Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will likely leave office next year without making good on one of his campaign pledges.
Legislative leaders say casino gambling is hardly on anyone’s radar for the 2015 session. Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio support appears to be waning even among proponents.
"You've got your tracks that only want it at the tracks. Some will go further than that, others won't, so they can't agree with each other, much less than anybody else. It's one of those issues that while a lot of people say they want it, they only want it on their terms."
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer sponsored a measure in 2012 to get a casino amendment on the ballot. The Georgetown Republican maintains he won't try again.
"I will not be sponsoring another expanded casino gambling bill as long as I'm in the state Senate," states Thayer. "I sponsored that bill a few years ago and said I would take one shot at it, and I have no plans to sponsor another bill like that in the future."
Tobacco and e-cigarettes will soon be banned from many Kentucky state properties under the executive cabinet. The new policy announced by Governor Beshear Thursday covers state buildings, vehicles and other designated locations.
The announcement adds onto previous legislation aimed solely at cigarettes. Beshear said his executive order aims to combat Kentucky’s number one ranking in cancer and smoking deaths.
“You know, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report alerting Americans to the deadly consequences of smoking. That’s five decades. Five decades of warnings," Beshear said.
"But warnings by themselves, as we know, are not enough.”
Governor Beshear has appointed former state lawmaker Roger Thomas of Warren County to be director of his office's legislative services.
Beshear said Thomas has experience and knowledge of the legislative process that's "second to none." He said Thomas' understanding of the General Assembly will be vital to achieve a successful legislative session next year.
Beshear's office says Thomas will retain his position as Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy. In that role, Thomas serves as CEO of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Executive Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation.
Thomas was the state representative for Warren County's 21st District from 1996 to 2004.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an order to cover a $91 deficit in the state's $9.5 billion state budget.
State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order cuts $3 million in state spending. He made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent.
Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects.
This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.
Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday announced $1.3 million in grants for an initiative to create jobs in the depressed coal regions of Eastern Kentucky.
The state plans to use $1 million to fund 52 full-time AmeriCorp positions to shore up "youth engagement, education success and health and human services over the next year," according to a news release from the governor's office. About $312,000 "will support implementation and technical assistance by a consortium of nine Area Development Districts located in the region."
Beyond that, it's unclear how the money will be administered by the 12-member executive committee of the SOAR, or Shaping Our Appalachian Region, initiative.
Beshear, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents Eastern Kentucky, unveiled SOAR in December in an attempt to gather ideas for revitalizing the economically devastated coal communities in Eastern Kentucky.
Congressional inaction threatening the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund may cost Kentucky $185 million for projects, drastically changing how the state pays for road construction, Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday.
Beshear and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who was visiting the state, criticized Congress for inaction that will reduce the amount the highway trust fund reimburses states for roadwork by 28 percent, affecting upwards of 700,000 jobs nationwide.
"Simply put, if you drive on Kentucky's highways, or if your business depends upon our roads to move your workers, your goods, your supplies or your customers, you will see a negative impact," Beshear said.
Of the $185 million in jeopardy, $150 million will affect the widening of I-65 between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown, a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman said. The remaining $35 million is slated for "pavement rehabilitation" projects across the state.
Neither Beshear nor KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock offered a figure of how many road contracting jobs in Kentucky could be affected if Congress doesn't shore up the fund.
Gov. Steve Beshear joined local and company officials Wednesday in announcing that Gibbs Die Casting is expanding operations at its world headquarters in Henderson, adding 160 jobs and investing more than $22.8 million.
Gibbs Die Casting, established in 1965 and owned by Koch Enterprises, has grown into one of the world’s largest die casting companies, operating eight factories for aluminum and magnesium casting, machining, assembly and die building with facilities in Hungary, Brazil and China. The Henderson facility currently employs more than 560 people.
The expansion project includes adding new manufacturing lines for eight-speed transmission parts and rear axles for the automotive industry.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is encouraging Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session for redistricting to help end a federal lawsuit.
Last week several county clerks in Northern Kentucky filed a lawsuit claiming the state's inability to finish redistricting violates federal law.
In response, Stumbo released a letter he has sent to the governor, encouraging Beshear to call a special session soon to pass redistricting maps.
Stumbo says it's pointless to waste money on litigation when House lawmakers have already passed a new redistricting plan. Senate leaders have said they wanted to wait until the 2014 session to pass the maps.
Beshear says he's open to a special session on redistricting, but wants to make sure all parties are ready so costs can be minimized. It costs taxpayers $60,000 a day for a special session.
Even though they managed to pass pension and tax reforms in this year's regular legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers haven't necessarily dodged a special session.
A few big issues remain for lawmakers, mainly the redrawing of legislative districts and further tax reform.
Governor Steve Beshear has continued to discuss the need for more tax reform, largely to pay for education. And he says he's not ruling out calling a special session sometime this year.
"I'm going to have continuing conversations through the summer with House and Senate leadership on that too. We're just taking it one step at a time and see where we go,” the Governor said.
Beshear is also considering whether redistricting should be tackled in a special session. Legally, lawmakers have until next year, but Beshear says he wants candidates to know their districts well before campaigning begins.
Governor Steve Beshear has signed bills allowing alcohol sales on election day, reforming the state's pension system and finding revenue to pay for the reforms
The governor signed the bills Thursday, two days before his deadline to do so.
The pension bills would raise almost $100 million in revenue to pay for the underfunded pension systems. The reforms also put new hires into a 401k-style pension plan.
Opponents of the pension bills say they will hurt state workers by giving them weaker retirement plans and they question whether the bills raise enough money to fund the systems.
Beshear has still not acted on a bill that prepares Kentucky to grow industrial hemp, if it's legalized on the federal level. If he doesn't sign or veto it by Saturday, it will become law automatically.