This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin’s special legislative session on pensions is finally taking place and Democrats think he’s tied the legislature’s hands. Bevin and Democratic rival Andy Beshear clashed during a debate at the Kentucky Farm Bureau. And Kentucky lawmakers responded to President Trump’s inflammatory tweets. Jean West from member station WFPL talked to Ryland Barton for this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

Health officials are urging caution the potentially dangerous combination of high heat and high humidity is expected to continue in the commonwealth through Sunday.

Dr. Robert Humphries is the chairperson of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Kentucky. He says people with chronic illnesses need to be especially careful but everyone should be aware of the potential health consequences.

State lawmakers return to Frankfort on Friday for a special legislative session to deal with surging pension costs currently being experienced by regional universities and “quasi” state agencies like local health departments.

Gov. Matt Bevin issued the official proclamation for the session on Thursday afternoon, summoning lawmakers to Frankfort and laying out what he hopes will pass into law.

The proclamation is narrowly tailored so that lawmakers will likely only be able to consider a proposal that Bevin has hammered out with Republican leaders of the legislature.

Becca Schimmel

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the current $7.25 rate, which has not changed in a decade. The bill is unlikely to clear the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he will not take it up.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of man’s first trip to the moon.  The Apollo 11 mission included astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping out on the moon’s surface.  Much has been made of the recovery of moon rocks.

A Moment in Kentucky History: Daniel Boone

Jul 19, 2019
Kentucky Humanities /

Think History is our daily segment from Kentucky Humanities. Today, Bill Goodman tells us about Daniel Boone, America's favorite frontiersman.

Listen to Think History weekdays at 8:19 a.m. and 5:18 p.m. on WEKU-FM and the WEKU Mobile App. 

Homeless Faces Additional Stress During Heat Wave

Jul 18, 2019

The forecast for excessive heat this weekend brings with it significant health risks to those who are outdoors.  The heat can be of particular concern for area homeless.

Lexington is opening up cooling stations around town as a way to get people living outside, inside to provide an opportunity to cool down.  Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention Director Polly Ruddick said LexTran is offering free rides over the weekend and buses will make stops at cooling sites. 

  Habitat for Humanity has joined a national advocacy campaign aimed at improving home affordability over the next five years. The 'Cost of Home' campaign has identified four key issues; access to credit, land use, communities of opportunity and supply and preservation of affordable homes. Kentucky Habitat for Humanity joined the effort in June. Executive Director Mary Shearer says there are not enough affordable housing units in Central and Eastern Kentucky and those homes that do exist are disappearing.

J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL

  Gov. Matt Bevin is again the most unpopular governor in America and is getting less popular according to a new poll.

Bevin was first elected in 2015 and is seeking reelection this year, trying to become the first Republican governor in state history to serve two terms.

According to the new poll by Morning Consult, Bevin has a 56 percent disapproval rating and 32 percent approval rating.

Eastern Standard for July 18, 2019

Jul 18, 2019

A Richmond Police Detective reflects on the dark side of his job. A visit with members of What's Next EKY, a grass roots organization looking to reshape the region's future. And, the booming economy hasn't helped everybody. Habitat for Humanity has a nationwide campaign to make housing affordable. Learn what's being done here in Kentucky.

Heat Wave Brings With It Health Issues

Jul 18, 2019

Temperatures are forecast to reach into the mid-90’s this weekend and bring with them health risks.  Stanford Physician Jay Miller said it’s important to check on the elderly.  He added they can become confused and feel a cool sensation when afflicted with a heat-related ailment.

Miller said it’s important to check for heat-producing items in the home. “Our pilot light on our stove was still burning from our wintertime, our heating stove.  I just turned that off like two weeks ago, but little things like that put out a lot of heat,” said Miller.

The heatwave is expected to affect all sections of the Commonwealth as well as states well north of Kentucky.  Miller said humidity can work against the body’s ability to cool itself.  “You may feel you’re sweating more, but it sticks around longer.  But, in the dry heat, it just leaves you quickly and that cools you.  So, the humid area you just don’t have a natural cooling method of your body as much as if it’s a real dry heat,” explained Miller.

A Moment in Kentucky History: William Kelly

Jul 18, 2019
Kentucky Humanities /

Think History is our daily segment from Kentucky Humanities. Today, Bill Goodman tells us about William Kelly, an inventor who gained a patent to make steel less expensive. 

Listen to Think History weekdays at 8:19 a.m. and 5:18 p.m. and on the WEKU Mobile App.

Kentucky state agriculture officials are working to get the word out  about new tagging requirements for cattle.  The official change is a few years off, but some steps can be taken as soon as the end of this year.

Study: Kentucky’s Heat Index On The Rise

Jul 17, 2019

  The number of sweltering summer days will only increase as climate change takes its toll on Kentucky, according to a study released Tuesday.

To understand just what the mercury rising might feel like, researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed a century’s worth of data for temperatures and humidity to create a heat index, or, the “feels like” temperature often described in weather forecasts.

Stu Johnson

The Governor’s School for the Arts just wrapped up its 33rd year of holding an intensive three-week summer program.  For the first time since 1987, the GSA was held at the University of Kentucky.

Just after lunch on the last day before the final weekend performances, a group of budding singers warmed up with vocal exercises.

This year, the Governor’s School for the Arts included 256 rising high school juniors and seniors.  There were 1,400 applicants.  GSA Director Nick Covault said some participants go on to professional careers, but it’s not the goal of all.

Kentucky Humanities /

Think History is our daily segment from Kentucky Humanities. Today, Bill Goodman tells us about the architecture of Frankfort's Capital building.

