Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Meeks Beats Tea Party Candidate in State House Primary

State Representative Reginald Meeks thumped Tea Party challenger Wendy Caswell in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Meeks carried 80 percent of the vote in the race for the state House’s 42nd District seat, which covers parts of Old Louisville, downtown and the West End. Caswell is the founder and former president of the Louisville Tea Party, who said she has always been a registered Democrat.

Meeks said Caswell was a fraud and he pressured party leaders to file suit against her candidacy, though they never did.

No Republican is vying for the seat.

Frankfort Local News

Two Democrats Hope to Continue Trend Of Newer, Younger Faces in State House

Two 24-year-old Democrats from opposite ends of the Commonwealth hope to be the newest and youngest members of the General Assembly next year.

Kendrick Bryan is from Elizabethtown and hopes to unseat longtime lawmaker Jimmie Lee. Tyler Murphy is from Greenup County and is challenging state representative Tonya Pullin.

Bryan and Murphy’s bids for office come after a trio of young Republicans in their 20s successfully ran for the state House two years ago.

Both Bryan and Murphy say their desire to run comes from a willingness to change the longtime conversations in Frankfort. And Bryan says this year is just the start of a new, younger wave.

“I think you will definitely see a younger wave of individuals because voters are tired of the overspending and over-promising and the feuds. People want honest government,” Bryan says.

Both men said only a younger, newer generation can provide that honesty.

They’ve both been involved in politics for years—Murphy for nearly two decades in his local Democratic party and Bryan as the student body vice president at Western Kentucky University.

Candidates must be at least 24 years old to run for state representative. And while others have encouraged them to start with local office first, both men say they want to make an immediate difference where they say it matters: on the state level.

“You know again it’s our future that’s on the line,” Murphy says. “So I think that’s why a lot of young people are stepping up or getting more involved because we’re kind of concerned with the direction we are going and we realize that the same old approach isn’t cutting it anymore.”


Frankfort Local News

Williams Again Asks Beshear to Act on Road Plan

Kentucky Senate President David Williams is renewing his call for Governor Steve Beshear to act quickly on an unfunded road plan that cleared the legislature last week.

The road plan outlines the state’s transportation projects for the coming years. Beshear called lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session after they failed to approve funding for the latest plan. The Senate gaveled in the first day of the special session Monday afternoon, introducing four bills. The bills include: funding for the road plan; a new road plan in case Beshear vetoes the current one; a change to legislative pay; and a measure that cracks down on prescription pill abuse.

The House has introduced only two bills—the road plan funding and the pill bill.

In a floor speech on the Senate’s first day, Williams once again called on Beshear to either veto or sign the unfunded road plan so the legislature may react and adjourn by Friday.

Frankfort Local News

Kentucky’s Special Session Begins

Kentucky lawmakers have returned to the capitol for a special session, and it’s not clear how long they’ll remain in Frankfort to finish their work.

The House gaveled in at noon today and quickly filed two bills. One measure cracks down on prescription pill abuse and another funds the state road plan.

Neither measure cleared the General Assembly during the regular session this year. And House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber will work quickly to pass the bills.

“We’ll be through by Wednesday, I don’t, obviously we don’t know what the Senate is going to do, we’ll just have to wait and see what they do,” Stumbo says

Senate President David Williams says his chamber will not vote on either bill until the governor signs the unfunded road plan template both chambers passed last week.

Beshear has ten days to act on the measure. So if the Senate holds firm, lawmakers will stay in session until the middle of next week at a cost of $60,000 a day.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear, Williams Rivalry Could Influence November Legislative Elections

Kentucky lawmakers will begin a special session today that could become election fodder for legislative candidates on both sides of the aisle this fall.

This is the seventh straight year lawmakers have gone into special session, which costs the state sixty thousand dollars a day to fund. And Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams are locked in a stalemate over the state’s road plan template.

Williams wants Beshear to sign the template before his chamber passes the funding bill to go with it. This also would force lawmakers to be in special session at least seven days, instead of the minimum of five.

Beshear says he won’t sign the template until he’s reviewed it and has threatened to hit the campaign trail again if Williams delays.

“The Senate can stay here as long as it wants, but I can tell you this, if they stay here longer than the minimum amount of days just in order to put money in their pockets or to play political games, the people of this state this fall when elections roll around I think will let them know just how the feel about that,” Beshear says.

Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Return for Special Session

Kentucky lawmakers are returning to Frankfort today to begin a special session called by Governor Steve Beshear.

Beshear has ordered lawmakers to take up a funding bill for the state’s road plan and one addressing prescription pill abuse. Those were the two major bills that died in the final hours of the 2012 regular session last week.

Beshear says passing those bills should only take lawmakers five days.

“And I’m going to be asking House leaders to introduce those identical bills on Monday right after they get in here and there’s no reason why they can’t get out of here by Friday because that’s the minimum numbers of days it takes to pass legislation,” he says

But the special session may go longer because Senate President David Williams has said his body won’t pass the road funding bill until Beshear signs the road plan template.

And if Beshear takes all 10 of his allotted veto days for the bill, the special session could last two weeks, at a cost of $60,000 a day.

Frankfort Local News

Coal Scholarship, Dropout Bills Won’t Be Added to Special Session Agenda

An education proposal favored by Kentucky House leadership will not be included in next week’s special session, effectively killing its chances this year.

A bill that began as a measure to bring the University of Pikeville into the state system morphed into one that would have created scholarships for college students from coal counties.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo was a major supporter of the legislation. He says even though the proposal had been changed multiple times, both chambers had reached a compromise. Despite that deal, the Senate did not pass the bill before adjourning the regular session for the year.

Governor Steve Beshear says he won’t add that bill to the special session’s agenda, to avoid prolonging the session.

“You know, we will take a look at whether we should add anything else to this call. But, these special sessions cost taxpayer’s $60,000 a day. We have agreement on these two bills. And I want them in here and out of here in five days and I think every Kentuckian wants the same. And so I don’t want to put anything on the call that might lengthen the special session,” he says.

Another bill that won’t be reconsidered is Beshear’s proposal to raise Kentucky’s drop out age to 18 years old. The special session’s agenda will include legislation to curb prescription drug abuse and a bill to fund the state’s road plan.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear Continues to Blame Williams Over Deadlock

A blame game over important legislation leftover in the 2012 General Assembly is turning into a repeat of last year’s gubernatorial election.

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams are arguing over who is to blame for state lawmakers adjourning their regular session without passing key bills. A bill to crack down on Kentucky’s prescription drug abuse died in the final minutes of the session, and even though lawmakers passed a road plan, they neglected to pass the bill that funds the projects.

In announcing his call for a special session to deal with those two issues, Beshear had a litany of names for Williams. He called the Senate President selfish and greedy for not allowing the Senate to finish its work.

“He still thinks that it’s acceptable to push the state’s business to the 11thhour. To hold bills according to his personal whim and then when reasonable people don’t acquiesce to his wishes, to throw a temper tantrum and go home,” Beshear says.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear Says He’ll Call Special Session To Pass Road Revenue, Prescription Pill Bills

The 2012 legislative session has come to a close.

Lawmakers spent most of their final day of the session yesterday waiting to finalize action on several bills, including many that were never passed.

The bills that didn’t make it to governor Steve Beshear’s desk run the gamut, from a bill to tighten restrictions on prescription painkillers to one that would have created a new scholarship for college students in coalfields communities.

Lawmakers did pass the two-year and six-year road plans, but apparently forgot to pass the funding bill needed to build the listed projects.

They also did not override any of the vetoes Governor Steve Beshear made to the executive budget.

Governor Beshear is blaming Republican Senate President David Williams for the last-minute death of key legislation. Beshear says he will issue a call for lawmakers to return for a special session on Monday. That will give them another chance to address road plan funding and the prescription pill bill.

Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Reach Deal on Road Plan, But Don’t Pass Funding Mechanism

Kentucky lawmakers have  reached a late night agreement on a road plan.

The House and the Senate finally compromised on two-year and six-year road plans early this morning.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the impasse was finally broken at about the same time the budget conference committee passed their compromise two weeks ago.

“3 o’ clock seems to be the magic hour. 3 o’ clock in the morning seems to become the magic hour around here,” Stumbo says.

The plan covers the Transportation Cabinet budget and includes projects in all 120 counties.  But the biggest compromise seems to be on the Ohio River Bridges project, which will be funded fully by highway funds, not bonds like the Senate had proposed.