Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an order to cover a $91 deficit in the state's $9.5 billion state budget.
State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order cuts $3 million in state spending. He made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent.
Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects.
This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.
The 134th Fancy Farm Picnic is now just a little more than two weeks away and the line-up of speakers is almost complete.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, are expected to face off for the second time in as many years on August 2. Fancy Farm political chair Mark Wilson says, unlike Grimes, McConnell has yet to confirm his appearance, but expects the five-term Senator will make the trip.
Wilson said the picnic’s attendance could swell to as many as 20,000 people.
“Normally we’ll do 10-12,000 or so," Wilson said. "But with all the heightened interest in the McConnell/Grimes race and then you’ve got U.S. Sen. Rand Paul with some presidential aspirations and then we’ve got Jack Conway and James Comer, both sitting state officials who have gubernatorial aspirations.”
Comer has yet to actually declare himself a candidate for governor. The lone Republican to officially enter the race, Hal Heiner, will not be invited to speak, according to Wilson, because he’s not a sitting public official. McConnell's primary challenger, Matt Bevin, ran into the same problem at last year's event, but was eventually invited to speak.
Ed Marksberry, the Owensboro contractor who had hoped to appear as an independent candidate on this November’s ballot for the Kentucky Senate race, says he will stop trying to collect signatures to that end.
In a written statement, Marksberry says he collected only half of the 5,000 signatures needed to appear on the ballot. He says recent health issues have impeded his efforts to meet an August 12th deadline.
Marksberry says the race between incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes lacks a progressive voice. When asked whether he’ll support Grimes, Marksberry told the Herald-Leader, “absolutely not”.
A Super PAC supporting Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is greatly out-performing a similar group that is raising money for Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
According to a report in the Courier-Journal, the vast majority of the contributions made to the pro-McConnell group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership come from out-of-state individuals.
That Super PAC this week reported raising nearly $424,000 during the months of May and June. None of that money came from Kentuckians. The single biggest donation came from Sam Fox of St. Louis, the CEO and chairman of a private company that acquires businesses.
Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has raised more than $3.7 million dollars since it was formed last year, with less than 5 percent of that coming from donors with Kentucky addresses.
A Super PAC supporting Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes called We Are Kentucky raised $50,000 during the second quarter, while spending nearly $65,000 in that same time period. Since forming last year, the group has raised $343,000, a fraction of what Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has taken in to support Senator McConnell.
A bevy of new state laws passed this year by the Kentucky General Assembly is going into effect this week. The legislation ranges from dealing with invasive plant species to tougher ethics laws governing the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists.
The state constitution stipulates that laws without an “emergency” clause go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of a legislative session. Since the last day was April 15, many new laws are going into effect this week.
Senate Bill 170 grants the state expanded powers to combat invasive plant species like kudzu, which can quickly overtake other plants by drowning them in shade.
Similarly, House Bill 28 will make it tougher for lobbyists to invade the decision-making process in Frankfort by restrict their ability to pay for a legislator’s expenses.
Other laws taking effect this week include a streamlined concealed carry permitting process for victims of domestic violence; expanded prescription-writing authority for registered nurses; leniency on lesser crimes for victims of human trafficking; and permitting by-the-drink alcohol sales at state parks, if nearby residents approve it.
Kentucky’s two U.S. Senate candidates are reporting major fundraising hauls.
Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she took in over $4 million during the second quarter ending in June, breaking the record for most money raised by a Kentucky Senate candidate in a single quarter.
That record was previously held by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, the man Grimes is trying to defeat this November. McConnell raised $2.9 million during the fourth quarter of 2008.
Overall, the Grimes Senate campaign has raised nearly $11.3 million dollars to date.
Shortly after the Grimes camp released their fundraising totals Tuesday, the McConnell campaign announced they raised $3.1 million dollars in the second quarter. The incumbent reported $9.8 million in cash on hand--about $3.6 million more than his Democratic opponent.
The race between Grimes and McConnell is shaping up to be one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the nation, with many analysts predicting it could also be one of the most expensive Senate campaigns in history.
A renewed effort to pass legislation to combat Kentucky’s heroin epidemic is gaining traction in the state legislature.
The chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary committees are in talks to revive the bill, championed by outgoing Republican Sen. Katie Stine, whose Northern Kentucky district has been hit especially hard by heroin abuse.
Stine’s bill died in the final moments of the 2014 session over constitutional concerns about its homicide provision, which would have charged dealers for murder in the event of an overdose, and GOP dissension over the bill’s needle exchange program.
“We are discussing ways to curb the addiction, get it off our streets; to deal more harshly with those whom are dealing in the misery; and to save lives, ultimately,” said Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “And that’s what we as public servants need to be doing.”
Tilley says all options -- including the homicide provision -- are still on the table, and that several bills will likely take shape soon.
Gov. Steve Beshear remains undecided on whether he’ll call a special legislative session to revisit the issue.
Starting Tuesday, a host of new laws approved by the 2014 General Assembly take effect in Kentucky.
Under HB 128, anyone granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order may receive a temporary concealed carry permit in one business day. The normal application process can take up to 60 days. The permit would be good for up to 45 days without undergoing the complete training necessary for a full concealed carry license.
Another law, HB 232, taking effect Tuesday requires businesses to notify consumers of a security breach in which their personal data may have been illegally accessed or stolen.
Another measure, SB 98, creates an adult protection registry with a list of personal caregivers who have had substantiated claims of abuse or neglect toward the elderly and disabled. The registry’s website is expected to be up and running by the end of summer.
Veteran State Representative Jody Richards of Bowling Green is facing his first Tea Party challenger in the November election. Jenean Hampton is taking on the longest continuously serving state representative in Kentucky history.
"There was much prayer involved. This wasn't my plan," said Hampton in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "Sometimes you're screaming at the TV, you see things that need to be improved, and you're screaming that someone needs do something, well sometimes that someone is you."
Hampton serves as chair of the Bowling Green-Southern Kentucky Tea Party. The 55-year-old Republican is an Air Force veteran and businesswoman who wants to use her private sector experience to spur economic development in the commonwealth.
In her first run at public office, Hampton is taking on political heavyweight Jody Richards who was first elected to the legislature in 1975 and served as House Speaker from 1995 to 2009. Over that time, he's become the recipient of several plum committee assignments, including Appropriations and Revenue. Richards told WKU Public Radio that his influence in Frankfort could not be matched by a newcomer.
"No new person would have my committee lineup nor would they have the connections I do," he suggested. "I pride myself in working well with both sides of the aisle."
A Kentucky Congressman who leads the House Appropriations Committee says President Obama needs to lower the amount of funding he’s seeking to address the crisis along the country’s southern border.
Politico reports that Somerset Republican Hal Rogers told reporters Friday that the nearly $4 billion the President wants is “too much money.” The President made the request in response to the growing number of unaccompanied children who are trying to enter the country from central America.
Congressman Rogers said while members of the appropriations committee continue to look through the President’s plan, the $3.7 billion dollar price tag will have to come down in order to gain House support.
While he didn’t suggest a different number, Rogers said he hopes to make a counter-proposal next week.