Kentucky Legislature

Fayette Schools Chief Came to Frankfort Friday

Apr 16, 2018
Stu Johnson

A trip to Memphis as the country reflected on the 50 years since the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King influenced Fayette Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk’s participation in teacher protests in Frankfort. 

Teachers Plan to Protest Again in Frankfort Friday

Apr 12, 2018

Teachers from across Kentucky are expected to converge on the state capitol again Friday/today as lawmakers return for the final days of the legislative session. Teachers are protesting pension cuts and encouraging lawmakers to override Gov. Bevin’s veto of the state budget. 

The statewide teachers union has called for lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the two-year state budget and revenue bills, which set aside more funding for public education than Bevin’s proposed budget did. 

Major Issues Still Pending As End Of Legislative Session Looms

Mar 28, 2018
Stu Johnson

As this year’s legislative session winds down, Kentucky lawmakers still have to make hard decisions on how the state will spend and make money over the next two years.


Republicans are solely in charge of writing the $22 billion two-year budget for the first time in state history, but leaders of the state House and Senate still disagree on the thorniest spending issues.

The House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee has approved legislation aimed at addressing any uncertainty regarding raffles at the National Corvette Museum. 

Committee Chair Adam Koenig says the measure pertains to certain non-profit organizations. “This bill largely just codifies it in a way that we make sure that it’s being done in a way that conforms with charitable gaming laws and the IRS,” noted Koenig.

Stu Johnson

Lexington’s city council is asking the general assembly to pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky.

The council acted unanimously Tuesday to send the request to legislative leaders.  Council Member Jake Gibbs says the Lexington governing body heard from six people who say medical marijuana had helped them. “Dealing with things from gunshot wounds to post traumatic distress disorder to car crashes.  Another guy had a tick bite which he’s taken 32 medicines for,” said Gibbs.

Officials within Kentucky’s Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities expect to play a continual role in tackling the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic. 

Commissioner Wendy Morris offered testimony last week before the House Budget Subcommittee on Health and Family Services. “We want to continue to build an array of evidence based practices that address prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery,” said Morris. 

Stu Johnson

The first legislative step to substantial changes in Kentucky’s adoption and foster care programs took place Thursday in Frankfort. Unanimous approval came from the House Health and Family Services Committee.

Under a new Republican proposal to overhaul Kentucky’s pensionsystems, most state workers hired since 2014 would no longer get a guaranteed return on their retirement investments in the event of a

Senate Resolution on Pornography Introduced

Feb 19, 2018
Stu Johnson

A Kentucky senator has introduced a resolution recognizing pornography as a “public health crisis.”  The resolution wording, brought by Greensburg Senator David Givens, also acknowledges the need for education on the harmful effects of pornography. 

Mental Health Advocates Rally at Kentucky Capitol

Feb 15, 2018
Stu Johnson

Advocates for mentally ill in Kentucky are lobbying to make those with serious mental illness ineligible for the death penalty.  Kentucky representatives for the National Alliance on Mental Illness staged a rally Thursday in Frankfort. 

New Pension Bill Expected to Be Dropped This Week

Feb 14, 2018
Stu Johnson

Republican leaders of the state legislature say a new proposal to overhaul the state’s public retirement systems will be unveiled later this week.

Another weekly news conference on a proposed dollar increase in the state’s cigarette tax was held Thursday at the state capitol.  The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has been sponsoring a series of events, designed to raise awareness about the tax proposal.  Speakers this week talked about the high percentage of people with mental illness who smoke.  

Ramona Johnson is CEO of Bridgehaven Mental Health Services in Louisville. “Helping them to break that addiction and stop smoking then gives them some disposable income that they’ve not had before,” said Johnson.

A Kentucky House panel has reviewed state tax credits tied to private investments for businesses in the Commonwealth. A leading state economic official also spoke of future business growth   in eastern Kentucky.

The agenda item pointed to discussion about the so called “angel” investor program, and modifications found in legislation filed this session. 

House Panel Passes Gang Recruitment Measure

Feb 8, 2018
Stu Johnson

Legislation focusing on slowing gang recruitment across Kentucky got widespread support in a House committee Wednesday.  It calls for tougher penalties and longer sentences for those convicted of crimes tied to gangs.

Lexington Representative Robert Benvenuti calls gang-related activities the “most critical public protection issue facing the state today.”  Todd Phillips works in Lexington’s police gang unit. “It allows us to have the opportunity to have something with more teeth when we go after those gang members that are the most serious and most involved,” said Phillips

Stu Johnson

Kentuckians with mental and physical disabilities filled the halls of the state capital and annex Wednesday.  They were in Frankfort to lobby lawmakers for social service funding.

Stu Johnson

Gov. Matt Bevin covered lots of ground in last night’s State of the Commonwealth and Budget address. That included a glimpse into the future funding of corrections and higher education.

