2019 General Assembly

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Gov. Matt Bevin spent much of his fourth State of the Commonwealth Address praising the Republican-led legislature for passing measures like so-called “right-to-work” legislation, anti-abortion policies and attempting to make changes to state worker pension benefits.

The appreciative tone comes a little more than a month after Bevin chided the General Assembly — which has more than three-fifths majority in each chamber — for quickly ending a specially-called legislative session without passing an overhaul of the pension systems.

Fons Cervera

The parents of two teenagers killed during a shooting at Marshall County High School last year testified on Thursday in favor of a bill that seeks to improve safety in Kentucky schools.

Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both sophomores, died on January 23, 2018 after police say a fellow student took his step-father’s pistol from a closet at home and opened fire on a group of students before school started.

A year after the incident, Kentucky lawmakers have proposed a bill that would encourage local school districts to hire more armed guards and mental health counselors.

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A Taylor County Republican in the Kentucky House has filed a bill creating scholarship tax credits designed to help low-income families afford non-public school education for their children.

Such proposals have been criticized in the past as unfair state support for private schools.

House Bill 205, filed by Campbellsville Representative Bam Carney, creates a mechanism to increase private donations for scholarships to be used at private schools.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

An election contest board will meet on Friday and could decide who finally will occupy the 13th District seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Over the weekend, a recount resulted in a tie between Democrat Jim Glenn and Republican DJ Johnson, both of Owensboro.  Johnson requested the recount after losing his reelection bid to Glenn by a single vote last fall.

Over the weekend, the Daviess County Board of Elections recounted more than 12,000 ballots by hand.  Glenn came out ahead by three votes, but after an appeal by Johnson's attorney C. Michael Shull III, the board voted to give one of those votes back, leaving Johnson down by two votes.  The panel then decided to count five of 17 rejected absentee ballots.  Three were in favor of Johnson, one went for Glenn, and one was blank, resulting in a tie.

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Local health departments, mental health agencies and domestic violence shelters are asking state lawmakers to shield them from massive pension contributions that they say will bankrupt them or severely limit services.

As of last July, most state agencies pay 83 percent of employee salaries to Kentucky’s pension system. That means on top of paying an employee’s salary, state agencies have to send an additional 83 percent of that salary to pay for state worker retirements.

J. Tyler Franklin

After taking a three week break, Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort on Tuesday for the second part of this year’s legislative session.

Republican leaders say they want to work on legislation dealing with pensions, school safety, foster care and bail reform.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne said that after the state Supreme Court struck down the pension bill that was signed into law last year, the new class of lawmakers would address the issue “without divisive rhetoric.”

J. Tyler Franklin

A recount in a contested Kentucky state House race where a Democrat was elected by a one-vote margin has ended in a tie.

Owensboro Democrat Jim Glenn defeated Republican State Rep. DJ Johnson on Election Day by one vote. But the Republican-controlled state legislature ordered a recount at Johnson's request.

Saturday, the Daviess County Board of Elections recounted the more than 12,000 ballots by hand. A review of ballots cast on Election Day showed Glenn leading Johnson by two votes. But the board decided to count five of 17 rejected absentee ballots. Three of those ballots went for Johnson, one went for Glenn and one was blank. 

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Local election officials have scheduled a recount for a Kentucky House race decided by one vote.

The Daviess County Board of Elections will recount results from House District 13 on Saturday. Local election officials say they plan to finish the recount in one day.

Democrat Jim Glenn defeated Republican DJ Johnson by one vote in November. Kentucky does not have an automatic recount law, but it does allow candidates to contest election results to the state legislature. Last week a panel of state House lawmakers voted 6-3 to order the recount.

Ryland Barton

State Rep. Jeff Hoover and two others are suing a former staffer for allegedly violating a confidentiality agreement regarding her allegations of sexual harassment.

Hoover, Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland and former Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green filed the suit in Fayette Circuit Court on Wednesday, saying that the woman violated the confidentiality agreement shortly after they reached a $110,000 settlement with her, signed on Oct 25, 2017.

The suit alleges that “within minutes of reaching a settlement and executing the settlement agreement,” the then-staffer met her supervisor, Daisy Olivo, and disclosed the settlement.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is laying out his priorities for the current legislative session. They include creating a fund for opioid lawsuit settlements to fight substance abuse, mandatory human trafficking education for truck drivers, allowing the Office of the Attorney General to petition the Supreme Court for multi-county grand juries and creating audits for utility companies before rate hikes are approved.

Beshear’s priorities come as he runs for Governor Matt Bevin’s seat in a Democratic primary that includes three other candidates. Here’s a rundown of the measures he announced Wednesday:

WKU Public Radio

A series of reports from The Pew Charitable Trusts that focuses on access to the ballot box said Kentucky lawmakers are showing increased interest in reforming state elections.

 

Scott Greenberger is the executive editor of Stateline, a journalistic project at Pew. He said some lawmakers in the commonwealth are following national trends on issues such as when citizens can cast their ballots.

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Lawyers representing two former legislative staffers have asked an appeals court to prevent lawmakers accused of harassment from intervening in their whistleblower lawsuits.

Attorney Shane Sidebottom asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals in a motion filed Wednesday to vacate a decision allowing Republican Reps. Jeff Hoover, Michael Meredith and Jim DeCesare to intervene in the whistleblower cases.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered in December that the lawmakers could intervene in order to cross examine the testimony of a former staffer, who detailed sexual harassment and assault allegations against the lawmakers in a sealed deposition.

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A special board overseeing an election challenge in the state House of Representatives has voted to conduct a recount of a contested seat in western Kentucky.

Initial results from the November election showed Democrat Jim Glenn winning the seat for House District 13, defeating incumbent GOP Rep. DJ Johnson by just one vote.

The district is located in Daviess County and includes parts of Owensboro.

Ryland Barton

A lawyer for state Rep. Jeff Hoover has filed notice that she intends to question a former staffer under oath next week about her allegations Hoover sexually assaulted her.

But a lawyer representing the accuser says she will appeal to a higher court to stop the deposition from taking place.

The development comes after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Kentucky Public Radio published details from a sealed copy of the former staffer’s sworn testimony, which alleged that Hoover sexually assaulted her more than 50 times during her employment between 2015 and 2017.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Democratic Party is calling for Republican state Reps. Jeff Hoover and Michael Meredith to resign in the wake of an investigation published Tuesday detailing testimony by a former staffer alleging sexual harassment by the lawmakers.

The woman alleged that Hoover sexually assaulted her more than 50 times, and that Meredith screamed vulgar comments at her. The woman, identified in some court records as Jane Doe, made the allegations in a sealed deposition obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Kentucky Public Radio.

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