A new report says Kentucky has the highest percentage of children in the nation who have had a parent in jail – a situation so detrimental that a child advocate compares it to abuse

LOUISVILLE – A new report says Kentucky has the highest percentage of children in the nation who have had a parent in jail – a situation so detrimental that a child advocate compares it to abuse.

Citing a report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville reports that 13 percent of Kentucky children – 135,000 – reported in 2011-12 that they had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. That percentage is nearly double the national average of 7 percent.

Nationwide, about 5.1 million children have experienced parental incarceration, according to the report, “A Shared Sentence,” co-released by Kentucky Youth Advocates, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization. Indiana had 177,000 such children, the report says.

Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks said parental incarceration exacts a devastating toll on families and society at large by creating an “unstable environment” for children, with the effects being long-lasting.

“Having a parent incarcerated is a stressful, traumatic experience of the same magnitude as abuse, domestic violence and divorce,” the report said.

Brooks hopes the report’s findings bring attention to the issue.

“Policy debates about incarceration rarely focus on the impact on children,” Brooks said. “You can’t ignore a 13-percent-of-the-population problem.”

The report uses data from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, the latest available.

Since that survey took place, Kentucky has enacted numerous criminal justice reforms in order to curb the growth of a prison population that had been increasing four times faster than the national average. The reforms included an expansion of alternative sentencing for nonviolent crimes.

John Tilley, secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet who helped push those changes as a legislator, said they have helped level off the increase that some predicted could have reached 27,000 by 2015.

Still, the prison population in the state has continued to grow.

State jails and prisons held about 22,700 people in April, compared to 21,500 in April 2012.


Kentucky comes up short of falling in line with current mainstream Cannabis reform – once again

April 17, 2016

Sheree Krider  



Kratom 2016



The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2016 regular session ended on Friday, April 15 and once again the people’s requests were ignored.

There were a total of five Cannabis and Hemp Bills introduced into this Legislature and not one of them made it.

Here is the short list of them:

March 2, 2016

Senate Bill 262 is AN ACT relating to industrial hempSen. Perry Clark

Friday, March 4, 2016 – to Agriculture (S), Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – introduced in Senate


Senate Bill 263 is AN ACT relating to medical cannabisSen. Perry Clark

Friday, March 4, 2016 – to Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations (S), Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – introduced in Senate


March 1, 2016 –

HB 584(BR-1994) by Representative Denver Butler, “medical marijuana” .

Mar 01, 2016 – introduced in House, Mar 02, 2016 – to Health & Welfare (H)


February 25, 2016

HR 173  A “Resolution” to the FDA to “study medical marijuana”, the Sponsors are David Osborne, Lynn Bechler, and Brad Montell.

Monday, February 29, 2016 – to Health & Welfare (H), Thursday, February 25, 2016 – introduced in House


January 6, 2016 – introduced in Senate by Sen. Perry Clark – This was the “Cannabis Freedom Bill” (This Bill was “pre-filed” in December of 2015)!

SB 13(BR-161)/LM/CI

Jan 06, 2016 – introduced in Senate, Jan 07, 2016 – to Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations (S)


As early as January 28th they were already reporting that Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky,

so they KNEW beyond a doubt that they would not take any action on the Cannabis Bills as early as January!

At least Hundreds, maybe thousands of concerned Kentuckians made their way to the Capitol of Frankfort, Kentucky this year to attempt to

impress upon our Legislators just how important the “Cannabis” Bills were, yet I can count on one hand the number of Representatives

in Kentucky that stepped up. 

Louisville, KY’s Sen. Perry Clark is a “stand up” Legislator for the People and he definitely did his homework correctly.  I cannot see one thing

that he could have done differently to persuade a different outcome.  Please send him a note of THANKS for everything he has done this year!

Not only could the Representatives not find time to take up the Cannabis issue, but they MADE TIME to take up the issue of moving “Kratom”,

which is another herbal plant, not a “spice” type of drug, to Schedule I in Kentucky taking yet another plant away from the people via “legislation”.

THIS Bill was introduced by W. Westerfield.  Be sure to send him a note and let him know how much we appreciate him stealing our plants!

Kentucky is a corrupt State.  That’s it and that’s that.

