Frankfort Local News

State Senate Passes Bill Regulating PSE Medicine Use

A bill regulating the amount of certain cold medicines consumers can buy over the counter has passed the State Senate. The bill is intended to crack down on meth users, who use cold medicine to make the illegal drug.

Senate Bill 3 passed after an amendment raised the monthly pseudoephedrine allotment to seven point two grams per month—or the equivalent of two boxes of medicine. Previously the bill had been prescription only, then limited over-the-counter purchase to three point six grams a month.

Senator Robert Stivers was the bill’s main supporter. He says he wants tougher restrictions on PSE, but agreed to the compromise.

“I am not satisfied with the floor amendment. But I understand it is a reasoned compromise and that’s what this process is about,” Stivers says.

Frankfort Local News

Constable Bill Changed to Allow Local Options

Kentucky lawmakers are backing away from a measure that would eliminate the office of constable in every county.

Every county has an elected constable. But in the last year, many constables have been accused of being either unnecessary or corrupt.  Originally, Senate Bill 30 was a constitutional amendment to eliminate constables. But the bill was unlikely to pass due to a gentlemen’s agreement in the legislature that each chamber would only push one amendment each session.

The Senate is considering an amendment for expanded gambling and the House favors one to expand voting rights for past felons. So bill sponsor Julie Denton changed SB30 to a regular bill that would allow county governments to dictate the duties of constables.

This doesn’t affect whatever statutorily are their duties now, except that they, it would be local governments’ decision to what of those duties, they would actually have and utilize,” she says. 

Kentucky Association of Counties attorney Rich Ornstein supports the change. 

“They can not put additional duties beyond what the statues already allow,” he says. “But it could take some of the responsibilities and duties away.”

The measure would not allow county governments to strip constables of all power. But it would allow counties to pay more and assign more responsibilities. That could inspire former police officers or more qualified candidates to run for constable, and eliminate issues surrounding unqualified or corrupt officials.

Local News Politics

Balanced Budget Amendment Resolution Unlikely to Lead to Federal Action

The Kentucky Senate passed a resolution Tuesday calling for a constitutional convention on a balanced federal budget amendment. The vote was strictly along party lines, with one exception.

If Congress refuses to act on a constitutional amendment favored by the states, the states can force a constitutional convention. It’s never happened before, but U.S. Senator Rand Paul says it’s time, because Congress refuses to approve a balanced budget amendment.

“If we do nothing with spending, within a decade entitlements and interest occupy the whole budget. Think about that. The whole budget! No money for defense. No money for roads. No money for education. No money for anything if we don’t reform the system,” he says.

After listening to Senator Paul’s comments on the Senate floor, 22 Republicans joined the call for a constitutional convention. But Republican Senator Julie Denton joined the chamber’s 15 Democrats in opposing the resolution.

“I do have some concerns, as to what this could mutate into,” she said. “Congress now has the ability to limit its spending and it has chosen not to and I do have concerns about where this would go.  It’s going to pass anyway, but I doubt that it’ll pass in the House.  So I don’t know that it much matters, but I vote no.”

Two-thirds of the states pass similar resolutions to force congress to act. To date, at least 22 states have done so, but each state’s resolution is worded differently.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Legislators, Arts Groups Recognize Arts Day

Today arts groups, arts advocates and legislators celebrated Kentucky Arts Day in Frankfort. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The day began with the Kentucky Arts Council hosting legislators and arts groups from their districts who had received state grants. It comes during a session when legislators will consider further cuts to the Kentucky Art Council’s budget.

Despite the circumstances, State Senator Julie Denton of Louisville (Republican) says there’s still a lot of support for the art in the General Assembly.

“Many of us understand and appreciate the impact that they have on us not just individually, but economically,” Denton says. “And so I don’t think we can leave them hanging out in the wind. I think we have to be very sensitive to that and, at the same time, knowing we have to balance a budget.”

The day comes after the recession has already helped to reduce the council’s budget by 24 percent and state government is consider further cuts to the agency.

State Senator Tom Buford of Nicholasville (Republican) says the arts council’s now operating with a bare-bones financing.

“It’s very minimal now,” he says. “And we’ve lost ground on our financial sides of it. But we have picked up, I think, with philanthropists and people who want to help out, those who have some wealth.”

In the most recent round of grants, the council awarded more then $1.8 million to nearly 90 non-profit arts and cultural groups.

State Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville (Democrat) says the arts and the council’s work are important to Kentucky.

“We have a lot of very difficult decisions we have to make and hopefully we won’t devastate the arts community with the cuts,” he says. “But it’s one of those things I don’t think there’s a great appreciation at least in the legislative bodies as there is, let’s say, in our communities of the importance of arts.”

Kentucky Arts Council staff say that this year’s Arts Day saw a much lower attendance due to the weather. Activities planned by the advocacy group Arts Kentucky were cancelled.