two-year budget and most other state agencies and programs were cut by 9 percent.

J. Tyler Frankin

Gov. Matt Bevin has not asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling against his mid-year cuts to higher education institutions. That means about $18 million in state funds that Bevin had cut are a step closer to being released to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities.

Last month, the state’s highest court ruled that Bevin didn’t have the authority to reduce the allotment that the state had already budgeted to give to higher education institutions.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary, said that Bevin still believes the court “erred in its decision” in the lawsuit, which was brought on Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“This was a bad decision for Kentucky and the ramifications from Attorney General’s political lawsuit could be significant,” Stamper said. “Moody’s called the decision a ‘credit negative’ for Kentucky because it limits Governor Bevin’s ability to manage difficult budget scenarios in light of Kentucky’s $35 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.”

J. Tyler Franklin

The vitriol-filled feud between Republican Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear escalated yet again this week, with the two politicians exchanging more charges and countercharges related to an investigator in Beshear’s office.

The latest salvo followed disclosures by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting on Wednesday about Medicaid fraud investigator David Reed Wilbers, who was already under scrutiny by his superiors for allegedly lying in one criminal case. The KyCIR story said Wilbers had been accused of making false statements to grand juries in two additional cases. (Read “Attorney General’s Investigator Allegedly Lied In Several Cases“)

In response to the story, Bevin issued a statement to KyCIR asking why Beshear was allowing Wilbers “to knowingly lie under oath — not just once but at least three times — and choosing to do nothing about it.”

The statement added: “What are they hiding? They say they want transparency in government, so why the coverup in this instance?”

Jacob Ryan

Gov. Matt Bevin told a group of ministers assembled at the governor’s mansion last week to ignore a federal law that forbids tax-exempt churches from advocating for the election or defeat of political candidates.

A crowd of about 130 church leaders from across the state attended the invite-only and unpublicized “Pastor Appreciation Forum” held at the governor’s residence.

An attendee named Ken Prevett, an investment consultant from Harrodsburg, originally posted the video to his Facebook page, which shows Bevin encouraging a group of pastors to disregard the Johnson Amendment, a section of the federal tax code passed in 1954.

A Facebook group called Kentuckians Against Matt Bevin has been circulating the video, which shows Bevin encouraging pastors to disregard the Johnson Amendment, a change to federal tax code passed in 1954.

Bevin, Democratic Leaders Argue Over Education Funding

Sep 29, 2016
Kentukcy LRC

Kentucky's Democratic leaders have blasted Republican Gov. Matt Bevin for withholding $4.6 million from public school districts — money Bevin says he will release if the districts ask for it.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and others pointed Wednesday to a decision Bevin made earlier this year to not fix a funding shortfall for public schools. Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said the request was made under the previous budget, which gave the governor the discretion to deny the money. Stamper said if education officials ask for the money under the new budget, Bevin will honor it.

A Department of Education spokeswoman declined to comment.

In a Wednesday news conference, held just over a month from the November elections, Democrats said Bevin should not wait to release the money.

J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he got an unsolicited text message from Gov. Matt Bevin Tuesday evening calling his office an “embarrassment to the Commonwealth.”

In a screenshot of the text released by Beshear, the message reads:

Bevin’s office confirmed that the governor sent Beshear a text but accused the attorney general of manipulating the message to exclude a link Bevin included. The link was to a Herald-Leader article that detailed allegations of misconduct by an investigator in the attorney general’s office.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary, accused Beshear of attempting to mislead reporters.

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