Hal Heiner

The Kentucky Board of Education has signed off on new graduation requirements for high school students. 

Under the new standards, 10th grade students would have to pass foundation exams in reading and math in order to receive a diploma.  They could take the tests multiple times, but if they still can’t pass, they could appeal to their local superintendent.

Students would also have to meet benchmark test scores or prove career readiness by earning industry certification or completing an apprenticeship.

Despite some education groups, including the Kentucky Education Association, wanting the vote postponed, the Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the new requirements during a meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday. 

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Board of Education has voted to make Wayne Lewis Kentucky’s education commissioner on a permanent basis. 

Board members on Tuesday chose to bypass a national search and give Commissioner Lewis the top job permanently, pending approval of a contract.  The board could vote on the terms of the contract, including salary, at its meeting on Wednesday.

“I can think of no better person than Wayne Lewis to affect the type of change that is needed in public education in Kentucky right now,” said Kentucky Board of Education Chairman Hal Heiner. “His vision for Kentucky’s students will help accomplish what educators and politicians have struggled to accomplish for many years – to close achievement gaps for students of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds and learning abilities.”

Kyeland Jackson

In another shakeup of Kentucky’s education leadership, the state board of education has elected charter schools advocate Hal Heiner to be its chairman.

Heiner was appointed to the board by Gov. Matt Bevin in April.

“For me, this year marks 22 nearly continuous years of education board service,” Heiner said Thursday morning. “From a P-12 board to a board serving children with learning differences to a post-secondary board, it’s been a labor of love.”

Heiner is an engineer and businessman and has led several organizations that push for opening charter schools in Kentucky and reforming the state’s education system.

Kyeland Jackson

Gov. Matt Bevin’s secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has resigned to accept an appointment to the state Board of Education.

Hal Heiner announced his resignation in a news release Monday. The Louisville businessman was one of Bevin’s GOP primary opponents in 2015. He has worked in the Bevin administration since December 2015.

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner outlined his vision for broad education reform in the commonwealth, including providing at least some form of post-secondary education for everyone, improving outdated area technology centers, reconsidering the traditional school day and investing in career counseling.

Heiner delivered his remarks at Murray State University’s annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture Series Tuesday evening in Wrather Auditorium. In attendance were local educators, state legislators and city and county officials.

Citing the rapid pace of development of smartphones and computer chips, and Amazon’s ‘Kiva’ robots replacing human labor in distribution centers, Heiner said the ‘world of work’ is changing fast.

Thinkstock

Hal Heiner, secretary of the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said a new free college tuition program would help people who have exited the labor force get back to work.

Gov. Matt Bevin created the program by executive order last week after vetoing a similar measure during this year’s legislative session.

The scholarship would be the “last dollar in” for students seeking two-year degrees at schools in Kentucky, paying for the rest of tuition and fee expenses not covered by federal financial aid.

After saying he would not comment on allegations that James Comer abused his college girlfriend, Republican candidate for governor Hal Heiner has a new TV ad that criticizes Comer and Matt Bevin for not protecting the woman.

The 30 second ad says Comer and fellow candidate Matt Bevin have accused Marilyn Thomas and her friends of lying and taking payoffs for their stories. Heiner urges voters to reject this kind of politics and elect someone with "Christian values."

The ad comes after a nonprofit group supporting Comer paid for a TV ad accusing Heiner of "gutter politics" for promoting the abuse allegations. Heiner apologized to Comer's campaign after the Lexington Herald Leader published emails showing Heiner's campaign had communicated with a blogger that has pushed the allegations for months in social media.

Candidates are escalating their attacks now that the election is days away and public polls show a three way tie.

Alix Mattingly, WFPL

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer tag-teamed attacks against former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner on Wednesday during a debate of Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The debate hosted, by the radio program Kentucky Sports Radio, came less than two weeks before the May 19 primary and days after The Courier-Journal published an accusation of domestic abuse against Comer.

The candidates accused Heiner of surrounding himself with operatives who levy attacks against his opponents while Heiner himself avoids personal responsibility.

“Hal Heiner has surrounded himself with the surliest and sorriest group of people who have smeared and assassinated other people in this race, and he can sit here and tell people that he has said nothing but positive things,” Bevin said during the debate.

The debate proved to be the most heated exchange between the candidates so far. This was in part because moderator Matt Jones—known best for his adamant support of Kentucky Wildcats athletics—pressed candidates on issues surrounding allegations that Comer abused his college girlfriend.

