A bill that would establish a public database of economic development and tax incentives offered in Kentucky has cleared a House committee.
Rep. Larry Clark filed the bill that would require the state’s Economic Development Cabinet to provide information on how much money the state gives to private companies for the purposes of job creation.
“This will track everything," the Louisville Democrat said. "It’ll be accountability, transparency, first for the website, we’ll let the public know how to access everything that’s going on in each cabinet. Secondly, they’ll have to report back to us, and then we can evaluate the return on our investment, what activities goin’ on across the state, and especially how effective we are.”
Clark’s bill would also make public the number of jobs created and wages paid by the project.
The New York Times has reported that over a billion dollars in incentives has been handed out in Kentucky. Currently, the state does not have an official mechanism to account for that.
Nearly $600 million of that annual sum goes toward “energy development” and the coal industry.
Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, follows testimony by Col. Wayne Turner, Bellevue Chief of Police, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee, and later the full Senate, passed a bill sponsored by Stine to combat Kentucky's growing heroin addiction problem.
A bill aimed at combating Kentucky’s rising heroin abuse problem is on to the House after gaining unanimous support in the state Senate. Republican Katie Stine’s measure was passed Thursday on a 36-0 vote, and seeks to distinguish between those who are selling the drug, and those who have become addicted.
“The bill targets two different groups: the trafficker who needs to be run out of Kentucky or locked up, and the addict, who has broken the law, but who has created their own personal prison of addiction that is far worse than any jail the state could design, and who frankly needs treatment,” said the Campbell County lawmaker.
Stine’s bill creates tougher punishments for dealers, making them serve more of their prison sentences before becoming eligible for parole. The legislation also requires the Kentucky Medicaid program to pay for substance-abuse treatment.
According to Stine, the increasing heroin problem is having a major impact on courts and emergency rooms in parts of the commonwealth, especially in the northern part of the state.
A high-ranking Kentucky lawmaker believes there’s enough public support to pass a constitutional amendment to expand gambling in the state.
But House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark also admits that getting the necessary votes in the legislature remains an uphill fight.
The Louisville Democrat testified before the House Licensing and Occupations committee Wednesday about a pair of measures on the issue, including his bill that would ask voters whether casinos should be allowed.
“The Senate also has a constitutional amendment on this subject, and the Governor is engaged as well," Clark said. "I think we’re in a good position this year to make progress.”
A Senate bill sponsored by Louisville Republican Dan Seum would allow up to seven casinos in the state and set aside 10 percent of revenues to benefit Kentucky’s horse industry.
A Kentucky House committee has rejected a measure that would change the way primary elections are held in the state.
Danville Republican Representative Mike Harmon’s bill would have allowed gubernatorial candidates to wait until after the primary before choosing the person who would run on their ticket as Lieutenant Governor.
The bill failed to make it out of the House Elections Committee. Two Democrats who withheld support for the measure say they did so because it didn’t include public financing for gubernatorial elections.
A bill to would restore voting rights for non-violent felons has passed a Kentucky House committee.
The measure is Rep. Jesse Crenshaw's latest attempt to put approximately 130,000 felons back on the voting rolls.
Similar efforts have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Crenshaw, a Lexington Democrat, says he hopes that his bill will fare better this year due to support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
“I hope that he would, in fact, speak with those in the Senate and urge them to call it for a vote, in committee and on the floor. I hope that he would do that."
A spokesman for Sen. Paul says he plans to urge Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass the legislation, and will testify before an upcoming Senate committee on the issue.
Currently, felons must seek a restoration of Civil Rights from the governor to regain the right to vote. Beshear has granted nearly 8,000 restorations since taking office.
If passed, Crenshaw’s legislation would put the issue to voters on the November ballot.
A prominent Republican has stepped forward to promote a long-debated proposal that seeks to amend Kentucky's Constitution to restore voting rights for some felons.
House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said Tuesday "it's a matter of fairness" to restore the voting rights of some felons of who have served their sentences and met conditions of probation.
The proposal championed by Democratic state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw easily cleared a House committee on Tuesday. Previous versions have passed the Democratic-led House but died in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Crenshaw says he has his "fingers crossed" that the Senate will approve the legislation.
The proposal would exclude people convicted of intentional murder, rape, sodomy or sex offenses with a minor from having their voting rights automatically restored.
Six of Kentucky’s eight members of Congress are millionaires, and an analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year also shows a Kentucky U.S. Senator and Congressman rank in the top 50 of most wealthy lawmakers.
Kentucky is far from alone when it comes to states with wealthy members of Congress. In fact, more than half of the U.S. Congressmen and Senators made the latest list of millionaires, the first time that has ever happened.
The analysis by the nonprofit Center of Responsive Politics shows that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Yarmuth are the wealthiest lawmakers in Kentucky. Records show McConnell has a net worth of $22.8 million; Yarmuth has $21.2 million.
Nationwide, McConnell ranks as the 37th wealthiest member of Congress, with Yarmuth 41st.
Congressmen Brett Guthrie, Ed Whitfield, Hal Rogers, and Thomas Massie also made the list of millionaires. That leaves Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Andy Barr as the only members of Kentucky’s delegation not on the list.
Kentucky’s highest ranking Republican lawmaker says he has identified areas of the budget he would like to cut, but he isn’t going to share them just yet.
Senate President Robert Stivers says he has some cuts in mind, but he hasn't discussed them with Gov. Steve Beshear or House Speaker Greg Stumbo. He and Stumbo have also downplayed the issue of structural imbalances in the state budget, which cause recurring shortfalls of millions of dollars.
“You can get into some more esoteric-type things where programs don’t get ramped up as fast, vacancy credits, things of that nature, personnel don’t get brought on as fast. And so there’s monies always captured in those areas," Stivers said. "And we are talking about substantial individuals, or substantial debt services, comes in to some pretty decent money sometimes.”
Stivers says that he will wait and see what Gov. Beshear will suggest next week before he discusses what programs he is willing to cut.
The State Office of the Budget Director has projected an estimated $3.6 billion spending gap between budget requests and the state’s general fund.