Listen to Think History weekdays at 8:19 a.m. and 5:18 p.m. on WEKU-FM and on the WEKU Mobile App.

It appears Kentucky will dodge significant impact from the remnants of Hurricane Barry.  Most of the tropical storm’s heavy rains fell in the Deep South with some sizeable bands west of the Commonwealth.

But, Lexington Emergency Management Spokesman John Bobel said Barry could still mean an uptick in pop-up showers.  And Bobel said those rain events can mean inches of precipitation over a short period of time.  So, he says check out your property when it’s not raining.

Carbon 2019 Attracts A Global Crowd Of Scientists

Jul 16, 2019

Downtown Lexington is playing host this week to engineers and scientists specializing in carbon materials.  That includes representatives from a central Kentucky aircraft braking company.

Eastern Kentucky University and Christine Carucci

Nicola Mason and Christine Carucci recently received an American Orff-Schulwerk Association Research Grant to collect data on how music is used as a teaching tool in elementary schools. This fall, they will send surveys to all of Kentucky's K-5 teachers. That is just the beginning of their research, the end goal is to create new professional development courses to help general education teachers incorporate music into their classrooms. Mason talked with WEKU's Samantha Morrill.

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Aaron Thompson is hoping state lawmakers will hold the line on public university pension costs

Gov, Matt Bevin has called for a special legislative session to start th

American Medical Association

Dr. Patrice Harris took the oath in June to become the first African-American woman to serve as president of the powerful American Medical Association, the largest professional association for physicians in the United States.

Harris also brings another unique perspective to the task as someone who grew up in rural Appalachia.

"I was born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia, in the heart of coal country," Harris said. "My father worked on the railroad. My mother taught school. So I have a unique and personal connection and understanding of the region."

She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, a master's degree in counseling psychology and medical degree from West Virginia University. Though she has long practiced psychiatry in Atlanta, Georgia, she keeps her connection to the region with regular home visits and by serving on the WVU Foundation board.

Kentucky Humanities /

Think History is our daily segment from Kentucky Humanities. Today, Bill Goodman tells us about Samuel Emory and Jane Cook Davis. 

Listen to Think History weekdays at 8:19 a.m. and 5:18 p.m. on WEKU-FM and on the WEKU Mobile App. 

State Inmates Filling Up Kentucky Prisons

Jul 15, 2019

Kentucky Corrections officials continue to face a housing crunch when it comes to the state’s inmate population.

State Justice Secretary John Tilley said unfortunately an inmate housing prediction has become reality. “Well this time last year, maybe even before, we predicted May of this year 2019 would be a time when we are officially out of space.  And we are officially out of space,” said Tilley.

Jeff Young/Ohio Valley ReSource

Declining coal tax revenues place coal-reliant counties in Appalachia at risk of fiscal collapse, according to new research from the centrist Brookings Institution and Columbia University. Policies designed to prevent further climate change would accelerate that decline, the report found, but could also provide a new stream of revenue to help communities rebound from coal’s demise.

The report published by Brookings and the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia quantified how much of a coal-producing county’s budget came from coal, via severance taxes, property taxes, and contracts such as royalties and lease bonuses. Then authors analyzed what it might mean for those county governments if the U.S. instituted a modest price on carbon emissions. The report found that under such a policy, counties that are reliant on coal would be at risk of defaulting on bonds, failing to provide basic services such as waste removal or infrastructure maintenance, and even bankruptcy.

Eastern Standard Preview

Jul 15, 2019

This group's name is a question for the ages: "What's Next EKY"?

Details of their recent survey looking for ideas and concerns in the region.  We hear from two on the frontlines of coping with a rising level of domestic violence in Madison County: Richmond Detective Stuart Adams and Jennifer Lainhart, director of Hope's Wings Domestic Violence Shelter.

And, the economy is booming for some, yet so many in Kentucky find affordable home ownership out of the question. Why? Our question for Mary Shearer, director of Kentucky Habitat for Humanity and Rachel Childress, director of Habitat's Lexington affiliate. 

Contact: Tom Martin at or leave voicemail at 859-622-9358

Fayette County’s historic courthouse continues to evolve. From serving justice to a museum to hosting retail shops the courthouse has served many purposes over many years.  The last judicial use came in 2002 while full retail offerings didn’t come until 2018.

A Moment in Kentucky History: Isaac Shelby

Jul 15, 2019
Kentucky Humanities /

Think History is our daily segment from Kentucky Humanities. Today, Bill Goodman tells us about Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's first governor. 

Listen to Think History weekdays at 8:19 a.m. and 5:19 p.m. on WEKU-FM and on the WEKU Mobile App. 

Teams of nurses in Kentucky are providing the hepatitis A vaccine to jails, homeless shelters, and treatment centers in an effort to reach the people most at risk of becoming infected with the disease.

According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, the teams have provided about 2,100 doses of the vaccine since April.

American Society of Microbiology

The measles outbreak continues across the country with Ohio becoming the latest state with a confirmed case of the disease.

Ohio State Epidemiologist Sietske de Fijter said Friday that a new case has been confirmed in Stark County. People who are unvaccinated are at risk, she says.

Measles is extremely contagious said de Fijter. “Over 90 percent of individuals who are unprotected are unvaccinated, and who get exposed to the measles virus will come down with the disease.”

She said vaccination is the best form of prevention.

Stu Johnson

Gov. Matt Bevin was in Lexington Friday to announce a legislative proposal to prohibit sanctuary cities in Kentucky.

Bevin said the measure is proactive as no local municipalities are currently claiming sanctuary city status.

“But we also don’t want a slippery slope," he said.  The proposed legislation is "just to clarify and get out in front of it."