Kentucky

After Gov. Matt Bevin called a surprise legislative session on Monday afternoon, state lawmakers traveled to Frankfort and began working on a new attempt to overhaul the state’s pension systems.

Greg Kelly's grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather's house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly's small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek.

Kayden is an energetic five year old—though he’ll tell you he’s actually five-and-a-half. He lives in Russellville with his sister, Kaleigh, their grandmother, and her husband.

Kayden and Kaleigh are just two of the estimated 96,000 Kentucky kids living with a non-parental relative or a close-family friend--known as “fictive kin”--in the last three years. The KIDS COUNT Data Center estimates nine percent of Kentucky children has been under kinship or fictive care since 2016.

The two went to live with their grandmother, Kim Guffy, four years ago after an emergency protective order violation.


Ryland Barton / WFPL

In a major blow to Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration and the Republican-led legislature, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has upheld a ruling that struck down changes to the state’s pension system that passed into law earlier this year.

cincinnati edition
Jim Nolan / WVXU

A local landscaper on trial for taking part in an alleged minority contracting fraud scheme takes the stand in his own defense. Hamilton County property owners will see an increase in their taxes in 2019 for the Reds and Bengals stadiums. And a dispute between the county and the City of Cincinnati could delay construction of a music venue at The Banks.

graduation
Pixabay

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved new high school graduation requirements, mandating students demonstrate competency in basic math and reading, and complete benchmarks intended to show they are ready for work or college before they can graduate.

www.flickr.com, available for use

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has revised his proposal for high schoolers to demonstrate they’re ready to graduate.

Flickr

The head of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and two Republican state lawmakers say the legislature needs to make changes to the state’s criminal code to address the state’s surging prison population.

A Democratic state representative has filed legislation that would create an explicit ban on sexual harassment in the statehouse and a process to handle complaints.

adam Meier
Scren Grab / YouTube

Kentucky’s top health official says the state is moving forward with changes to its Medicaid program, including a requirement that some enrollees work, attend school or volunteer to keep coverage. The Trump administration again approved the state’s new eligibility rules last week.

Putting food on the table has become a much bigger struggle for tens of thousands of Kentuckians over the past few months. 

The state began reinstating work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - or SNAP - on a county-by-county basis back in February.  Since May, new data shows one-in-five people subject to the requirement has lost SNAP assistance. 

Dustin Pugel is with the liberal-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and co-authored the study.  He says he’s concerned about the work requirement being imposed in economically depressed areas of the state.

The head of Kentucky’s retirement system for public sector workers says funding continues to be a challenge. 

Pension funds have decreased as retirements rise and payroll contributions fall.  David Eager, executive director of Kentucky Retirement Systems, addressed the Public Pension Oversight Board on Monday. 

He said the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) non-hazardous plan is now less than 13 percent funded, making it the worst-funded of all the state’s pension plans.

An official in the revenue cabinet says state government is benefitting from new online sales taxation methods.  But, Richard Dobson, director in the Office of Sales and Excise Taxes, says it would not be considered a tax windfall. 

kentucky driver's license
State of Kentucky / AP

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says now is a good time to start thinking about what documents you'll need once the state starts rolling out new REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses early next year.

On what would have been her 43rd wedding anniversary, Lisa Hobbs stood in the front yard of Camp Pius, the farm handed down through her husband's family for generations. She watched as the very same dump truck that killed her husband rolled down her country lane.

In December 2016, Pius "Gene" Hobbs was raking gravel with the Meade County public works crew when a dump truck backed over him. The driver then accelerated forward, hitting him a second time. Hobbs was crushed to death.

After Florida voters decided to restore voting rights to people who have completed sentences for felony convictions, Kentucky lawmakers will once again consider the issue during the next legislative session.

While some may still be catching their breath after the midterm election, candidates in the 2019 race for Kentucky governor are off and running. Democrat Rocky Adkins was at a union hall in Owensboro on the morning of Nov. 20, followed by an afternoon stop at a restaurant in Bowling Green.

Representative Rocky Adkins said his 31 years in the state legislature, including serving as minority floor leader, and his common sense approach to finding  solutions make him a strong candidate in what’s looking like a competitive Democratic primary in May.

Expect higher than normal volumes of traffic this Thansgiving weekend. 

AAA is projecting more than 54 milloin Americans will travel fifty miles or more away from home this Wednesday through Sunday.  Spokeswoman Linda Lambert says with all those people sharing the roadway, there's no substitute for being prepared.

"Three-hundred-sixty-thousand motorists will be rescued between Wednesday and Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  This happens every time there's a big travel season, we see the top three reasons people call AAA for lockouts, flat tires, and dead batteries."


Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit against another painkiller manufacturer, saying that the company fueled Kentucky’s drug epidemic through aggressive marketing and fraud.

Kentucky has become one of more than two-dozen states to ban state resources from going towards companies that boycott Israeli products and services. Capitol reporter Ryland Barton says Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order freezing out those who support the boycott.

test
Pixabay

Kentucky has one of the highest graduation rates in the nation, with nearly 90 percent of seniors receiving their diplomas each year. But according to Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis, not all of Kentucky's students are graduating prepared. Only 65 percent of 2017 graduates met standards preparing them for college or a career.

A number of states have tied Medicaid coverage to work requirements. But legal challenges have followed — a sucessful attempt to stop the program in Kentucky, an ongoing lawsuit in Arkansas and possibly more to come.

kentucky kroger shooting
Timothy D. Easley / AP

The federal government will charge the man who killed two people in a Jeffersontown Kroger last month with three federal hate crimes.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the state’s “right-to-work” law, a measure that bans unionized companies from requiring workers to pay union dues.

Bourbon often takes center stage in Kentucky, but wine is vying to share the spotlight. Especially in far west Kentucky, where one of the state’s fastest-growing wineries is asking legislators to change regulations that owners say are stifling business.

Fewer Kentucky children are living in poverty now compared to 2017. That’s according to the new Kentucky Youth Advocates County Data Book, which looks at 17 measures of child well-being. The percentage of children living in poverty improved in 93 out of 120 counties.

mitch mcconnell
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

After Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Election Day and made small gains in the Kentucky General Assembly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's "not happy" with how Republicans performed in suburban areas.

commons.wikimedia.org, available for use

Next week, a federal court in Louisville will hear arguments over a new Kentucky law that bans a common type of abortion procedure.

jeff hoover
Gage Skidmor / Wikimedia Commons

A lawyer for former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and two other Republican lawmakers made the case on Wednesday for sealing a former staffer’s testimony that she was sexually assaulted and harassed by the men.

Sixth District GOP Congressman Andy Barr held off a challenge by first time candidate Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot. The three-term U.S. Representative admits divisiveness in politics needs attention.

“We are a people, who rose from the rugged pioneer spirit which built this country. And there is no reason why Kentuckians can't lead a political and spiritual renewal to go along with our nation’s economic revival,” Barr said.

Barr thanked McGrath for stiff competition, saying it made him a better leader and better Congressman. For her part, McGrath promised to remain an active voice in Kentucky.

Pages