The Richmond Register

Local News

February 9, 2013

Disagreement beginning to show in Frankfort

FRANKFORT — The first full working week of the 2013 General Assembly was again full of apparent determination by all parties to change the working atmosphere.

But there are hints of disagreement beginning to show.

Gov. Steve Beshear called for tax reform during his annual State of the Commonwealth address, saying he was unwilling to take up pension reform without the security of new funding to adequately fund education after five years of budget cuts.

But the message was less than warmly received by Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he thinks pension reform must be done now and can be done “without exposing the taxpayer to more liability.”

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said Beshear’s talk of “investment” made him nervous that the governor might want to “grow government again.” And House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said the speech was “as predictable as the sun coming up” and said Beshear offered no specific agenda or solutions.

But there was action by both chambers on priorities each had established.

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill based on recommendations from the pension reform task force. There wasn’t a whole lot of debate and it passed 33-5. But while the bill lays out changes for future hires in the type of system they’ll pay into, it only states the legislature’s “intent” to fully fund the system beginning next year — the key recommendation of the task force.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo pointed to the absence of an identified source for the $327 million or so it will take for that contribution and said without a dedicated source of revenue, the prospects of passage aren’t terrific in the House.

That was also the reservation expressed by the five senators who opposed the bill and a concern expressed even by some who voted for it.

On Friday, the House passed House Bill 1, a bill to require special taxing districts to provide financial accountability, on a vote of 99-1. So far, there has appeared no real opposition to the measure in the Senate but there are at least a couple of senators who have expressed some reservation about the impact of the bill on some districts.

The House also passed a bill authorizing public universities to issue bonds for construction projects and pay off those bonds through revenues the universities generate. No direct tax dollars are involved. Six universities will construct 11 facilities — from academic buildings to residence dormitories to upgrades to the University of Kentucky football stadium — totaling $363 million.

The House and Welfare Committee on Thursday approved a bill which in previous years would have been considered dead on arrival — a statewide smoking ban in all indoor workplaces and public accommodations.

Such statewide bans exist in 29 states, but tobacco was once the principal agricultural product for thousands of Kentucky farmers. The bill now must pass the House where Stumbo supports it. But even if it passes the lower chamber, it faces an uncertain fate in the more conservative Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent to the Senate floor a bill which would allow convicted felons to seek DNA testing of evidence to prove their innocence. Currently in Kentucky, only death row inmates are allowed to pursue such a remedy.

Sponsor Sen. John Schickel told the committee he was shocked to learn others couldn’t try to prove their innocence through DNA testing and called the bill “a matter of justice.”

But a substitute version of the bill, approved by the committee, would exclude those who accepted Alford Pleas (not an admission of guilt but rather concession the evidence is sufficient to convict the defendant) or those who pleaded guilty.

Some attorneys on the committee and a representative of the Innocence Project, a group which advocates for such tests, contended there are sometimes reasons an innocent person may plead guilty.

Lawmakers return Monday for the ninth day of the 30-day, nonbudget session which occurs in odd-numbered years. On tap Monday is an anticipated hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee about a bill to authorize industrial hemp.

Expected to appear in support of the bill are Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Republican U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie and Democratic U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at cnhifrankfort.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Suicide attempt fatal for inmate

    A Todd County man died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital following a suicide attempt at the Madison County Detention Center, according to Madison and Fayette county officials.
    George Kenneth Williams, 50, of Allensville, was transported Monday afternoon by Madison County EMS to Baptist Health Richmond, according to EMS Director Jimmy Cornelison. He was then transferred to Baptist Health in Lexington where he died Tuesday, according to the Fayette County Coroner’s Office.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCDW instructor indicted on charges of failing to provide training

    A Madison County grand jury has indicted a carry-concealed weapons permit instructor on charges he falsely claimed to have provided instruction to one person for a CCDW permit and provided incomplete training to three others.
    Christopher D. Fins was indicted April 9 on one count of CCDW instructor not providing firearms training and three counts of providing incomplete firearms training.
    Fins faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all four felony charges.

    April 17, 2014

  • EKU dorm sprinklers may have been activated maliciously

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.
    Fluctuating pressure then caused a campus water main to break, according to EKU spokesperson Mark Whitt.
    The cause is uncertain, but university officials are investigating to determine if the sprinklers were activated maliciously, Whitt said.
    The residence hall houses 260 students who were placed in other university housing or stayed with friends. All were able to move back in later in the day, he said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sixth person charged in motel meth bust

    A sixth person has been charged in connection with a methamphetamine-making operation discovered last week at the Bel Air Motel in Richmond.
    Roger M. Million, 24, Moberly Road, was charged Wednesday with manufacturing methamphetamine.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Madison County inmate dies in Lexington hospital

    An inmate at the Madison County Detention Center died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital, according to officials with the Fayette County Coroner’s Office and Madison County EMS.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sprinkler goes off; dorm evacuated

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17 4Hfieldday1.jpg 4-H Environmental Field Day

    Madison County fourth-graders participated in several hands-on activities Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual 4-H Environmental Field Day at the county fairgrounds.

    April 16, 2014 8 Photos

  • Hearing delayed on West Main zone change

    Signs giving notice of a public hearing on a proposed zone change at the corner of West Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue were not posted in time for the Richmond Planning Commission to scheduled a public hearing for its April 24 business session.

    April 16, 2014

  • Berea mulls break with Kentucky Utilities

    The city of Berea is considering whether to extend its contract with Kentucky Utilities or to shop around for another electricity provider.

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-17 Melissa Lear.jpg BPD charge two in Richmond heroin-trafficking case

    Berea police arrested two women April 10 in a Richmond home in connection with heroin possession and trafficking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

     View Results