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The sponsor of bill seeking to designate the Bible as the official book of Tennessee has formally announced his bid to override Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's veto of the measure.

Haslam last week vetoed the bill over constitutional concerns of a government endorsement of religion and because he believes it "trivializes" the Bible. Supporters argue that measure seeks to honor the historic and economic significance of the Bible in Tennessee.

Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station filed notice of his intention to re-pass the bill during Monday night's House floor session, setting up a vote Wednesday.

The bill received 55 votes when it passed the House and 19 in the Senate. A veto override would require 50 votes in the 99-member House and 17 votes among 33 senators.

Federal prosecutors have replaced the type of criminal charge against former state Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer, a legal maneuver that suggests he is cooperating with the government.

In documents filed Monday, the government withdrew its criminal bribery complaint against Longmeyer and indicated it would soon be filing a bill of information.

A bill of information, unlike a grand jury indictment, is usually a sign that a defendant is cooperating and intends to plead guilty. Prosecutors can choose to file an information when a defendant waives indictment by grand jury and agrees to cooperate.

The move was approved Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier, according to court records.

The order does not say when the new charge will be filed. Longmeyer is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court in Lexington on Wednesday.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The 2016 General Assembly achieved its main goal—passing a two year state budget—at the last minute of the session, but the legislature also passed well over 100 laws that have been signed by Gov. Matt Bevin so far.

Bevin has ten days to veto bills once they’ve reached his desk. He also has the power to strike out portions of bills through his line-item veto power.

Unless they’ve been designated “an emergency,” new laws will take effect 90 days after Bevin signs them–mid-July for most.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major bills that passed this session, and some that didn’t make it.

Passed Into Law

Budget: The $21 billion plan cuts state spending by about 9 percent over the next two years. Several programs are exempted from the cuts including the Department of Veterans Affairs, public school funding, Medicaid and financial aid for higher education. State troopers get a pay raise under the bill and funding to state colleges and universities will be cut by 4.5 percent.

LRC Public Information

10:40 p.m.: The state legislature approved a two-year, $21.5 billion budget that delivers deep cuts to state programs while putting more than $1.2 billion in savings into the pension systems.

The spending bill now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk. He’ll have until April 27 to veto all or parts of the budget.

“This budget sends a strong signal to the financial and business communities that we take our financial obligations seriously,” Bevin said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing the details of the final bill over the coming days and signing a fiscally responsible budget into law.”

The legislature will not be able to override any vetoes because they ran out the clock on the legislative session. They normally have two legislative days to override.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

On Friday, lawmakers have one last opportunity to approve bills, override vetoes and — most importantly — pass a state budget before the legislative session gavels out midnight Friday night.

Gov. Matt Bevin has signed more than 100 bills into law, vetoed six and line-item vetoed parts of a seventh. If the governor vetoes a bill, lawmakers can override the decision with a majority vote in each chamber.

On Friday, lawmakers will have the opportunity to override vetoes Bevin has made so far, but once the legislature adjourns, they won’t be able to override.

Both chambers gavel in at noon on Friday. The General Assembly will end at the stroke of midnight.

Bills In Striking Distance:

Needle Exchange Regulations: Would require the department for public health to establish guidelines for disposing needles. The bill unanimously passed the House, but the Senate amended it to require exchanges to only hand out as many needles as they take in. The House is now considering the changes.

LRC Public Information

State lawmakers have come to an agreement on a budget that makes nearly across-the-board spending cuts, enacts performance funding for higher education and puts more money into the ailing state pension systems.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo called it “an adequate and effective blend” of the House, Senate and Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget priorities.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the bill was ready for a vote.

“I believe we have an agreement on all issues related to the budget,” Stivers said.

The final document is expected to be approved by both legislative chambers on Friday, the last day of the General Assembly.

Grant Short

An Owensboro man who hopes to replace Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator says lawmakers need to do more to strengthen working-class families. 

Grant Short is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Republican incumbent Rand Paul. 

In Bowling Green on Wednesday, Short talked about his Family Values Plan that calls for child care subsidies, federal sick days, and universal Pre-K, among other things.  Short added that he has a plan to pay for it all.

"I've high-balled this at $1.8 billion to implement over ten years," Short told WKU Public Radio.  "The way you pay for it is by subsidizing human beings the same way as subsidized global oil companies.  We subsidize them on a rate of a trillion dollars, so I think we can find one-tenth of that to subsidize the American family who is struggling."

