politics

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin proposed cutting most state spending by 6.25 percent over the next two years and eliminating 70 programs across state government during his budget address Tuesday evening.

The new proposal comes after Bevin signed a two-year budget that cut most state spending by nine percent in 2016.

Bevin said the reductions would allow the state to set aside more money than it ever has for the ailing pension systems — about $3.3 billion, or 15 percent of state spending.

J. Tyler Franklin

Ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Commonwealth and budget address, Gov. Matt Bevin has hinted at major spending cuts and eliminating entire sections of state government to set aside more money for the public pension systems.

Administration officials say Kentucky needs an additional $700 million for the pension systems — about 20 percent of all state spending.

Bevin hasn’t said what specific programs would be targeted or spared from budget cuts. But during an interview on KET last week, the governor promised to preserve funding for education, infrastructure, law enforcement and services for the most vulnerable in the budget.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

Hours after the U.S. government announced it would again begin processing renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals due to a federal court order, President Trump claimed that the program — which has granted a temporary legal reprieve to people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was "probably dead."

Ryland Barton

This week, the state legislature continued to preoccupy itself with a sexual harassment scandal in the House of Representatives. After saying he would resign, and then he wouldn’t, Rep. Jeff Hoover formally resigned his post as Speaker of the House.

Meanwhile, a new pension bill still hasn’t emerged. But on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin got some good news in the form of federal approval for his proposal to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.


Kentucky LRC

A state Senator from Owensboro who serves as co-chairman of Kentucky’s Public Pension Oversight Board won’t seek another term in office later this year.

Joe Bowen is a Republican who has represented Kentucky’s 8th Senate District since 2011, and who also served for two years in the state House. Bowen said he wanted to announce his retirement now so that candidates interested in the seat can make plans.

Wikimedia Commons

Kentuckians with certain medical conditions would be able to get a prescription for cannabis under a bill filed by two Democratic lawmakers and promoted by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The 65-page bill would make it legal to smoke, ingest or grow cannabis — the scientific name for marijuana — with a prescription and would be regulated by the state agency that deals with alcohol production and sales.

Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky House has voted to do away with a special committee that was investigating allegations that former House Speaker Jeff Hoover sexually harassed a staffer.

The bipartisan committee was created after 8 Republican lawmakers filed a complaint against Hoover under a new disciplinary rule last week.

The House voted 90-0 to abolish that rule on Wednesday.

J. Tyler Franklin

House Speaker Jeff Hoover has submitted a letter of resignation and will officially step down from the speakership after saying he wouldn’t do so last week. He will keep his seat in the state House of Representatives.

Hoover delivered a fiery speech Monday, denying that he sexually harassed a staffer and accusing Gov. Matt Bevin and fellow lawmakers of spreading “lies from hell.”

“[Bevin] said we were sexually involved. He said that we were texting when this staffer was a teenager,” Hoover said. “Ladies and gentleman, I will tell you and I will tell this governor, those are lies from the deepest pits of hell.”

WKU Public Radio

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said she’s not surprised a federal commission on voter fraud has been shut down.

Grimes and a majority of Secretaries of State across the nation refused to submit voter information to the commission, which was set up by President Trump last year.

Trump claimed he lost the 2016 popular vote only because of massive voter fraud. Grimes said the commission never should have been a reality.

Thinkstock

Lawmakers are still working on revisions to a massive bill that would overhaul the state’s pension systems, but push-back from public employees and a statehouse sexual harassment scandal have slowed down the process.

In October, Gov. Matt Bevin and Republican leaders of the legislature unveiled a plan that would phase out the state’s use of a pension system that guarantees benefits for life and tinker with benefits of current employees.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers attended a mandatory sexual harassment prevention session on Wednesday, a day after the House speaker announced he wouldn’t resign his seat amid a harassment scandal.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat from Louisville, said lawmakers took the training session more seriously than in previous years.

“Maybe less laughter in the room,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think our capital is any different from any other workplace. I think there’s always the potential for people to abuse their power and to not be culturally sensitive and not be gender sensitive.”

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The sexual harassment investigation involving two state lawmakers from south central Kentucky is leading to plenty of interest in their seats. 

Four candidates have launched bids to replace embattled Republican State Representatives Jim DeCesare and Michael Meredith.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, two Republicans have filed to run for the seat belonging to DeCesare.  The 17th District House seat covers Butler and a portion of Warren County.

LRC Public Information

A Kentucky lawmaker who signed a secret sexual harassment settlement along with three fellow Republican legislators said Friday that he won't seek re-election in 2018.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News , Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green didn't mention the settlement in his announcement and didn't return the newspaper's phone calls about the decision Friday.

Gage Skidmore

During the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers will focus on making changes to the state’s pension systems and passing a two-year state budget.

But legislators are also eyeing making more changes to laws governing how Kentuckians can sue doctors for malpractice — a year after passing a law that requires claims to be reviewed by a panel of doctors before they can head to court.

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