11:30 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Indiana Lawmakers to Weigh in on Industrial Hemp Crops

Hemp plants could start appearing in Indiana fields if a state Senate bill to allow growing the crop gains support from lawmakers.  The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Friday afternoon.

Indiana would need to apply for a federal permit to grow the crop that’s used to make paper, clothing and building materials. 

Hemp is similar to marijuana but has a much smaller amount of the latter’s psychoactive compound.  The bill also would declassify industrial hemp as marijuana in Indiana. 

Kentucky passed similar legislation to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp crops last year.

9:55 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Ex-Secretary of State is Finalist for Transy Post

Trey Grayson
Credit Harvard University Institute of Politics

Transylvania University has chosen four finalists for the school's presidency, including former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Also named as finalists Thursday are Sacred Heart University Arts and Sciences Dean Seamus Carey, University of Montevallo Senior Vice President for Administrative Affairs Michelle Johnston and American University Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Thomas Minar.

Grayson told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Transylvania alumni contacted him last year after Owen Williams announced he would leave at the end of this school year. University faculty overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence in Williams' leadership last June.

Grayson has been at The Institute of Politics at Harvard University since 2011 and says he has begun to realize that higher education is a passion for him.

The finalists will visit campus starting Sunday.

Kentucky's Troubled Pensions
3:17 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Like "The Walking Dead": Kentucky's Pension Liabilities Creating Nightmare Scenarios

A look at the realities facing Kentucky's underfunded pension plans

AMC’s hit zombie-apocalypse-drama ‘The Walking Dead’ is a story about a shambling mass of the undead that brings civilization to its knees.

Chris Tobe says the show is an apt metaphor for what will happen if Kentucky lawmakers don't get serious about funding the state’s pension systems.

“I think we’re going to be ‘The Walking Dead’ for a long time,” Tobe says. “We’re all gonna keep saying, ‘oh, we’re just fine,’ and we’re gonna be ‘The Walking Dead’ for a long, long time.”

Tobe is a former trustee of the Kentucky Retirement Systems turned whistleblower who has over 30 years of public and private experience in financial investments. He's also a private consultant for pension funds elsewhere.

He says that for over a decade, legislators and governors from both parties have underfunded the Kentucky Employee Retirement System, or KERS, which provides pensions to state employees.

Currently, there's only enough money in the fund to pay about a quarter of the liability, which is what it will need to pay out in benefits.

Tobe says it's one of the worst in the nation.

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11:32 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Filing Deadline Nears for Kentucky's Primary Election

People interested in running for public office have a few more days to file paperwork to be placed on the May 20 primary election ballot in Kentucky.

The secretary of state's office says almost 4,000 candidates have already filed for more than 300 offices on this year's ballot. The deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Candidates who are required to file with the secretary of state's office are those running for U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state senator, state representative, Supreme Court justice, Court of Appeals judge and circuit and district judge. Candidates for city and county office file with the county clerk in the county of service.

Filing forms for candidates who must file with the secretary of state and a list of candidates who have already filed is available in the related links section.

3:44 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Abortion Measure Requiring In-Person Meeting With Medical Professional Passes KY Senate

Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, debates an informed consent bill up for consideration in the Kentucky Senate as Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, the bill's sponsor, looks on.
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill to require any woman seeking an abortion to have a "face-to-face" meeting with a medical professional before the procedure.

The measure seeks to update the state's informed consent law. It requires women to receive counseling and then wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion.

The bill passed the Senate on a 33-5 vote Wednesday and now goes to the House.

Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, the bill's lead sponsor, says abortion providers have "found a way around" the law's intent by providing the information through recorded telephone messages.

Gregory, R-Monticello, says in-person meetings would ensure women are fully informed before making a potential "life-ending decision."

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, says the bill is intended to cause a "guilt trip" for women seeking abortions.

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1:04 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Gambling Opponents: Increased Gaming Will Mean More Addiction and Crime

Opponents of expanded gambling in Kentucky are focusing on the social costs of casinos.

