Kentucky General Assembly

Stephen George

Catherine Milliner’s grandson Tony died when he was four years old. Her daughter’s boyfriend was charged with murdering the toddler. And as a three-year trial unfolded, Milliner wanted to keep tabs on every step of the case, including the whereabouts of the accused.

“I got online and found out where Johnny was, the gentleman who murdered my grandson, just by accident,” Milliner said.

Milliner said VINE, Kentucky’s court notification system, failed to notify her of key changes in the case, like the defendant’s transfers between prisons.


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State lawmakers on Monday heard recommendations about how to how to make Kentucky schools safer in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marshall County High School earlier this year and similar tragedies across the country.

A group of school safety experts shied away from controversial policies like arming teachers or new gun regulations, instead advising that schools improve security, hire more school resource officers and find new ways to detect and prevent possible shootings.

Erica Peterson, WFPL

The budget proposal being discussed in the Kentucky General Assembly contains a new infusion of money for counties that are powered by or distribute power for the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

As a federal entity, TVA doesn’t pay property taxes on any of its assets in 39 southern and western Kentucky counties.  Instead, the utility pays an in-lieu-of tax to the state, which is five percent of its gross sales.  Seventy-percent of that money goes back to TVA counties and 30 percent remains in the state’s general fund.  State Representative Bart Rowland of Tompkinsville is co-sponsoring a measure to return more of those dollars to TVA counties.

Ryland Barton

This week, the state legislature continued to preoccupy itself with a sexual harassment scandal in the House of Representatives. After saying he would resign, and then he wouldn’t, Rep. Jeff Hoover formally resigned his post as Speaker of the House.

Meanwhile, a new pension bill still hasn’t emerged. But on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin got some good news in the form of federal approval for his proposal to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.


J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

So far, nine Democratic members of the Kentucky House of Representatives have announced they won’t seek re-election to the Republican-dominated chamber this November.

Some of the lawmakers are pursuing local elected offices, others are just retiring. And Democrats maintain that the exodus is not due to the frustrations of being the minority party in a state that has a Republican legislature and governor for the first time in history.


Ryland Barton

State Rep. Jeff Hoover may have stepped down from his position as speaker of the House, but he’s not going away quietly.

Hoover continues to lash out against fellow lawmakers who filed a complaint to have him expelled from the chamber because of sexual harassment allegations.

That complaint process was created under a week-old disciplinary rule, which Hoover said was written to specifically punish him — it creates an investigatory committee if at least two lawmakers file a complaint against another member.

Ryland Barton

A special committee in the state House of Representatives will investigate whether Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover sexually harassed a former staffer.

The committee was formed under a recently-created rule after eight GOP lawmakers filed a complaint against Hoover on Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that Hoover broke the law and “irreparably damaged” the reputation of the state House of Representatives by allegedly sexually harassing a staffer and trying to cover it up.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The sexual harassment investigation involving two state lawmakers from south central Kentucky is leading to plenty of interest in their seats. 

Four candidates have launched bids to replace embattled Republican State Representatives Jim DeCesare and Michael Meredith.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, two Republicans have filed to run for the seat belonging to DeCesare.  The 17th District House seat covers Butler and a portion of Warren County.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover is not resigning his leadership position, despite saying he would in November after admitting to confidentially settling a sexual harassment complaint made by a staffer.

In a statement distributed Tuesday, Hoover said he would temporarily give powers of the speakership to Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne while the Legislative Ethics Commission investigates a complaint that Hoover and his staff retaliated against another staffer for blowing the whistle on the allegations.

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Kentucky is among states that have cut public education funding most deeply over the last decade, according to a new report from the Center on Budget Policy Priorities.

Through its funding formula, the state sets aside 15.8 percent less for per public school student than it did in 2008 — the third largest drop in the nation, behind Oklahoma and Texas.

Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research for the CBPP, said the cuts hurt states’ economic competitiveness.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives have hired a law firm to look into sexual harassment allegations against multiple GOP members.

The scandal has already led to the resignation of former House Speaker Jeff Hoover.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said that “new information regarding this unfolding situation has emerged today.”

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin and the Republican leaders of the state legislature will unveil a proposal to fix Kentucky’s ailing pension systems Wednesday morning.

In a press release issued late Tuesday the governor’s office said that Bevin, House Speaker Jeff Hoover and Senate President Robert Stivers will present “a comprehensive plan to save Kentucky’s ailing public pension systems” in the State Capitol at 9 a.m.

“There have been hours and hours and hours of discussion among legislators and our administration in dialing this in. We are getting close,” Bevin said in a recorded statement.

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A state lawmaker said he will file a bill that would legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana for adults in Kentucky as an effort to get more tax revenue for the state’s ailing pension systems.

Sen. Dan Seum, a Republican from Louisville, said that lawmakers have been unwilling to seek out new sources of revenue so far but “desperation might change that.”

“We ought to be looking at creating new sources of revenue before we start looking at new taxes,” said Seum, who is the Senate Majority Caucus Chair.

Erica Peterson

A coal industry advocate told Kentucky lawmakers on Thursday that “coal is not a silver bullet” for the country’s energy needs, but said coal should still play a role as natural gas and renewable energy continue to grow.

Paul Bailey, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said power companies should be rewarded for using coal as an energy source.

“Right now coal is not being compensated fairly for some of the attributes it has. For example, coal has a very, very secure fuel supply,” Bailey said during a legislative hearing on Thursday.

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During next year’s legislative session, lawmakers will consider adding a “crime victims’ bill of rights” to Kentucky’s constitution.

The measure would create several constitutional guarantees, including a requirement that courts notify victims or their families when an offender is released from custody.

Advocates have pushed for “Marsy’s Law” in recent legislative sessions but the efforts have failed amid concerns that the measure would add costs and give victims an upper hand against those accused of crimes in court proceedings.

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