Legislation that would allow those with permits to carry concealed weapons into bars and restaurants is on its way to the Kentucky House. The Senate passed the measure Thursday by a 30-4 vote.
Northern Kentucky Senator John Schickel believes Senate Bill 60 is all about the right to defend oneself. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schickel said crime rates and gun-related accidents have fallen since concealed carry laws were established.
Schickel says there is a place for gun possession in a bar.
“Now some have said that’s crazy, how could you, how could you Mr. President, how could you mix guns and alcohol, that’s very irresponsible," said Schickel. "Well, Mr. President, actually the opposite is true, the opposite is true. This law strictly forbids anyone to consume alcohol while they have a concealed carry weapon.”
Schickel says bar owners can still opt to not allow concealed weapons in their establishments.
One of the four "no" votes came from Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas, who argued policing the law will be very difficult. He says gun owners could feel “entitled” and “one thing could lead to another,” ending in violence.
The bill cleared the full Senate late Wednesday by a 34-4 vote. It now goes back to the House for reconciliation. The House bill did not include a five-year waiting period, while the Senate version did.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul has thrown his support behind a state bill that would restore the voting rights of some felons.
Paul spoke before the Kentucky Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday. He reminded the panel of the Republican Party’s history of support for civil rights. And he noted the higher incarceration rates of African-Americans in Kentucky, where a fifth of black adults cannot vote due to a felony record.
“There was a time in our society where there were intentional incarcerations based on race," the Bowling Green Republican said. "I don’t think it’s intentional, but there … has become a racial outcome on who’s incarcerated in our country, and I think that’s something that has to be addressed here. Because not only is the incarceration, I think, unfair, then they get out and the voting rights are impaired.”
A bill restoring voting rights for certain felons then cleared the committee by a unanimous vote. But it was amended to include mandatory five-year waiting period and an exemption for those with multiple offenses.
The presumed front runners in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race have different reactions to a Congressional Budget Office report on raising the minimum age.
The non-partisan CBO report suggests that increasing the federal minimum wage would raise earnings for more than 16.5 million people, but it would also reduce employment by roughly 500,000 workers.
The analysis comes as the Senate prepares to debate a gradual increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour in 2016.
The Senate’s leading Republican Mitch McConnell has made his opposition to a minimum wage hike a talking point in his re-election campaign.
He released a statement saying the report “spelled out some of the dire consequences of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ blind allegiance to Barack Obama’s agenda.”
Grimes’ is the leading Democratic candidate in the race for McConnell’s seat. Her campaign manager Jonathan Hurst didn’t respond to the CBO findings, and instead, referenced a study by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy that claims a minimum wage increase would lift the pay of one in four Kentuckians and create 2,200 jobs.
A Kentucky state legislator says he’s continuing his inquiry into Tennessee Valley Authority board meeting procedures a month after requesting documents from the company.
State Representative Brent Yonts (D-Greenville) attended a TVA board meeting in November where members voted to shutter some generating units at the Paradise Steam Plant in Muhlenberg County.
Yonts said he was flabbergasted to see the processes on which the TVA Board conducts its meetings.
Yonts said the vote to close the units came with no debate or meaningful discussion other than a vote based upon a motion prepared by someone other than the board members.
In January, Yonts sent a letter to the TVA criticizing the board’s lack of transparency and requested several documents from the company under the Freedom of Information Act including previous board meeting minutes and the data the board based its decisions on.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has cosponsored a bill that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
Stumbo is one of 18 cosponsors backing the proposed legislation filed by Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian.
The House Speaker says that his support for fairness coincides with his duty to uphold the constitution.
“I’ve never stood by and allowed people’s rights to be trampled in that manner. I don’t believe in it. I believe the constitution is exactly what it is: It requires that everybody be treated the same way regardless of your creed, color, national origin or sexual preference.”
Stumbo says that he thinks there’s increased support in his chamber for the bill compared to previous years.
Chris Tobe's interview with WKU Public Radio about the harsh reality facing Kentucky's pension programs
Chris Tobe is a man who is currently playing the role of “bearer of bad news.”
He worked as a trustee with the Kentucky Retirement Systems from 2008 to 2012, where he got an up-close-and-personal look at how the state’s pension systems were being underfunded. Tobe is also the author of the book Kentucky Fried Pensions, and he makes presentations around the state detailing the crisis facing the commonwealth’s pension programs.
While Gov. Steve Beshear and state lawmakers from both parties have hailed pension reform efforts passed in 2013, Tobe says it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to fix the underfunding issue.
Compared to the rest of the nation, Tobe believes “Kentucky is probably second worst to Illinois” when it comes to the health of its public pension programs.
An employee with the Legislative Research Commission has been fired after appearing in an online video in support of a Democratic Senatorial candidate.
The Courier-Journal reports that Charles Booker, 29, lost his job yesterday as an analyst for the Government Contract Review Committee. Booker appeared in a video for Alison Lundergun Grimes, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mitch McConnell.
In the video, Booker’s wife accuses McConnell of being out of touch with poor Kentuckians. Booker appears briefly in the video and makes a few comments about western Louisville.
LRC personnel policy prohibits employees from taking part in partisan political activity.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will make an appearance Wednesday before a state Senate committee to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for some felons.
The proposal has won House approval and is being considered by the State and Local Government Committee. Paul's office said Republican Joe Bowen, the committee chairman, invited Paul to testify.
Paul, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, has urged passage of the measure, saying voting rights are "sacred."
If approved, the measure would go on Kentucky's November ballot. Voters would decide whether to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights for some felons who completed their sentences and terms of probation.
Felons now can have their right to vote restored in Kentucky by petitioning the governor.