Once again, Kentucky will remain last on the list, at least for now.  But it is not for lack of trying to climb up and out of this corruption, by the people who have stood up and asked to be counted!  It is,

as usual, the Kentucky Government as it exists today and has existed for many years.

There is always next year, and there will be a new President in the White House by that time.  As well, there will be new Legislators in Kentucky.

All we can do is to set our sites on next year, and say a prayer.


The Legislators can expect to have a LARGER crowd in Frankfort in 2017, expecting them to stand up and do the RIGHT thing!


Kentucky General Assembly’s 2016 session ends

Due to technical difficulties, this news release didn’t reach all of our subscribers last night. Apologies if you’ve already received it. — RW

For Immediate Release

April 16, 2016

Kentucky General Assembly’s 2016 session ends

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2016 regular session ended on Friday, April 15, shortly before midnight, capping off a session in which lawmakers approved the state’s next two-year budget and numerous other measures that will impact people throughout the state.

Most new laws – those that come from legislation that don’t contain emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect in mid-July.

A partial list of bills approved this year by the General Assembly include measures on the following topics:

Autism. Senate Bill 185 made permanent the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders (established in 2013) and the state Office of Autism (created in 2014). The bodies will continue to ensure there aren’t gaps in providing services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

Booking photos. Under House Bill 132, websites or publications that use jail booking photographs for profit could face stiff court-ordered damages. The new law makes it illegal to post booking photos to a website or include them in a publication, then require payment to remove them from public view. Damages start at $100 a day for each separate offense, along with attorney fees.

Budget. House Bill 303 will guide $21 billion worth of state spending over the next two fiscal years. The two-year state budget plan is aimed at creating savings in many areas and using more revenue to shore up public pension systems. The budget will pour $1.28 billion into the state pension systems and make no cuts to K-12 education while authorizing the governor’s plan to cut most state agency funding by nine percent over the biennium. State spending will decrease by 4.5 percent for most public colleges and universities.

Chemical munitions disposal. House Bill 106 addresses the acute and chronic health effects of exposure to compounds used in chemical munitions. It requires that after the compounds in the weapons are treated to Energy and Environment standards, the byproducts be reclassified to ensure proper management and disposal.

Children locked in cars. Senate Bill 16 protects prospective rescuers from being sued for any property damage caused in pursuit of saving the life of a child left in a locked vehicle.

Child safety. House Bill 148 allows child daycare centers to receive prescriptions for EpiPen injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions while also giving parents more time to legally surrender their newborn under the state’s safe harbor laws. The bill amended Kentucky’s Safe Infants Act by giving parents up to 30 days to surrender their child at a state-approved safe place, instead of the previous standard of three days.

CPR in schools. Senate Bill 33 requires high school students be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation, taught by an emergency medical professional. The life-saving measure would is to be taught as part of the students’ physical education or health class, or as part of ROTC training.

Distilleries and craft brewers. Senate Bill 11 modernizes the state’s 1930s-era alcohol regulations to aid new interest in bourbon, craft beer and small-farm wine products. Among other provisions, SB 11 allows malt beverages to be sold at festivals and drinking on quadricycles (better known as “party bikes”), and permits bed and breakfasts to sell liquor by the drink. It also raises limits for on-site sales at distilleries from three liters to nine liters.

Drunken Driving. Senate Bill 56 will help increase felony convictions for DUI in Kentucky by allowing the courts to look at 10 years of prior convictions instead of five years. Kentucky law requires those convicted of a fourth offense DUI within five years to be charged with a felony. The clock for determining penalties for offenders is reset after five years under current law. Senate Bill 56 will extend that so-called “look-back” period to 10 years to allow more habitual offenders to face stiffer penalties like felony charges.

Election regulations. Senate Bill 169, which became law without the governor’s signature, changed several election-centered statutes. Among them, it directed county clerks to redact voters’ Social Security numbers before allowing the public to review voter rolls, and loosened restrictions on electioneering from 300feet to 11 feet around polling sites. The law also expanded means of voter identification to include any county, state or federally issued ID.

Felony expungement. Under House Bill 40, Kentuckians convicted of low-level felonies can ask the court to permanently seal—or expunge—their records. The new law allows those convicted of Class D felonies, or those who were charged but not formally indicted, to seek expungement after they have completed their sentence or probation. Sex crimes and crimes against children would not be included in the law.

