2013 General Assembly

11:58 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Beer Cheese, Ale-8 Considered for Official Designation in General Assembly

Credit Wikipedia Commons

The bluegrass region of Kentucky: famous for thoroughbreds—and beer cheese?

Among Kentucky's pressing issues—from underfunded pensions to Medicaid managed care—the General Assembly is also considering legislation that designates Clark County as the birthplace of beer cheese. For those unfamiliar with spread, know that it's exactly what you think it is.

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3:02 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

State Senator Perry Clark Lauds Hemp, Pot Poll Results

State Sen. Perry Clark rallies for medical marijuana bill
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

State Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, is touting a Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, which shows broad support for industrial hemp and medical marijuana.

The survey finds 65 percent of Kentuckians support hemp and 60 percent favor using the drug for prescription use. Clark filed a measure dubbed the "Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act" that would move cannabis to the list of prescription drugs to treat illnesses.

Supporters rallied for the proposal earlier this year, but it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Clark says he hopes fellow state lawmakers are paying attention to national trends and the shift in public opinion among Kentuckians.

"Clearly we’re forming a cannabis majority in this nation. You know 19 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, at least two states have gone total recreational and eight other states have passed industrial hemp," he says. "It’s time for us to think forward and realize this is not the top problem that we’re having in Kentucky."

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8:30 am
Fri February 22, 2013

United Kentucky Tea Party Accuses Mitch McConnell of Delaying Military Voting Bill

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at a Tea Party rally in Frankfort
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

United Kentucky Tea Party is blaming Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell for stalling a bill in the General Assembly that would have allowed Kentucky's military service members to vote electronically while overseas.

The legislation was spearheaded by Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and backed by Republican state Senate President Robert Stivers.

In January, Stivers told WFPL Frankfort Bureau Chief Kenny Colston he wanted the bill to pass quickly. But at a committee meeting this week, Stivers urged an amendment that weakened the measure.

 From The Lexington Herald-Leader

After the committee unanimously approved the amended version of Senate Bill 1, Stivers acknowledged that he had consulted with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell about the measure. McConnell, a Republican, is seeking re-election next year. Many Democrats are urging Grimes to run against him.

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7:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Bill Blocking Taxpayer Dollars in City Ethics Cases Clears House Panel

Democratic State Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville
Credit keeplarryclark.com

A bill requiring Louisville Metro officials and employees to pay for their own defense attorneys when charged with an ethics violation passed a state House committee by a unanimous vote.

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, introduced the measure citing the over $180,000 in costs for two cases involving members of the Metro Council in recent years.

"I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service," Clark told WFPL earlier this week. "I think we should be held at a higher standard."

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5:13 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Kentucky House Committee Backs Automatic Collection of DNA From Felony Suspects

Credit Creative Commons

Legislation to allow the automatic collection of DNA samples from felony suspects easily won committee approval Wednesday in the Kentucky House.

The DNA would be gathered with a cheek swab. It would be tested and results recorded, so it could be used to identify suspects in other cases. 

The House Judiciary Committee heard from Jayann Sepich, whose daughter Katie was raped and murdered in 2003 near her New Mexico home. She says this simple process has the power to quickly punish the guilty and heal the harm they’ve done.

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8:30 am
Mon February 11, 2013

State Lawmaker: City Officials Shouldn't Use Taxpayer Dollars in Ethics Defense

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville
Credit keeplarryclark.com

State Representative Larry Clark, D-Louisville, has introduced a bill that would require city officials charged with an ethics violation to pay for their own attorneys.

Under the current system, Metro officials and employees can request a lawyer paid for by the city to defend them against an ethics charge. The new legislation would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used in those cases.

Clark says citizens should not be funding the defense of ethics charges against local officials accused of violating the public trust.

"First and foremost, I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service. I think we should be held at a higher standard," he says.

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6:00 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Stumbo, Stivers Oppose Local Option Sales Tax; Fischer Undeterred

Greg Fischer
Credit Louisville Metro Government

Kentucky's top two legislative leaders are throwing cold water on a proposal to create a local option sales tax for city and county governments.

The plan would give local voters the ability to decide whether to fund special projects through a temporary increase to the state sales tax. It would typically be used for infrastructure, supporters say, but could also be applied to long-term investments.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, however, says cities already have alternatives for such projects.

"There's a lot of options that they have, that they haven't used for local option taxes if they want to utilize them. So I don't necessarily favor it," he says.

The measure is heavily supported by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, both Democrats. 

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2:05 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Council GOP Lobbying State Lawmakers on Pension Reform

Jerry Miller
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Republican leaders in the Louisville Metro Council are headed to Frankfort this week to lobby state lawmakers on pension reform.

The city’s pension cost has more than doubled in the past decade to make up approximately 15 percent of the budget.  In his State of the City address, Mayor Greg Fischer urged residents to call for their legislators to take action in this year’s session to change the system.

Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Fleming, R-7, and Vice-Chairman Jerry Miller, R-19, are scheduled to meet with Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown, who co-chaired a legislative task force on the state pension system.

Miller says rising pension costs are at critical stage and are extremely important for Louisville residents because of the potential impact on city services.

"If you’re in government you have to deal with pension cost because of it’s dramatic increase, which is really crowding out a lot of other things we’d like to do—social services and a variety of other things," he says.

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6:05 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Fischer Lobbies for Local Option Sales Tax, Pension Reform in State of City Address

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Mayor Greg Fischer says Louisville’s economy is rebounding from the national recession, but the city still faces a large budget shortfall due to rising pension costs.

Fischer made the comments at his annual State of the City address before the Rotary Club at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage. This year's speech was slightly more upbeat than previous ones, with the mayor arguing that Louisville is becoming more entrepreneurial.

The Metro area has added 22,000 jobs and unemployment has dropped by almost four percent in the last two years. But challenges remain, namely Metro Government's hefty budget deficits.

"Last year’s $25 million gap is now down to about $13-14 million out of a $500 million general fund. That’s still a lot of money. But we didn’t get into this problem in two years and we can’t solve it in two years," says Fischer.

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4:07 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

State Lawmaker Proposes Local Option Sales Tax Bill

State Sen. Kathy Stein and Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit Legislative Research Commission/Metro Louisville

State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, has introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would give cities a local option sales tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has been a major proponent of the measure, which allows local voters to decide whether to fund special projects through a temporary sales tax increase. The mayor recently outlined the measure for Metro Council members, saying it gives Louisville more independence.

The bill was introduced Jan. 8 and will be in the State and Local Government Committee.

Stein says many lawmakers oppose any new taxes, but this gives local residents decision-making power.

"It is an option, unfortunately whenever some of us hear the word tax we jump 10 feet up in the air and say 'no, no, no.' But you need to pay attention. It gives the taxpayers the option of doing it. The people who vote have the options," she says.

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