J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance is reinstating work search requirements for residents seeking unemployment benefits.

The state waived work search requirements at the beginning of the pandemic to make the benefits process easier for out-of-work Kentuckians. Starting May 9, however, claimants will have to prove they are actively seeking employment to receive benefits.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said claimants will have to report at least one attempt to find work per week.

“You are allowed a reasonable period of time to find work that is comparable in pay and skill level to your most recent employment,” Cubbage said.


State Auditor Mike Harmon says at least 10 workers in the state unemployment office improperly filed for benefits last year and used their official positions to access their accounts.

The findings come after a series of reports this year of state employees wrongly filing for jobless benefits despite keeping full-time jobs with the state.

In the audit released Wednesday, Harmon said he couldn’t determine if employees actually made changes to their claims. He said he is referring the findings to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.

Harmon, a Republican, said the report shows Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration mishandled the system during the pandemic.

Brittany Patterson

In Central Appalachia an estimated 538,000 unplugged oil and gas wells and 853,393 acres of abandoned mine lands sit unreclaimed, often polluting the air and water, and presenting public safety threats.

But according to two new reports from the regional think tank Ohio River Valley Institute,  these sites that now pose serious health risks to residents could be providing thousands of jobs for the region. The group’s findings indicate that, should the federal government take the risk seriously and invest in mitigation, not only would environmental risk be reduced, but thousands of well-paying jobs could potentially be created.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky will take its unemployment system offline for four days starting early Friday morning to try to interrupt an ongoing effort to hack into user accounts.

There will be no way to file new claims between Friday and Monday. Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said the shutdown will require claimants to reset login information, like PINs and passwords.

“You will not be able to file new claims or requests for benefits,” she said. “If you need to file a new claim during that time, we will be able to backdate that claim for you…No one will lose out on their chance to request those weeks of benefits.”

Margaret O'Donnell

Kentuckians pushing to lift people out of poverty and guarantee access to voting took part in a car caravan in Frankfort on Monday.

The Poor People’s Campaign organized car caravans in more than 25 states, including Kentucky, in an ongoing series of nationwide demonstrations the group calls "Moral Mondays." 

Kentucky supporters of the Poor People’s Campaign made their voices heard by driving in a "pandemic safe" caravan around the state capitol.

The caravan was followed by an outdoor news conference and two members of the group - wearing masks - going into the building to deliver printed copies of 14 demands to state legislators. Those demands are related to social justice and ending poverty. 

Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET

The Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Saturday, securing additional aid for American families, workers and businesses — and a legislative victory for the Biden administration.

After more than 24 hours of debate, the evenly divided Senate voted 50-49 to approve the measure. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent because he was in Alaska for a family funeral.

Bytemarks via Creative Commons

A bipartisan bill that would allow the state to forgive the debt of Kentuckians who were overpaid in state unemployment insurance through no fault of their own passed the state House of Representatives unanimously Tuesday.

If passed, House Bill 468 would allow the Labor Cabinet to waive overpayment debt if the debt wasn’t the fault of the recipient or if collecting the debt would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.”

Kentucky is one of ten states without a statute allowing debt from overpayment of unemployment benefits to be forgiven.

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky state officials said no data was stolen during a breach of the unemployment insurance system this week.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said at Thursday’s state coronavirus briefing that the breach happened Wednesday morning. The Commonwealth Office of Technology responded by implementing safeguards during the login process.

“The good news is that our Commonwealth Office of Technology and our office of unemployment recognized the issue, and they were able to prevent any intrusion into the system,” Cubbage said. “They are monitoring closely for any additional attempts, but they did stellar work in protecting our UI system from the breach. No UI user’s data was stolen.”

Material Handling Systems Facebook

A new manufacturer is coming to Bowling Green and creating 200 jobs.  Material Handling Systems, based in Bullitt County, is expanding its operations by adding a new facility in the Kentucky Transpark. 

MHS produces conveyor systems for companies, including UPS, FedEx, and Wayfair. In a virtual news conference on Thursday, CEO Scott McReynolds said Bowling Green is a good fit for the company.

“Of course, the access to major transportation routes, proximity to our other operations, and it’s a growing population center with a strong workforce and a great quality of life for our employees," McReynolds said.


For months, Kentucky officials have responded to concerns from people who owed overpayment debt from unemployment payments by saying they were seeking permission from the federal government to forgive the debts.

The most recent federal coronavirus relief package finally grants states that option, but it will have no effect in Kentucky. That’s because debt forgiveness still isn’t allowed under state law.

Kentucky made thousands of improper payments at the start of the pandemic, including many to people who believed they were eligible for unemployment benefits based on the governor’s directions, if they needed to “self-quarantine.” Some substitute teachers also racked up overpayment debt when they continued to claim while school was out for the summer.

Stephen JerkinsWPLN News

Tennessee is looking for the best way to spend $272 million in coronavirus relief funds by the end of the year, and the money will likely go to familiar initiatives.

“Ultimately, we’ll have plenty of options available to exhaust the remainder of the coronavirus relief fund,” says, Tony Niknejad, policy director for Gov. Bill Lee.

The financial stimulus accountability group is charged with overseeing the spending but has largely followed the governor’s lead. The governor’s office has three priorities for the remaining money.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky’s third-highest daily total of COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

The 1,821 new cases continued a week of near-record daily totals. Cases have surged throughout Kentucky and surrounding states this month.

“This is a type of outbreak where we can’t deny our way out of it,” Beshear said. “We can’t rationalize our way out of it. We can’t try to find excuses for not following the guidance.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Senate Republicans intend to file a bill that would prevent the unemployment office from “clawing back” money mistakenly paid to people who self-quarantined.

Republican leadership announced the plan at a press conference last week, where they discussed concerns with Gov. Andy Beshear’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those concerns were missteps in the unemployment insurance program that led the state to pay, then seek to recoup, benefits for people who felt they had a reasonable fear of catching the virus at work. Beshear said during a March briefing that they would be eligible, and the unemployment office has since backtracked on that offer, blaming the confusion on shifting guidance from the federal government. 

Ryland Barton

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will hold another vote on a slimmed-down coronavirus relief package before the election, but that he’s not willing to consider a larger deal despite President Trump’s willingness to do so.

McConnell has been unable to get support for his $500 billion coronavirus bill in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim 53-47 majority over Democrats. Bills generally require 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Meanwhile, Trump has proposed a $1.8 trillion package, and has urged Republican lawmakers to “go big or go home” on a new bill.


Gov. Andy Beshear says he was passing along guidance from the federal government when he told folks who left work over fear of the coronavirus to self-quarantine to apply for unemployment insurance. 

That federal guidance changed about a month later, according to a statement from Beshear’s office in response to a KyCIR investigation which found Kentucky’s unemployment office is kicking people who met that criteria off unemployment benefits and billing them for “overpayment” debt. 

It’s unclear if state officials ever communicated the change to out-of-work Kentuckians after the state received new guidance in April. The state’s “frequently asked questions” page about unemployment insurance benefits still says that Kentuckians with a reasonable fear of contracting coronavirus are eligible, if their employer hasn’t offered telework or reasonable accommodations.