Political news

Kentucky’s Judicial Nominating Commission has nominated three candidates to replace former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.

Will T. Scott resigned in January to enter the Republican race for governor. He has represented the 7th Supreme Court District, which covers much Eastern Kentucky since 2004.

The candidates are all Eastern Kentucky attorneys: David Allen Barber from Prestonsburg, Roger Donald Riggs from Mount Sterling and Janet Stumbo from Van Lear.

Barber is an advisor for House Speaker Greg Stumbo and a former Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge. Riggs was a judge in the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims, which deals with worker’s compensation claims in the state. Janet Stumbo has been a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge for the last seven years. She held the 7th District seat from 1993 to 2004, until she was defeated by Will T. Scott.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has 60 days to appoint one of the nominees to the seat.

Senate Votes To Limit How Much Kentucky Can Borrow

Feb 27, 2015
Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate voted 28-8 to cap the state's debt at 6 percent of its general fund revenue. The bill exempts the state's road fund, specific state agency debt and it also provides an exemption in case the governor declares an emergency.

The bill had bipartisan support and dissent, with and handful of Republicans and Democrats voting against it. Republican Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville said it was hypocritical to vote for a debt limit and then vote to borrow about $130 million for a new cancer research building at the University of Kentucky, which the Senate is scheduled to do next week.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said the debt limit would prompt future lawmakers to consider things differently.

Senate Acts to Shut Down Internet Cafes

Feb 27, 2015

The Kentucky Senate has approved legislation that could shut down internet sweepstakes cafes in the Commonwealth. The computer based businesses give away chances to win monetary prizes with the purchase of a service or product.

Proponents of the bill say the games the businesses offer are equivalent to gambling. Bowling Green Senator Mike Wilson says the establishments in his town are impacting charitable groups. "It has taken away from, in Warren County, the revenue that comes from charitable gambling for our veterans' organizations," said Wilson.

UPDATE: The bill's sponsor, state Sen. C.B. Embry tells Kentucky Public Radio the Senate will vote Friday on Senate Bill 76. The Fairness Campaign previously indicated the vote would be Thursday.

Director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign Chris Hartman says he anticipates the Republican-controlled Senate will pass a bill requiring students to use school bathrooms corresponding with their biological sex, but that it will stall in the Democrat-held state House of Representatives.

This week's Conservative Political Action Conference has drawn a huge crowd of activists and politicos, per usual — but it's also a prime spot for 2016 presidential hopefuls. The GOP's potential candidates — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Bobby Jindal — are rolling on and off the main stage, hoping to fire up the conservative audience. And how well they do with this crowd — an important part of their base — may say a lot about 2016. Here are five things I'll be watching for at CPAC:

WKU Sports

A Kentucky lawmaker says more time is needed to study the issue of licensing alcohol consumption at tailgating events before college games.

The tailgating language proposed by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian was removed from her bill by the House Licensing and Occupations Committee on Wednesday.

She floated the idea of creating a new liquor license to provide a legal framework for tailgating.

The Louisville Democrat says the issue was more complex than she expected. Marzian says she'll work on the issue ahead of next year's legislative session.

She says one question deals with enforcement of alcohol consumption at tailgating on private property near a university stadium.

The part of the bill that remains intact would allow passengers on certain cycle taxis to drink alcohol.

The committee approved that portion of the bill.

The Kentucky House has passed a bill that would allow the state to engage in public-private-partnerships, or P3s on major projects.

The bill passed 84-13 without an amendment that would have prohibited using a P3 to finance a toll bridge connecting Covington and Cincinnati.

A similarly amended bill was vetoed by Gov. Steve Beshear last year.

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Leslie Combs, said P3s are necessary because the state is running out of money.

A Kentucky Senate committee has begun debating a House-passed bill addressing Kentucky’s heroin abuse problem.

One point of contention between the House and Senate proposal is a provision that would allow local health districts to set up needle exchange program.

Senator Wil Schroder said that would make it harder for law enforcement to identify drug paraphernalia.

But Van Ingram, the Executive Director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, argued that needle exchanges are an important first point of contact between addicts and those who can help them.

“It starts to get a public health connection with someone who has checked out of the public health system," said Ingram.  "And say: ‘Here’s your clean needles, I noticed you’ve got an abscess on your arm, I can help you with that.  If you’re concerned about Hepatitis C, we can get you tested.'"

The House and Senate are also at odds over how to prosecute heroin traffickers.

Kentuckians who missed the Feb. 15 deadline to apply for discount health insurance now have another chance.  Governor  Steve Beshear announced Tuesday a special enrollment period from March 2 to April 30. 

Beshear said the grace period is for Kentuckians who did not realize they would have to pay a tax of at least $325 for not having insurance in 2015.  Carrie Banahan is the director of Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, called Kynect.

“Many people have not started to work on their taxes and are unaware probably that they are subject to a tax penalty," said Banahan.

Those who missed the Feb. 15 deadline and did not qualify for an exemption still have to pay a fee for any months they were not insured. But officials say if they sign up by April 30, they could avoid additional fees for the rest of the year.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The White House has notified the Senate that President Obama has, as promised, vetoed congressional legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," Obama said in the notification to the Senate.