Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio

Statehouse Bureau Chief - Frankfort

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004.

His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states.

McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta.

In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011.

His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states.

McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.

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Lawmakers are promising legislation addressing issues raised in a state audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.  The 118-page audit made 92 recommendations for strengthening Board of Trustees’ oversight and governance of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.  The board manages investments of nearly $13 billion for 300,000 active and retired state workers.  State Auditor Crit Luallen says the audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, which she defined for House and Senate State Government Committee members.

State Auditor Crit Luallen says she found no evidence of wrongdoing in an audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. But Luallen says the audit does raise several areas of concern.  The audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, who act as middlemen to secure investments from entities like KRS.  Placement agents have been at the center of "pay-to-play" scandals in other states, but Luallen says that does not appear to be the case in Kentucky.

Instant Racing is another step closer to leaving the gate at Kentucky horse tracks. But opponents of the new form of gambling still hope to block it.  Instant Racing, which involves electronic gambling on previously-run horse races, has never won legislative approval in Kentucky. But last month, a legislative oversight panel refused to block regulations allowing it.

The legal hunting of sandhill cranes in Kentucky has moved another step closer to becoming a reality, but final approval is still pending.  Earlier this month, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a sandhill crane hunting season in Kentucky. The season, with a mid-December start, would last for 30 days, or until 400 of the huge, migratory birds have been killed, whichever comes first.

Pikeville College President Paul Patton served two terms as Kentucky's governor, but his first-term accomplishments likely will be his legacy.  And the reason is higher education reform.  In 1997, two years into his first term, Patton convinced lawmakers to approve a comprehensive package of post-secondary education reforms. The most controversial prong required the University of Kentucky to relinquish control of the state's community and technical colleges.

More Kentucky firefighters are headed south, this time to help battle wildfires in southeast Georgia.  Kentucky already has a crew in Florida.  Several fires are consuming large tracts of timberland and threatening homes in and around the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross, Georgia.  Fire crews are stretched thin, so Kentucky is sending some help.

With the fall election 20 weeks away, the two major gubernatorial slates in Kentucky are beating the bushes for campaign dollars.  So far, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramson, are out-raising Republican Senate President David Williams and his running mate Richie Farmer, but both campaigns are loading up for the fall campaign.

Kentucky public colleges and universities are already compiling their capital project wish lists.   They're getting ready for next year's legislative session.  A $33 million Engineering-Physics building tops the projects list at Murray State University, but President Randy Dunn says the school also badly needs a new $62 million library.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is selling surplus state property again. This time it's a vacant lot in Frankfort. Since taking office in 2007, Gov. Beshear says his administration has generated nearly $7.5 million through surplus real estate sales. Included in that figure is nearly $79,000 Beshear says the state got for a vacant, two-acre industrial lot in Frankfort.

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The Chronicle of Higher Education has been studying the education levels of state lawmakers in the United States.  The state with the most college-educated lawmakers is California, with 90 percent.  New Hampshire, with 53 percent, has the least.   The national average is around 75 percent, slightly lower than Kentucky’s 77 percent

Three major hospitals are joining forces to provide a statewide healthcare delivery system for Kentuckians. The partnership involves University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital in Louisville and Saint Joseph Health System in Lexington. They’re still working on a name for the joint effort, but James Taylor of U-of-L Hospital says the partnership means better healthcare for Kentuckians.

New statewide, end-of-course, assessment exams begin this coming school year for Kentucky high school students.   The tests were authorized in education reforms approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2009.  The statewide tests measure student achievement in graduation-required courses of English, Algebra, Biology and U.S. History. 

Complaints about for-profit colleges in Kentucky continue to raise eyebrows in Frankfort.   But, the schools also have many legislative defenders. Currently there are 141 for-profit colleges in Kentucky, which are seeing significant growth.  National enrollment in proprietary colleges is nearing two million students, compared to a half-million in 1998.  The schools cater mostly to students seeking employment skills.

It’s been another stellar month for state revenue receipts in Kentucky.  And Gov. Steve Beshear says that means no furloughs for state workers next fiscal year.  General Fund receipts in May were $750 million, a whopping 18 percent increase over May 2010 receipts.

Statewide Medicaid managed care is coming to Kentucky, but maybe not as fast as some lawmakers thought. Gov. Steve Beshear says the state can save millions of dollars by letting private health care organizations manage services for the state's 820,000 Medicaid recipients. Acting Medicaid Commissioner Neville Wise says proposals from interested organizations are under evaluation.

