Frankfort Local News

Stumbo In Favor of Senate Bill That Would Change Redistricting

A change in the way lawmakers draw redistricting lines is likely to end up in front of voters this fall.

Senate Bill 18 would give legislators more direction in how to split counties during  redistricting, as well as require them to follow federal law. It would throw decades of past state precedent out the window.

The bill is partly a response to this year’s redistricting lawsuit, in which the state Supreme Court threw out new maps.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports the change and says it will likely pass both chambers this session.

“To embrace that concept in this session would effectively have been a de facto admission there was a problem. Well now that the court’s already ruled and we know that we do have a problem I think it’s proper in going forward and addressing the issue,” he says.

If voters pass the constitutional amendment, the new rules will be in effect immediately, which will allow lawmakers to use those rules when they try legislative redistricting again in 2013.

Frankfort Local News

House Passes Prescription Pill Bill, Hopes to Hatch a Compromise With Senate Version

A bill aimed at strengthening  prescription pill tracking  to crack down on abuse has cleared the Kentucky House.

The measure  is one of the chief priorities of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, whose work on the issue dates back to his time as attorney general.

House Bill 4 would move the KASPER pill tracking system to the attorney general’s office permanently, which is the key part of what Stumbo calls landmark legislation.

“KASPER is a law enforcement tool and by moving the oversight to the Attorney General’s office I think what will occur is that there will be a more rapid response by all of the entities involved in not only in the regulation but the investigation of these types of matters,” Stumbo said.

Frankfort Local News

House Passes Budget Bills, Which Now Head to the Senate

Two year budgets for all three branches of state government have now passed one chamber of the Kentucky General Assembly.

The House spent more than an hour debating the details of the executive, legislative and judicial budgets before easily passing all three.

They also passed a bill creating a tax amnesty program that Governor Steve Beshear requested.

The House did slightly change Beshear’s original executive budget. And lawmakers also cut the legislative and judicial budgets by eight point four percent.

House Budget Chairman Rick Rand says the budget passed isn’t one to brag about, but helps the government maintain important functions.

Frankfort Local News

Stumbo says Senate PSE Bill Will Likely Remain Intact If It Passes

A proposal that limits the amount of pseudoephedrine consumers can buy in a month could make it out the state House of Representatives intact.

The Senate passed a bill last week that would limit consumers to seven point two grams of pseudoephedrine every month, or roughly two boxes of cold medicine.

Now, the bill has arrived in the House. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports stricter legislation that would make PSE available by prescription only to crack down on meth abuse. But that proposal doesn’t have any hope of passing the Senate, so Stumbo says he hopes his chamber will pass the Senate’s bill.

“I hope so. I mean I prefer a stronger version, but it’s obvious the Senate had problems with it. I expect that we’ll run into some difficulties over here, but we’ll give it our best shot,” he says.

Frankfort Local News

UPIKE Compromise Includes New Scholarship Fund

Lawmakers have reached a compromise on a proposal to create more educational opportunities in eastern Kentucky.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has been advocating to move the University of Pikeville into the state university system. But that proposal doesn’t currently have the support to become reality, which forces supporters to adopt a compromise.

That compromise would set up a scholarship for up to six thousand dollars a year from multi-county coal severance tax funds. The funds would be available for juniors and seniors in 16 counties to attend private colleges–like UPIKE.

But the scholarship would not force recipients to stay in that region after graduation.

Frankfort Local News

House Judiciary Committee Passes Two Bills That Would Overhaul Drug Enforcement

The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee has overwhelmingly passed two bills to overhaul the state’s fight against drugs.

One bill deals with synthetic drugs. It would ban the manufacture of any drug that simulates an illegal substance or that contains certain chemical compounds.

The second bill is an overhaul of the KASPER system, which monitors prescription drugs. The bill puts KASPER under the Attorney General’s office and requires the board of medical licensure to crack down on reports that prescriptions are being over prescribed.

Frankfort Local News Politics

Stumbo Says Budget Modifications Will Be Minor

The leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives says his chamber will make few changes to Governor Steve Beshear’s budget.

Beshear released his two-year budget plan earlier this year. It calls for cuts of more than eight percent to most state agencies. And it includes roughly six percent cuts for higher education.

House leadership has been reviewing the plan for the last few days. Speaker Greg Stumbo says they plan to pass it off to the Senate by the beginning of March.

“[There are going to] be some changes, but I don’t think those changes will be major,” says Speaker Greg Stumbo. “I think it’s likely that you’ll see us try to bring everyone up to parity as far as the level of cuts go. And that may mean that we can’t expand some of the new programs even though we agree with them.”

Stumbo says there will be some minor modifications. For instance, the House may balance cuts to agencies. That could mean that some programs Beshear expanded in the budget will be left out. 

Stumbo says the House will pass a modified budget and send it to the state Senate by early March. 

Frankfort Local News

Legislative Leaders Say They Won’t Draw New Maps This Session

Legislative leaders in Kentucky say the issue of redistricting is over for the current session.

Lawmakers drew new maps of their districts earlier this year to reflect the latest census data. But the state Supreme Court ruled that the maps were unconstitutional and threw them out.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says there’s no need to redraw maps this year because,after this November, there are no legislative elections until 2014.

“You can do it in 2013. As long as it falls before the next election cycle. I think that’s what the court’s saying,” he says.

Candidates for the General Assembly this year will run in the districts that were drawn in 2002.

Senate President David Williams released a statement after the court’s ruling last week saying he was fine with his chamber using those previously-drawn districts for this election cycle.

Stumbo says the wait is not without precedent, saying the legislature did not take up redistricting in the 1980s until 1983. He says lawmakers may try to redraw the Supreme Court districts before April, but those talks are preliminary.

Frankfort Local News

Stumbo Pushes Back on UPIKE Detractors

The leaders of a movement to bring the University of Pikeville into the state college system made their case to the House Education Committee today.

There was little new information revealed in the hearing, but it gave lawmakers a first-hand account of how the move would work.

It also allowed proponents a chance to strike back at detractors. Many lawmakers affiliated with Morehead State University have spoken out against the UPIKE move, and so has Morehead State President Wayne Andrews.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a main supporter of the UPIKE move, told the committee such concerns are unfounded.

Frankfort Local News

UPIKE Bill Set for Hearing in House Education Committee

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the plan to make the University of Pikeville the ninth state university will not be derailed by the hectic session.

Stumbo is the main legislative supporter of the measure. And he says despite redistricting, expanded gambling legislation and other barriers or distractions, his bill will continue moving forward.

The latest step is a hearing today in the House Education Committee.

“And I think once people start hearing the facts on it, you know it’s one of those issues that make a lot of sense,” Stumbo says. “There’s a need there and the funding mechanism’s there.”

The proposal would move UPIKE into the state system using $13 million in coal severance tax funds. The tax is collected from companies that dig up coal or other natural resources in Kentucky, and some of the funds are distributed to the counties where the mining occurs.