Kenny Colston

Kentucky Public Radio Frankfort Bureau Chief

Kenny Colston is based in the state capitol and files pieces for public radio stations across the commonwealth. Before joining KPR in 2012, he covered state government for Insight CN2. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Kenny was a four-year staff member of the Kentucky Kernel, serving as editor-in-chief in his last year. 

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Politics
10:56 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Poll Shows Increased Support for Statewide Smoking Ban

Credit Creative Commons

The majority of Kentuckians — 59 percent — support a statewide smoking ban, says a poll conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Last year, the poll said for the first time that most Kentuckians supported banning smoking in  public establishments. 

This year, fewer than  38 percent of Kentuckians opposed such a ban. The rest had no opinion.

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Politics
8:00 am
Sun January 6, 2013

Tea Party Plans Anti-Obamacare Rally to Mark Kentucky Legislative Session Opening

Credit Wikipedia Commons

Before the first gavel is hit the start the 2013 legislative session in Kentucky, Tea Party activists plan to rally in the Capitol Rotunda against the federal Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

It’s the second capital rally against the health care law, which Kentucky has actively worked to implement by executive order from Governor Steve Beshear.

Rally organizer and activist David Adams says the goal of the rally is to convince lawmakers to pass a law overturning Beshear’s order and the health exchange in Kentucky.

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Politics
7:00 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Still Working on New Liquor Law

Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

Kentucky legislators are still seeking a new state liquor law, a leading lawmaker says.  If they don't, a bottle of bourbon may be as close as the corner gas station.

Last year, a federal judge threw out Kentucky laws that don’t allow groceries and gas stations to sell wine or hard spirits, saying it was unfair. Kentucky pharmacies — which often sell grocery items — can sell the hard stuff.

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Politics
11:19 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Speaker Stumbo Favors Medicaid Expansion in Kentucky

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

The Speaker of the Kentucky House says it’s a no-brainer for Kentucky to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. 

Under the health care law, states can expanded their Medicaid rolls to 138 percent of the poverty line and for three years, the federal government will pay for the expansion.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has yet to decide on whether Kentucky will expand, saying he will calculating costs after 2017, when the feds pay only 90 percent of expansion.

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Politics
12:01 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Legislators Unlikely to Put State Health Exchange into Law

Audrey Haynes
Credit Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Gov. Steve Beshear will likely have to re-issue his executive order to keep the state’s health exchange running. 

Beshear started the exchange — part of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare — earlier this year through an executive order and state health officials have forged ahead with its creation.

But unless the Kentucky General Assembly takes up the issue to puts it into law, it's likely Beshear’s original order will have to be re-issued to keep work on the exchange moving forward.

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Politics
2:19 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Speaker Greg Stumbo Joins Calls for National Debate on Gun Issues

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is joining calls for a nation debate about gun issues in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings, and also said that violent video games are a cause of such violence.

Stumbo says he’s a lifelong National Rifle Association member and an avid outdoorsman — and he has helped many NRA-friendly bills pass in Kentucky. But he’s joining other rural Democrats in their call for a discussion on gun control.

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Politics
12:33 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Gov. Steve Beshear Concerned With Drop in Coal Severance Revenues

Steve Beshear
Credit Kentucky Governor's Office

Gov. Steve Beshear says he's concerned about the declining revenues form the coal severance tax, echoing concerns raised by House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Money from the tax on mined coal is used largely for state, county and city infrastructure projects -- specifically in coal mining areas like Eastern Kentucky. 

“I am concerned about the coal severance receipts -- they are down, they’re down significantly. And that's because coal mining is down significantly, the tons of coal mined has dropped,” Beshear said.

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Politics
10:00 am
Tue December 25, 2012

New Leadership in Senate Doesn't Equal Easier Road for Dropout Bill

Damon Thayer
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

Three of the chief opponents to raising the dropout age in Kentucky will not return to Frankfort next year.

That doesn't mean a dropout bill is likely to pass in the 2013 legislative session.

State law allows 16-year-olds to drop out of school with parental permission. But education advocates want the law changed to eliminate all loopholes and require dropouts to be 18 or older.

With a new education chairman and new leadership in the Senate, those advocates are hopeful this will be their year.

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Politics
7:00 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Kentucky Legislative Leaders: Pensions Will Be Top Issue in 2013

Greg Stumbo and Damon Thayer
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Figuring out how to finance a plan to shore up Kentucky public employees' pensions will be the General Assembly's greatest task in 2013, two legislative leaders said.

A legislative task force has suggested several ways to brace  state employee pensions, but passing legislation and paying for it will be difficult. Lawmakers' proposals include relying on existing economic growth and raising taxes on Kentuckians with higher earnings.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he hasn't settled on a solution.

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Politics
7:00 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Stumbo: Short Session Doesn't Allow for Many Drastic Actions

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

The Kentucky House speaker doesn't expect the General Assembly to take drastic action in the 2013 legislative session.

That doesn't mean lawmakers won't have much to discuss when they return to Frankfort on Jan. 8. 

Pension reform and tax reform are up for discussion.

And don't forget that recurring issue of expanded gambling.

But it's an odd-numbered year, when the General Assembly meets for just 30 days.

That short session will limit lawmakers' activity, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.

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