Testimony from anti-gaming groups in Frankfort Wednesday connected expanded gambling with increases in crime and gambling addiction.

Former Representative Stan Cave is now with the anti-gaming Family Foundation. He says in addition to the vices associated with gambling, he’s concerned with a lack of transparency governing gambling interests.

“The gambling bill enables concealment, and licenses secrecy," he said. "For example, section four expands the exceptions to the open records law, to whatever the new gambling commission considers, quote, ‘confidential, proprietary information of the commission.’”

Legislation has been filed to amend the state constitution to allow expanded gambling and to put the issue before voters on the November ballot.

The legislation in the House includes funds for treating gambling addiction.

Neither chamber has taken up the issue for a vote on their respective floors.

10:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Beshear Optimistic Coming Off Budget Speech

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

In his budget speech Tuesday night, Governor Steve Beshear told Kentucky lawmakers to expect in the coming days his plan for reforming the state’s tax code.  It's a perennial issue that's seen little movement in the General Assembly. 

However, the term-limited governor told WKU Public Radio that not being up for re-election is an asset.

"Members of the legislature, particularly in the other party, don't view me as a threat in the upcoming statewide elections in 2015 and I think that helps them sit down and work with me in a more productive way," said Beshear.

On the other hand, all of the House is up for re-election this year and half of the Senate.  Still, Beshear said he is sensing a willingness to take a hard look at the tax structure.

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9:31 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Bevin Gets Endorsement and Pledge of Financial Support from FreedomWorks

A national conservative organization is endorsing the Tea Party challenger in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

FreedomWorks says it will invest as much as $500,000 to help Matt Bevin defeat Senator Mitch McConnell in this year’s Republican primary. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe was quoted by the Courier-Journal as saying his group believes Bevin is “an exceptional candidate” who has support from grassroots conservative activists across the commonwealth.

FreedomWorks champions candidates who say they want smaller government, and has earned a reputation for not being afraid to challenge established GOP lawmakers.

Bevin, a Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist, has attacked McConnell as a Washington insider who has betrayed conservatives by repeatedly voting to increase the debt ceiling.

McConnell has said he is confident he will win the GOP primary, and has a huge fundraising advantage over Bevin.

2:54 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Barren County Judge-Executive Announces Retirement

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer
Credit Barren County Government

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer will not seek re-election to a fourth term. Judge Greer says her family had a lot to do with her decision to retire.

"My family doesn't want me to run again, so I just gave in and said okay," admits Greer. "I've loved what I've done and if I was 20 years younger, I wouldn't think twice about running again and again."

During her three terms heading Barren County government, Greer tells WKU Public Radio that the highlight was building the correctional center. 

Greer's retirement leaves no shortage of potential successors. 

Barren County Magistrate Chris Steward is seeking the judge-executive post, as well as five others. They include Brian Taylor, W.R. Tarry, David Honeycutt, Don Gossett, and Rob Strickland.

1:45 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Thompson: Hoping for Increased State Funding for Primary Education, Capital Projects

Lawmakers are in Frankfort Tuesday to hear Gov. Beshear give his 2014 budget address.
Credit Kevin Willis

A Daviess County lawmaker believes one of the few bright spots in Tuesday's budget address by Governor Beshear could be restored funding for primary education.

Democratic Representative Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio he's hoping the governor will announce a boost for the statewide education funding formula known as SEEK, or "Support Education Excellence in Kentucky".

"It's really being funded at the 2009 level," Rep. Thompson said. "And then the strands of education--things like professional development and afterschool services and I.T. Those things have been dramatically cut some 30 to 40 percent over the last four or five years."

Thompson thinks there is also a chance the governor will announce funding for some capital projects around the state.

"Technology buildings, science buildings, education buildings--those types of things that are about reinvesting in communities that not only provide construction jobs, but also provide opportunities for workforce training and skill development," the Philpot Democrat said.

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