Bevin Vetoes 7 More Bills, Including Parts Of State Budget

Apr 28, 2016

Gov. Matt Bevin has issued seven more vetoes, delaying a free community college scholarship program, cutting out parts of the state budget and killing a new driver’s license bill.

Bevin has now vetoed all or part of 14 bills in the wake of his first legislative session as governor.

“Today’s action will create economic opportunity and provide benefits to generations for years to come,” Bevin said in a statement.

Natural Hair Braiders' Bill Goes to Governor Bevin

Mar 29, 2016


Legislation that aims to help natural hair braiders in Kentucky has won the support of both Houses of the state General Assembly. The legislature Monday easily approved a measure that would exempt hair braiders from cosmetology regulations.

State Funding for Ky. Vet Students Faces Likely Debate

Mar 21, 2016

The status of a portion of state funding for Kentucky students accepted into Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine is in limbo.  The commonwealth is under agreement with the Alabama school to allow Kentucky students accepted into the veterinary program to pay in-state tuition, with Kentucky picking up the difference. 

Governor Bevin’s budget includes money to assist with tuition costs for 22 incoming students, leaving 16 openings unfunded. However, the House approved budget restored funding for the remaining spots.


Prescribed or controlled burning could be expanded across Kentucky under a bill making its way through the state general assembly. Proponents say the process carries an ecological impact.

Kentucky firefighters are seeking legislative approval to include certain cancers as cause for issuing death benefits to surviving family members.  The measure, which allows for an $80,000 death benefit from the state, passed out of a Senate committee last week.

Legislation to prohibit localities from banning certain dog breeds is under review in the Kentucky Senate.  The measure got the backing of the Senate Agriculture Committee last week. Lee Greenwood with Best Friends Animal Society says it’s a property rights issue.  “The science is pretty clear, as we said, there really is no connection between breed and a dog’s propensity for acting in one way or another,” said Greenwood.

Greenwood says any type of dog can be dangerous and communities should make laws that focus on the behavior of every dog, not one particular breed.

A revision in Kentucky law related to the disposal of mustard and nerve agent munitions at the Blue Grass Army Depot is being sought in Frankfort.  Members of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee unanimously approved the reclassification of secondary waste Wednesday. 

Tanning Bed Bill Moves to House Floor

Jan 28, 2016

Minors would be prohibited from using tanning beds in Kentucky under a bill heading to the House floor.  The measure passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday.   Testifying in support of the bill was Deputy Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Connie White.  “We used to never see melanoma in someone before they were 50 because it took you 50 years of ultra violet exposure before this happened,” White said.  “And as tanning beds have increased in use, that’s when we starting seeing that spike.”

State Senate Committee Approves Medical Review Panel Bill

Jan 27, 2016

Legislation requiring medical review panels for all cases of doctor negligence in Kentucky is again headed to the full senate.  The measure passed out of the Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday.  Sponsor Ralph Alvarado says three doctors would form a review panel to make a non-binding determination. “I know from my training, I know how physicians are," Alvarado said.  "We are brutally honest.  I’ve reviewed cases of nursing homes where they didn’t do anything wrong, but the doctor did and I exposed that information.” 

University Presidents React to Governor Bevin’s Budget Plan

Jan 27, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


Governor Matt Bevin’s budget speech Tuesday night contained some sobering news for those in the higher education community.

Governor Bevin’s first budget plan calls for cuts to state cabinets and higher ed by 9% each over the next two years.  The proposal caught Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson a bit off guard.  “Well I think we’re all kind of stunned," Benson said. "We had heard a cut was coming, but nothing to the magnitude of what we heard tonight."

Taxing Coal in Kentucky

Jan 25, 2016

Two bills before the Kentucky House of Representatives would change the way the state taxes coal that’s left in the ground.  They would give exemptions to mineral rights owners if the coal isn’t going to be mined soon.

This “unmined minerals tax” adds up to a substantial amount: in 2014, Kentucky collected more than $39 million. Most of that—$34 million—went to the individual counties where the minerals are. The remainder went to the state.

State Senate GOP Leaders to Release Priority Bills Wednesday

Jan 5, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session is underway in Frankfort.  Senate majority leaders say they will unveil their legislative agenda Wednesday.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says priority bills are likely to focus on issues such as right to work, medical review of malpractice claims, repealing prevailing wage, and religious freedom.  "It’s going to look very similar to the priority list that we’ve passed the last several years and very similar to the campaign platform that Governor Bevin ran on last fall,” said Thayer.

Funding for the state's pension system, charter schools, healthcare, and the budget are all topics for this year's session of the General Assembly. On this week's Eastern Standard we'll be discussing the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Guests for this week's program include:

Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald Leader.

Stu Johnson from our very own WEKU newsroom.

and Jason Bailey Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Development.

Kentucky motorists could soon see more electronic LED billboards along area roads.  The Legislative Transportation Committee on Thursday reviewed an administrative regulation on the matter.  That was the last step before it officially became effective.  It sets a policy for erecting electronic billboards, including provisions for cutting vegetation around the signs.