2020 General Assembly

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An eastern Kentucky lawmaker has proposed a bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and dedicate tax revenues from the industry to the state’s cash-strapped pension systems.

The proposal is a long-shot in the Republican-dominated Kentucky legislature, but Democratic Rep. Cluster Howard of Jackson says that citizens are more receptive to marijuana than they have been in the past.

“I think that a lot of people make this a moral issue. To me, we know as a society that times have changed. People are more apt to accept legalization of the product,” Howard said.

 


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Economists are predicting that Kentucky will bring in slightly more tax revenue over the next two years, but the state is also facing increased financial obligations that will likely eclipse the increase.

On Tuesday, the Consensus Forecasting Group — a panel of economists hired by the state to make revenue predictions at the end of each year — said that tax revenue will increase just 1.3 percent in the upcoming fiscal year and 1.8 percent in the year after that.

The increase translates to $146 million in new revenues in the 2021 fiscal year that begins next July and $207 million in the year after that.

 


Kentucky LRC

Racial disparities are the common thread among the issues the ACLU of Kentucky plans to focus on addressing in the 2020 legislative session.

The three priority areas are probation and parole reforms, learning more about the demographics of Kentucky’s incarcerated juveniles, and implementing changes that will help more women of color survive pregnancy and the postpartum period. In each of those categories, statistics show African Americans suffer more negative impacts than whites.

Kate Miller, who heads up advocacy at ACLU-KY, said her organization could do better at focusing on race in this context.

J. Tyler Franklin

A memo from the outgoing administration of Governor says Governor-elect Andy Beshear faces a massive budget shortfall as he prepares to take office. 

The note from Bevin's budget director estimates the shortfall could exceed $1 billion over the next two years.The legislature will deal with rising costs and a host of competing demands for funding, including pensions, corrections, Medicaid, and employee health benefits.

 

The memo was sent to Beshear's transition team and state lawmakers. Beshear takes office next Tuesday and will submit a two-year spending plan to the legislature early next year.

WKU Public Radio

In the wake of Kentucky’s close gubernatorial race, state lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that would trigger an automatic vote recount in close elections.

Under the proposal by Republican House Speaker David Osborne and Democratic House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, an automatic recount would be triggered if election results show a candidate winning by less than half of a percentage point.

Eric Lycan, general counsel for House Republicans, said that the measure would allow candidates to get a recount without making larger claims of irregularities or voter fraud.

Lisa Autry

Another Republican lawmaker in Kentucky has come out against the idea of Gov. Bevin contesting results of the Nov. 5 election in the state legislature. 

According to unofficial tallies, the GOP incumbent was defeated by 5,189 votes by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear. 

Bevin claims there were voting “irregularities,” but has shown no evidence.  Republican state Senator Mike Wilson of Bowling Green says if the recanvass doesn’t change the results, Bevin should move on.

“You have to show clear, compelling evidence that there was fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election," Wilson said in an interview with WKU Public Radio.

Republican State Senator Dan Seum To Retire This Month

Nov 4, 2019
LRC Public Information

Longtime Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, who broke party ranks to endorse Democrat Andy Beshear in the Kentucky governor’s race, has announced his retirement from the legislature later this month.

The Louisville lawmaker sent a letter to Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday saying he’ll step down on Nov. 16.

Seum, a key player in the GOP’s historic takeover of the Kentucky Senate two decades ago, stirred things up again this past summer when he endorsed Beshear. In doing so, Seum lashed out at Bevin’s handling of the state pension issue and Bevin’s feud with public education groups, noting he has teachers in his family.

Creative Commons

School superintendents across Kentucky joined together Tuesday to ask the legislature for more overall education funding and support for teachers.

The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents organized joint press conferences across the state to lay out their priorities for the next legislative session in January. Local superintendents met at the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative offices in Shelbyville to describe their needs.

 


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Kentucky arts teachers are asking lawmakers to require that all public schools provide visual and performing arts classes.

State law currently only requires high schools to provide art classes — one credit — though many local school districts have arts requirements for elementary and middle schools.

A group of arts educators called the Kentucky Coalition for Arts Education is pushing for the bill, called the Arts Education Equity Act, ahead of next year’s legislative session. A similar version of the bill was proposed but never received a hearing this year.

 


Kentucky LRC

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover has announced he will not seek reelection next year. Hoover stepped down from his leadership position in early 2018 after revelations that he and three other Republican lawmakers signed a secret agreement with a former staffer settling sexual harassment allegations.

Hoover was the first Republican to preside over the House of Representatives in nearly a century when his party won control of the chamber in 2016.

 


Kentucky LRC

Overcrowding has become a major issue facing Kentucky's county jails.

The most recently available numbers from the Kentucky Department of Corrections show county detention centers collectively are nearly 5,000 inmates over capacity.

We spoke with Justice and Public Safety Cabinet John Tilley about the causes behind and ways to address this situation.


Ryland Barton

A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers has proposed a bill that would allow police or family members to ask a court to temporarily take guns away from people if they present a danger to themselves or others.

So-called “red flag laws” exist in at least 17 other states, including neighboring Indiana, and President Donald Trump recently signaled he might support a federal version of the policy.

Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, said the law is necessary in a “strange new world.”


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