Two Kentucky lawmakers have introduced bills that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.
Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal of Louisville and Republican Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown say the justice system is flawed and should not have the power to take a felon’s life.
Corrections data provided by the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty shows that 14 death penalty cases have been overturned since 1983.
Neal says he has also filed a resolution in the Senate that would create a task force to examine the cost of capital punishment to taxpayers. It's been estimated to cost an average $10 million each year.
“Whether you’re for it or against it, that’s one thing or the other," the Jefferson County Senator said. "But let’s understand the cost to the taxpayer because it impacts more. I guess the bottom line is, I think, as I talk individually with some members of the chamber, I think that argument is gaining some traction.”
Some commonwealth’s attorneys maintain that capital punishment acts as a deterrent on crime, a point that Neal and Floyd disagree with.
Over lunch at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Rand Paul discussed changes in criminal sentencing and restoring voting rights to ex-felons, a pair of issues the Democratic attorney general and the Republican senator regard as vital to improving the criminal justice system.
In a statement following Wednesday's meeting, the Justice Department said Holder appreciates Paul's leadership on both issues and is pleased to have the opportunity to work with him on shared priorities.
Holder and Paul agree on the need to stem prison overcrowding, which they say diverts money away from crime fighting, and to stop charging many nonviolent, low-level drug defendants with offenses that carry long mandatory minimum sentences.
Both Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam were among the guests at the White House's state dinner honoring French president Francois Hollande Tuesday night. Beshear and his wife Jane also participated in the arrival ceremony for the French president.
Beshear said it was a wonderful opportunity for the state anytime a Governor can be in the same room with so many leaders. France is the seventh-largest consumer of Kentucky products. It's the second time in recent weeks Beshear has found himself in the Washington spotlight. He was among the guests who sat with First Lady Michelle Obama at President Obama's State of the Union speech.
Haslam last month blamed scheduling conflicts for missing a planned tarmac meeting with Obama when he visited a Nashville high school for a speech, but that didn't stop the Republican Governor from being among the 350 people at last night's glitzy affair.
Expanded gambling may be dead for another year, according to Kentucky Senate Republicans.
A bill filed by Senator Dan Seum of Louisville would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot and let voters decide if they want casinos in the commonwealth, Seum said Monday that he doesn’t have the support in his chamber.
Majority Floor Leader Sen. Damon Thayer took it a step further, saying there’s no sentiment in the Republican-controlled Senate to take the issue up right now.
“The Senate has dealt with this bill on the floor of the Senate in the past; the House has never dealt with a constitutional amendment on the floor of the House," commented Thayer. "If the governor wants it badly enough, he oughta go to the members of his own party in the chamber that they control and try to push the bill.”
Seum says the bill isn't dead in the Senate, but it needs more time. Similar gaming bills have repeatedly died in the Senate for decades.
The Kentucky House has approved legislation intended to help citizens of the state better understand how to save and use their money.
Daviess County Representative Jim Glenn is the sponsor of the bill which would form the Kentucky Financial Literacy Commission. The lawmaker from Owensboro says he’s been advising young people about saving money for decades.
Glenn is sponsoring legislation forming the Kentucky Financial Literacy Commission. It’s passed the House and is now before Senators. Glenn, a professor at Owensboro Community and Technical College, says this effort could teach people of all ages.
“It helps the working class people. It helps senior citizens. It helps parents and it helps young students, four basic groups. So, they are gonna put together programs, publications, things that are gonna help people increase their core knowledge of financial literacy,” said Glenn.
Former President Bill Clinton is coming to the Bluegrass State to campaign on behalf of Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The Grimes campaign says Clinton will appear in Louisville February 25. No further details have so far been released about the visit. Clinton is the last Democrat to carry Kentucky in a presidential election.
Democrats are making no secret that Kentucky’s Senate race is one of the party’s top election priorities in 2014, and have indicated they are willing to pour money and resources into the effort to unseat Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate Minority Leader.
McConnell is facing a Republican primary challenge by Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist Matt Bevin.
A new statewide poll has good news for Kentucky’s Democratic Senate candidate.
While the general election is still nine months away, the poll shows Alison Lundergan Grimes with a four-point lead over five-term incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell.
The Bluegrass Poll was conducted for four Louisville and Lexington news outlets by Survey USA. It shows 46 percent of respondents favored Grimes in a matchup with Senator McConnell, while 42 percent supported the GOP incumbent.
The poll also reveals McConnell received just a 27-percent favorability rating. He still faces a primary battle against Republican Matt Bevin, who trails McConnell in the poll by 26 points.
Despite the poll results, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore says the campaign is “very comfortable about where this race stands.” Grimes said she is “humbled” by the numbers.
The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would amend the state constitution and remove the governor's ability to implement regulations.
The measure passed by a contentious 24-14 vote that fell along party lines. Republicans support the bill because they say it would give them the authority to create and repeal regulations. That power currently resides within the governor’s office.
Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer says the legislature should be able to review regulations like the Affordable Care Act and Common Core school standards.
“I don’t ever remember voting on Common Core standards here," Thayer said. "When we passed Senate Bill 1 in 2009, the main crux of it was eliminating the CATS tests and replacing it with standardized testing, and I believe that intent has been perverted somewhat with the implementation of these Common Core standards.”
Democrats call the measure unconstitutional, and say it would give too much power to the legislature.
The bill now heads to the House, which has a Democratic majority.
A Kentucky House committee has approved a ban on indoor smoking in public places and private businesses across the commonwealth.
The House Health & Welfare Committee voted 10-3. It would provide an exemption for open spaces, and will also apply to e-cigarettes.
Sponsor Susan Westrom says the ban is needed to improve the health of all Kentuckians regardless if they smoke, and will affect a variety of workplaces.
“What they haven’t considered is, we’re not just talking about restaurants and bars. We’re talking about people who work in manufacturing companies, who work in law practices, who work in insurance companies. It’s amazing, the different types of places people work. It’s not just restaurants and bars.”
Dissenting Republicans questioned what the ban would mean for personal freedoms.
The bill now heads to a floor debate in the House.
Senator Julie Denton, who testified in support of the bill, has filed companion legislation in the Senate.
After more than two-and-a-half hours of debate, the Kentucky House passed a bill Thursday afternoon that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.
The issue drew impassioned speeches from supporting lawmakers.
The debate’s most incendiary comments came from Rep. Jim Wayne. The characteristically soft-spoken Louisville lawmaker criticized what he called an economic caste system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
“The free market system will guarantee everyone a quality job. Not so; a big lie," argued Wayne. "The only way capitalism works if for government to step in and set the rules. Now you don’t wanna hear that, but it’s the truth. And that’s what the New Deal was all about.”
Opponents said the higher wage would force some employers to cut jobs. They said it would add costs for school districts and local governments to pay low-wage employees.
The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.