Harassing telecommunications. House Bill 162 includes electronic communication, if it’s done with intent to intimidate, harass, annoy or alarm another person, to current harassment statutes. Electronic harassment would be a Class B misdemeanor.

Helping the disabled. Designed to allow Kentuckians with disabilities to set up savings accounts for disability-related expenses, Senate Bill 179 allows them to save money in an ABLE account for those expenses without it being taxed, generally. It would also not count against Medicaid and other federal means-based benefits.

Informed consent law. The first bill delivered to the governor’s desk was Senate Bill 4, which requires an in-person or real-time video conference between a woman seeking an abortion and a health care provider at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Juvenile court transparency. Senate Bill 40 permits some family court judges to hold public hearings. The new law allows a handful of courts to hold the open hearings as a pilot project. Judges could volunteer their courts for the program, and close proceedings as necessary.

Local government. House Bill 189 makes it easier for local entities – like cities, police and fire departments – to share services. HB 189 sets procedures for amending interlocal agreements without the lengthy process of having to seek approval from the state Attorney General or the Department for Local Government.

Medicaid appeals. Senate Bill 20 gives medical providers access to independent appeals of denied Medicaid claims. Under the new law, the decision of the third-party reviewer could then be appealed to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, where the decision of an administrative hearing tribunal would be the last step before judicial review.

Noah’s Law. Senate Bill 193, also known as “Noah’s Law” for a 9-year-old Pike County boy, extends health insurance coverage to include expensive amino acid-based elemental formula, needed by some children with gastric disorders and food allergies.

Off-duty conceal and carry. House Bill 314 allows current and retired peace officers to carry concealed firearms at any location where current, on-duty officers can carry guns.

Outdoor recreation. Zip lines and other outdoor recreation will be safer, as House Bill 38 became law. The new law directs the state to set standards for the use and operation of zip lines and canopy tours.

Pension oversight. House Bill 271 requires all state-administered retirement systems to report specific information on their members or members’ beneficiaries to the state Public Pension Oversight Board each fiscal year. The information is to be used by the board to plan for future expenses and recommend changes to keep the retirement systems solvent.

Permanent Fund. House Bill 238 creates the “permanent fund” for public pensions funded in the Executive Branch budget bill, or HB 303. It also sets out specific requirements for public pension system reporting, including the requirement that an actuarial audit be performed on the state-administered retirement systems once every five years.

Petroleum tanks. House Bill 187 extends the period of the Petroleum Storage Tank Environmental Assistance Fund to aid in the safe removal of old underground gas and oil tanks. The bill moved back the end date to participate in the program to 2021, from 2016, and the date to perform corrective actions from 2019 to 2024. It also extended a program for small operators by five years, to 2021.

Public private partnerships. House Bill 309, which allows government and private entities to enter into public-private partnerships – known as P3s – to fund Kentucky’s major infrastructure needs. The new law provides a framework for P3s as an alternative financing method for major public projects, including transportation projects.

Sexual assault investigations. Aimed at eliminating a backlog of sexual assault examination kits, Senate Bill 63 establishes new policies and procedures for handling evidence. SB 63 requires police to pick up sexual assault kits from hospitals within five days’ notice, submit evidence to the state crime lab within 30 days, prohibit the destruction of any kits and notify victims of the progress and results of the tests. The new law also requires the average completion date for kits tested not to exceed 90 days by July 2018 and 60 days by July 2020.

Stopping dog fights. House Bill 428 makes it a felony to possess, breed, sell or otherwise handle dogs for the purpose of dog fighting. The bill also defines dog fighting, and allows people who intentionally own, possess, breed, train, sell or transfer dogs for dog fighting to be charged with first-degree cruelty to animals, a Class D felony. In effect, it makes it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

Vulnerable victims. Senate Bill 60 creates a new section of KRS Chapter 501, defining an “offense against a vulnerable victim” and creating a mechanism for charging someone with the commission of an offense against a victim who is under the age of 14, has an intellectual disability, or is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.

Water resource protection. House Bill 529 created the Kentucky Water Resources Board to research current water resources in the Commonwealth, identify new available resources and examine efficiencies, especially to support farming. The new 11-member board includes officials from state interior and agriculture departments along with six gubernatorial appointees.