Deputy Chief Justice Mary Noble of Lexington has become the first woman to preside over oral arguments in the Kentucky Supreme Court.  The issue before the Supreme Court was ineffective assistance of counsel in a criminal case. It's a fairly routine issue of appeal, but the proceedings were unique because, for the first time, a woman was sitting in the chief justice's chair.

Kentucky lawmakers want to know more about aviation needs, including aircraft owned and operated by the state.  The Department of Aviation has 35 employees and an annual budget of around $10 million. The department oversees three fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter. Two other planes under the department's control were sold at auction last month.

The results of Kentucky’s May 17th primary election have been officially certified.  It took the State Board of Elections less than an hour to go over the numbers and certify the primary vote tallies.  Secretary of State Elaine Walker says the only exception to the election night vote count was addressed in a recanvass conducted two weeks ago. 

The newly renovated Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort reopened over the weekend.  The Hall of Governors is literally a wide hallway in the west wing of the history center. It's lined with the portraits of dozens of Kentucky governors. In years past, visitors often breezed through the room, because there was no historical or biographical information accompanying the paintings. That's no longer the case, says Scott Alvey, who's overseeing the hall's redevelopment.

FRANKFORT, KY  - Over the objections of a bevy of birdwatchers, a sandhill crane hunting season may soon become a reality in Kentucky.   Sandhill cranes are large, migratory birds that were almost completely wiped out in the early 1900's, but rebounded with federal protection. The population east of the Mississippi River now numbers around 60,000 and many of the birds winter in Kentucky.

Power rates will rise.  That’s the bottom line of testimony in Frankfort on the costs of meeting new federal environmental standards for coal-fired utilities in Kentucky.  Representatives of several coal-fired utilities in Kentucky say meeting federal clean air standards already in the pipeline will require investments of billions of dollars.  John Voyles of LG&E and KU says their capital costs could rise by four billion dollars over the next ten years

Six Kentucky counties have been chosen at random for mandatory, post-primary election audits. Attorney General Jack Conway conducted the drawing, and the counties chosen at random to be audited are Wolfe, Boyd, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Estill and Clark. Pendleton County was drawn before Clark, but disqualified, because it was audited in the previous election. Conway says investigators will now be dispatched to the six counties drawn.

The Kentucky Arts Council wants to help local communities showcase and market cultural amenities like museums, theatres, historic sites, and even farmers’ markets and festivals. Along those lines, the council is overseeing a statewide cultural district certification program announced by Governor Steve Beshear. Beshear says the designated districts will get focused training, as well as “assistance in planning, marketing, programming, identification of grant and incentive opportunities, developing art education components and developing and implementing signature events and activities.”

Praise is pouring in for former Kentucky Rep. Eddie Ballard of Madisonville, who died Tuesday at age 81.   The Hopkins County Democrat, who retired from the legislature last year, had served in the  Kentucky House since 1987.  He was chairman of the Tourism, Development and Energy Committee and vice-chair of the State Government committee. 

Gov. Steve Beshear's campaign says the list of Republicans backing the Kentucky Democrat's re-election bid this fall is growing.  But the man Beshear faces this fall says there are many reasons why some Republicans would be donating to a sitting governor's re-election campaign. On the day before Kentucky Republicans held their post-primary unity rally at GOP headquarters in Frankfort, Gov. Beshear's campaign released the names of 70 Republicans backing his re-election bid. Among the names was former lieutenant governor Steve Pence.

Bill Johnson of Elkton has again prevailed in the Republican primary for Kentucky Secretary of State.  On election night, Johnson defeated Hilda Legg of Somerset by just over 1,100 votes, but Legg sought a recheck of voting machine tallies.  The recanvass shows Johnson picking up five votes, and Legg gaining 11.

A Frankfort judge, in a price gouging case against Marathon Petroleum, has refused to force the oil company to roll back gas prices in Kentucky.   The ruling comes in a case originally filed several years ago, in which the oil company was accused of price gouging following disasters.

The 2010 Kentucky State Police Trooper of the Year is a veteran of Post 1 in Mayfield, in far western Kentucky.   Senior Trooper Thomas Williams was honored along with a host of other state troopers in an awards ceremony in Frankfort.

Kentucky Republicans held a post-primary rally at state GOP headquarters in Frankfort Saturday to show a united front for the fall.  But despite claims of party unity, it appears the Republicans may have a few chinks in their armor.

In the wake of Tuesday’s primary election, Kentucky Republicans, including Senate President David Williams, will hold a unity rally Saturday at state GOP headquarters in Frankfort.  But the man Williams faces in the fall is already trying to spoil the party.