Frankfort Local News

Beshear Signs Prescription Pill Bill Into Law

Kentucky lawmakers and Governor Steve Beshear are applauding the passage of a bill aimed at reducing prescription pill abuse.

Beshear signed the pill bill today, inviting key legislators and law enforcement officers to take part in the ceremony.

The new law isn’t as tough as some had hoped. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says changes can always be made later.

“And I would have obviously preferred something stronger, but it is a step in the right direction and if it doesn’t work we can always come back and do something to amend it later,” Stumbo says.

Frankfort Local News

Rx Pill Bill Delayed as Senate Takes a Second Look

A bill aimed at cracking down on prescription pill abuse could be stalled once again in the Kentucky Senate.

Senate leaders say they are still reviewing the bill, which would enhance the KASPER tracking system and make it part of the attorney general’s office.

The chamber is taking an extra day to look over the bill and has scheduled a committee meeting for tomorrow, what was supposed to be the last day of the special session.

Senator Robert Stivers says he has questions about how the bill is different from the measure lawmakers nearly voted on during the regular session.

Frankfort Local News

House Passes Special Session Pill Bill, Road Plan Funding

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed both bills on its agenda for this year’s special session.

House lawmakers approved both the road plan funding bill and a measure to crack down on prescription pill abuse today by wide margins.

The more contentious of the two bills was the prescription pill legislation. The House and Senate reached a compromise at the end of the regular session, but the House chose to introduce the original and tougher form for the special session.

The bill is opposed by the Kentucky Medical Association, which says the restrictions are too tough. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the KMA doesn’t speak for all doctors on this issue.

“We have the vast majority of doctors and nurses and dentists and practitioners across the state who want to see this type of legislation pass because they want to be part of the solution,” Stumbo says.

Frankfort Local News

Return of Original Rx Pill Bill Starts a New Fight Over the Issue

A change to the so-called pill bill in Frankfort has restarted the fight over the measure in the General Assembly.

Prescription abuse is rampant in Kentucky, and the bill strengthens restrictions on the drugs and who can sell them. The measure didn’t clear the General Assembly during this year’s regular session, and lawmakers have been called in for a special session to reconsider the legislation.

The House has decided to return the bill to its original form and ignore the last-minute compromise that was left on the table at the end of the regular session.

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

Stumbo Says House Won’t Override Budget Vetoes, Giving Beshear the Final Word

Governor Steve Beshear’s 45 vetoes to the executive branch budget will remain intact.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the House Democratic caucus chose not to override any vetoes, despite the objections of individual lawmakers.

“But collectively as a body the caucus chose to support the governor’s decisions to veto. He gave a very good presentation and the will of the body speaks,” Stumbo says.

Beshear line item vetoed many individual projects that lawmakers added to the executive branch budget. He also vetoed the Senate’s preferred language that would have required an additional 80 million dollars in cuts.

Because the House will not override, any action taken by the Senate is moot since it takes both chambers to override gubernatorial vetoes.

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.

Frankfort Local News

Future of Coal County Scholarship Program Uncertain

A bill to create a scholarship fund to help students from coal mining counties in Kentucky finish their education is once again in limbo.

House Bill 260 would create a fund to give scholarships to college juniors and seniors who finish their degrees at schools in coal-producing counties.

The program was originally meant only for students from eastern Kentucky, but it was expanded to apply to students from all 38 mining counties in the state.

The updated bill didn’t pass before lawmakers adjourned for a veto recess last week, leaving only one day for both chambers to approve the measure. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s not sure why the Senate didn’t vote on the bill.

“Well some of us would like to see House Bill 260 come on down, you know as far as I know that one is an agreed to bill. I don’t know if they’re holding it because they think they can use it for leverage for something up here,” he says.

Senator Robert Stivers says his chamber didn’t intentionally ignore the bill. It simply got lost in the last-minute shuffle to pass a budget last week. 

When we return on the 12th, we will take that up,” he says, referring to the final legislative day this year, when lawmakers meet to override gubernatorial vetoes. 

Frankfort Local News

Prescription Pill Bill Will Be Voted on After Veto Recess

Confusion and last-minute lobbying have potentially derailed what some Kentucky lawmakers considered the hallmark of the current legislative session.

House Bill 4 is better known as the prescription pill bill. It’s centerpiece is the transfer of the KASPER drug tracking system to the attorney general’s office.

Late last week, it appeared lawmakers had struck a last-minute deal to pass the bill before this week’s recess. But confusion about which amended version of HB4 was up for a vote mired them in procedural minutiae.

Eventually, legislators decided to give up on the compromise until they come back to Frankfort for their last legislative day on April 12.

“Some people wanted to read through it. And after a week of 3 o clock mornings and things of that nature and the text of the respective things that have gone through today, people were actually tired and desirous of getting back home on the weekend and to their families and children and friends,” says Senator Robert Stivers.

Frankfort Local News

Road Plan Vote Delayed to Last Day of Session

Kentucky lawmakers are unlikely to approve new two-year and six-year road plans in time to override any gubernatorial vetoes.

The conference committee working on the plans did not come to a compromise late last night, significantly decreasing the potential for a deal today.

The plans fund many projects, including the widening of Interstate 65, the expansion of the Mountain Parkway and portions of the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville.

“Score on the road plan is you gotta wait until probably the 12th or 13th of April on that one,” says House Speaker Greg Stumbo, adding that the plans will be taken up on the last day of the session or they won’t pass at all.

Senate leaders agreed. If they cannot come up with a deal by then, it will mean no funds will be available for road projects for the next two years. If the bills pass in two weeks, the governor will be able to veto individual items in the plans without fear of a legislative override.