Kentucky General Assembly

Politics
3:34 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

2012 Budget Ends With $45 Million Surplus Thanks to Boost in Income, Sales Taxes

Despite accounting mistakes and unforeseen disaster relief expenses, state government is closing the 2012 budget with another surplus.

Originally, the budgetary surplus was 83 million dollars, now it's almost halved to 45 million dollars.

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter informed lawmakers of the surplus at an interim committee meeting today. And she says the remaining surplus will be put into the legislature’s savings account.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

O’Connell Seeks to Lift Kentucky Juvenile Court Confidentiality

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell

After a controversial sexual assault case caught national attention, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell announced Wednesday that he is crafting legislation to lift confidentiality in Kentucky Juvenile Courts.

Earlier this week, 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich faced a contempt charge for revealing the names of two boys who were found guilty of sexually assaulting her last year. Dietrich was upset with the plea bargain prosecutors made and revealed her attackers names via Twitter, which violated a court order to keep that information confidential.

She faced a maximum 180 days in jail and a $500 fine, but the attorneys for the boys dropped the contempt charges earlier this week.

O'Connell says the case demonstrates the strict state law is out of date and that juvenile court should be open to the public.

"Kentucky is in a long standing minority in connection with that and I think it's out of step and time to have an open and honest and vigorous debate on this subject," he says.

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Local News
3:52 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Officials Say Prescription Drug Restrictions Are Working

Oxycontin photo from drugs.com

State officials say a bipartisan measure passed by the General Assembly this spring is making an impact on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.

The legislation, known as House Bill 1, established tougher regulations of clinics that prescribe controlled substances such as Oxycontin and other pain killers. Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that entrepreneurs are already taking notice.

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Politics
3:12 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Kentucky Club for Growth Releases General Assembly Scorecard

The Kentucky Club for Growth has released its legislative report card for the last two sessions of the General Assembly.

The state chapter is part of the larger conservative political action committee, which advocates for lower taxes, cuts in spending and limited government. Its national scorecards often target Democratic legislators, but it also criticizes Republican lawmakers for being "Republican In Name Only" (RINO) who vote against the club's taxation agenda.

The report card rates only four lawmakers with its top distinction of "Defenders of Economic Freedom" with a score over 85 percent. It gives Republican state Representatives Jim DeCesare of Warren County its top rating overall.

Andy Hightower is the executive director of the Kentucky Club for Growth. He says most Kentucky lawmakers continue to talk about controlling spending, but their rhetoric does not match their votes.

“The people who make decisions are again trying to spend as much as they can despite whatever restraints the revenue levels put on them. I will say this year, the budget reflected these constraints more than in the recent past. The level of spending only increased about 2.7 percent,” he says.

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Politics
2:22 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

McConnell's PAC Helps Republicans in Effort to Take State House

Kentucky Republicans hoping to win the state House in elections this fall are getting a helping hand from the party’s leader.

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has used his leadership PAC to dole out at least $54,000 dollars to Republican lawmakers in the last three months.

McConnell typically uses the Bluegrass Committee PAC to help U.S. Senate candidates in his bid to become majority leader. But his focus is now on making sure Kentucky’s two legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans. Currently, the Senate is GOP controlled, but not the House. 

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Politics
3:12 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Former State Rep. DeWayne Bunch Dies

Former Republican state representative DeWayne Bunch has died from head injuries sustained last year.

Bunch was a first term lawmaker when he was injured breaking up a fight at Whitley County High School, where he was a teacher. He went through months of surgeries and recovery in Lexington and in Atlanta.

His wife, Regina Bunch, was elected in a special election to succeed him as state representative. She’s currently still serving in that capacity.

Leaders of both the Democratic and Republican caucus in the state House praised Bunch’s service as a lawmaker.

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Politics
1:59 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

State Budget Sees Small Surplus

Despite dim outlooks, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has turned a budget surplus for the second year in a row.

The last fiscal year closed with  an additional $83 million  in  the General Fund. The road fund has a $31 million  surplus.

The extra revenue has two potential uses. First, the state can make emergency payments, like putting additional money to cleaning up tornado damage in Eastern Kentucky.

And it can send money to the rainy day fund to help build back  Surpluses that were spent during the recession.

Politics
8:00 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Pseudoephedrine Limits Go Into Effect This Thursday

On Thursday, dozens of laws passed in this year’s legislative session will become active.

One of those laws limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can buy from a pharmacy. Pseudoephedrine, or PSE, is used in many cold and allergy medicines. It’s also a key part of meth production.

The new law limits adults to seven point two grams a month, which is roughly the equivalent of a box, before requiring a prescription.

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Local News
12:33 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Kentucky Legislator Wants Tougher DUI Law

Rep. Mike Harmon

A central Kentucky lawmaker says he will continue to push for tougher penalties against drunk drivers.

State Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville has pre-filed a bill for the 2013 legislative session that would lengthen the amount of time a DUI stays on a person’s criminal record to 10 years and increase fines for repeat offenders.

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Politics
3:03 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Shaughnessy Resigns from Kentucky State Senate

Kentucky state Senator Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, has officially resigned.

Last fall, Shaughnessy announced he was not seeking re-election after serving more than 20 years in the state legislature. And with no plans of a special session or imperative issues on the interim agenda, Shaughnessy says now is the best time to step down.

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