Republican candidates for Kentucky governor say presumptive Democratic nominee Jack Conway isn’t fit to serve because he would not fight a challenge to the state’s same sex marriage ban.

Conway refused to defend the ban last year, saying the law is discriminatory. Gov. Steve Beshear hired outside counsel to defend the law.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, one of four Republicans seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said not wanting to defend a law shouldn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter if you agree with the constitution or not. When you take that oath to uphold the constitution, you represent the people of Kentucky,” Comer said.

Louisville businessman and Republican frontrunner Hal Heiner said that Conway should have been required to defend the constitutional amendment.

Hal Heiner campaign

Hal Heiner leads other Republican candidates for this year’s gubernatorial election, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The former Louisville Metro Council member leads with 28 percent of the vote in a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT. The poll surveyed 1,917 registered voters.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Matt Bevin tied for second with 20 percent of the vote. Bevin unsuccessfully ran last year as a tea party candidate in the Republican Senate primary. He was defeated by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Heiner not only lead in the polls. According to financial disclosures, Heiner’s campaign is also millions of dollars ahead of the other GOP candidates.

According to his latest disclosure, Heiner has almost $3.5 million in his campaign coffers. So far, Heiner has donated more than $4 million of his own money to his campaign.

Greg Blair, Heiner’s new campaign spokesman,, said money and airtime is not what’s driving these numbers, though.

“I don’t think anyone has worked harder than Hal Heiner to get out and talk to people and listen to people and hear what they are concerned about,” Blair said.

With Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary four months away, candidates are beginning to line up endorsements.

Kentucky’s AFL-CIO chapter officially endorsed Democratic candidate and Attorney General Jack Conway Tuesday. Republican candidate and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been endorsed by former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Another GOP candidate, former Louisville Council Member Hal Heiner, this week aired the first television ad of the 2015 election cycle.

The spot touts Heiner’s experience in private business and says he would fight against federal mandatessuch as Obamacare and the Common Core educational standards.

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott is also running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Secretary of State and former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says she’s considering several options, including running for governor, attorney general , and a second term as Secretary of State.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

What’s next for Alison Lundergan Grimes? It’s a question some have been asking since the Secretary of State’s loss Tuesday night to incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.  A Bluegrass Poll taken a week before the election suggests voter enthusiasm is tepid with regards to Grimes running for Kentucky governor next year.  The poll found 33 percent of respondents wanted her to run.  Fifty percent did not and 17 percent said they weren’t sure.

Attorney General Jack Conway is the only Democrat to enter the race so far.  Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and businessman Hal Heiner have entered the race on the GOP side.

Whitfield Endorses Comer For Governor

Oct 1, 2014
Office of Rep. Whitfield

Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield has endorsed James Comer for governor.

Comer, the Republican state agriculture commissioner, is seeking the party's nomination for governor in 2015. Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner is also seeking the Republican nomination.

In a news release from the Comer campaign, Whitfield said he believes Comer's achievements as agriculture commissioner makes him the candidate with the best chance to take back the governor's office. Democrats have won nine of the last 10 governor's elections.

Whitfield has represented Kentucky's 1st Congressional District since 1994. The district includes the city of Tompkinsville, Comer's home.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and several state lawmakers also have endorsed Comer.

Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democrat in the race. He has endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, former state Auditor Crit Luallen and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

Hal Heiner campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner says he isn’t sure whether burning fossil fuels like coal contributes to climate change.

 Heiner spoke to Kentucky Public Radio at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s country ham breakfast last Thursday, saying that he’s on the fence when it comes to climate science.

“I don’t have a scientific position, on contribution or not, but what I do know is … if we’re going to stay economically competitive in a global marketplace, we have to burn coal,” said Heiner.

Heiner recently attacked his primary opponent, Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, over comments he made last year that the state needs to move “beyond coal.”

A new poll suggests the race to decide Kentucky’s next governor, it’s still very much up for grabs.

Data from a recent Bluegrass poll shows a plurality of Kentucky voters have either “no opinion” or are neutral toward three gubernatorial candidates, including Attorney General Jack Conway; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner; and Agriculture Secretary James Comer, whom is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend at the Fancy Farm political picnic in West Kentucky.

Notably, the poll suggests Conway is trailing Heiner and Comer among African Americans, with a negative favorability rating of eight points.

The poll surveyed 714 registered voters, and reported a margin of error just under 4 percent.

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