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Budget negotiations are scheduled to resume in Frankfort this afternoon. Lawmakers have only hours to hammer out a final compromise in time for the end of the legislative session.

Legislators have to come to an agreement by early Thursday morning to get a budget document prepared for a vote in both legislative chambers sometime on Friday, when the General Assembly officially ends.

Budget talks are expected to go into the early morning.

The stakes of meeting the deadline are high: Yesterday, Gov. Matt Bevin announced he would not call a special legislative session to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown, with only necessary government services staying open.

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Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a bill that will allow some Class D felonies to be cleared from criminal records five years after a sentence is completed.

The felony expungement bill failed in the legislature for more than a decade largely because of Republican opposition from the Senate. But Bevin, a Republican, said he would support the bill on the campaign trail last year and has now followed through on the promise, signing it into law on Tuesday.

“It is critical that there is an opportunity for redemption, that there is an opportunity for second chances, because America is a land that was founded on these principles,” Bevin said.

The new policy would apply to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed. Some of the most frequently committed offenses are failure to pay child support, possession of a controlled substance and theft.

LRC Public Information

If lawmakers fail to pass a state budget by the end of the legislative session on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin says he won’t call a special legislative session to give them more time.

If a two-year budget doesn’t pass by June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown. Nonetheless, Bevin is adamant that he won’t give lawmakers more time.

“I will not reward the inability to do the job that people were sent here for by paying them extra money,” Bevin said. “The job can get done. I believe the job will get done because the job should get done.”

The Legislative Research Commission estimates that it costs about $63,000 each day the legislature meets.

Only the governor can call a special session.

Lawmakers have been deadlocked over the budget for weeks and have now run into a hard deadline: The constitution won’t allow the legislative session to go past April 15.

WKU Public Radio

Tennessee’s Attorney General is warning that the state could lose federal funding if a controversial bathroom bill clears in the General Assembly. 

The bill would require Tennessee students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.  Supporters say the legislation is necessary to protect the privacy of students.  Opponents argue the bill is discriminatory. 

State Attorney General Herbert Slattery issued an opinion Monday saying the bill would violate Title IX, which means the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding. 

The Tennessean reports that Governor Bill Haslam and the state Education Department have raised similar concerns, but the Governor has not said if he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.  The bill has so far cleared a House committee.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

As Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration and a private consulting firm work to fix Benefind, the troubled one-stop portal for health and social services in Kentucky, the blame game over who’s responsible for its problematic rollout continues.

At a hearing of the state Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, a top Bevin administration official blamed the federal government and previous Gov. Steve Beshear for the problems plaguing the system. The online portal, which launched Feb. 29, has been marred with long wait times, lost services and erroneous notices of canceled benefits.

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told lawmakers that federal officials tested Benefind before it was released and gave the green light to launch.

“If there’s a problem, someone should take it up with the federal government. They said ‘you need to move forward,’” she testified to the committee.

Kentucky Lawmakers Extend Deadline, Reviving Budget Talks

Apr 11, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers have agreed to extend the deadline for approving a two-year operating budget of more than $65 billion for state and federal services.

Budget talks broke down late Sunday night. The legislature was scheduled to convene for the final time this year on Tuesday. The schedule would not give lawmakers enough time to vote on an operating budget.

Monday, House and Senate leaders agreed to move the legislature's final day to Friday. That is the last day they could meet according to state law.

Budget negotiations are scheduled to formally resume at 1 p.m. Tuesday. If lawmakers do not pass a budget by Friday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin would have to call them back for an expensive special session in order to avoid a partial shutdown of government services.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear announced on Monday he had filed suit against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin over the governor’s recent order imposing an immediate 4.5 percent funding cut to state colleges and universities.

The cut amounts to some $41 million in spending reductions from what the General Assembly had agreed to in a previous budget.

Beshear called Bevin’s March 31 order “unconstitutional and illegal.”

The Bevin administration has said state law supports his order to make the cuts unilaterally.

WFPL News

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is encouraging state lawmakers to pass a budget before the legislature adjourns for the year.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the Republican governor still hopes lawmakers can pass a budget without an expensive special session.

House and Senate lawmakers ended budget negotiations late Sunday night after declaring an impasse. The legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday for the final time this year. Lawmakers could move their final day to as late as Friday to give them more time to reach a deal. But Senate Republican leaders said they would not support that move.

If lawmakers fail to pass a budget, Bevin would have to call legislators back for an expensive special session. Otherwise, portions of state government would shut down on July 1.

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