Additional Links:  (SOURCE)

Became Law Without Governor’s Signature: SB169, 188, 195, 225;
HB38, 111, 115, 497, 499, 529;
Signed By Governor: SB4, 11, 16, 17, 19, 20, 33, 40, 43, 46, 54, 56, 58, 60, 63, 64, 74, 84, 90, 97, 103, 113, 114, 117, 118, 120, 122, 128, 129, 134, 140, 141, 154, 155, 167, 168, 170, 174, 178, 179, 182, 185, 186, 193, 203, 206, 209, 211, 214, 216, 217, 228, 230, 238, 242, 249, 256, 269, 293;
SCR9, 135;
HB16, 40, 52, 83, 87, 95, 100, 106, 124, 132, 148, 149, 153, 162, 175, 183, 184, 187, 189, 204, 208, 216, 237, 250, 261, 271, 272, 276, 281, 309, 314, 340, 343, 352, 354, 381, 382, 402, 420, 422, 428, 431, 434, 473, 487, 489, 527, 535, 562, 563, 570, 585;
HCR13, 117, 139, 187;
HJR5, 152, 164, 197

Eric and Michelle Crawford have been pestering the politicians in Frankfort for three years now in their efforts to have medical marijuana legalized. "From homebodies to activists – couple continues fight for medical marijuana" (in Kentucky)

  • MARLA TONCRAY marla.toncray@lee.net
  • Apr 5, 2016



    ORANGEBURGEric and Michelle Crawford have been pestering the politicians in Frankfort for three years now in their efforts to have medical marijuana legalized.

    They have traveled across the state to speak at town hall meetings on the subject; they attended the Fancy Farm (political) Picnic in August; and they try to get to Frankfort when the General Assembly is in session at least once a week, if Eric’s health permits. 

    The expenses, as Michelle pointed out Tuesday during an interview at their Mason County home, are all paid for with Eric’s money.

    In 2014, the couple aligned themselves with Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana to have medical marijuana legalized in Kentucky. Their efforts to date have resulted in the Cannabis Compassion Bill, being sent to the Licensing and Occupations committee. In the 2016 General Assembly session, Senate Bill 263 was introduced on the last day of the session, with no action taken.

    “It’s not about Eric anymore, there’s so many people that can benefit,” said Michelle. “The bill allows people to access marijuana, to grow it with a limit on the number of plants and to provide licenses to cultivate it and develop jobs.”

    Eric is a quadriplegic — his spine was injured in a 1994 car accident when he was 22 years old. He and Michelle met when he was in Cardinal Hill for rehabilitation. Since then, they have been inseparable, with Michelle devoting her life to Eric as his mate, caregiver and champion of his needs. 

    The couple kept their lives as private as possible, until September 2013, when a set of extenuating circumstances put their lives into the court system. It was then they decided to go public and fight for Eric’s right to have relief from his health problems through medical marijuana.

    “We are fighting for whole plant medical cannabis,” Michelle said Tuesday, stressing the fact they are not trying to have recreational marijuana legalized.

    In January 2014, Eric was taking 16 prescriptions for a wide variety of ailments: pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, optical uveitis, antibiotics to stave off urinary tract infections, auto-immune disorder, acid reflux and eye drops for glaucoma, just to name a few.

    Since they started their campaign, they have educated themselves on the benefits of medical cannabis.  Eric can tell you people are born with what are called CBD1 (nervous system) and CBD2 (organs) receptors, which are stimulated by the right type of cannabis. According to Eric, there are two strains of medical marijuana, Indica and Sativa, one helps a person sleep, the other helps them stay awake.

    “People who need cannabis know which strain they need. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis, one has THC and one doesn’t,” Eric said.

    Legal CBD hemp oils, several of which are produced in Kentucky, are examples of products that can be used to offset the pain and spasms Eric has. The couple didn’t know that before, but now have supplies at home; one oil is made specifically for the popular electronic cigarettes.

    “Your brain already has CBD1 and CBD2 receptors, CBDs (hemp oils) affect the receptors,” Eric said.

    He said the affect from these products isn’t a “high” that most people associate with marijuana. 

    It should be noted Eric is now off most of his medications, and he dislikes taking prescribed pain killers.

    The couple is frustrated that action hasn’t been taken in Frankfort to legalize medical marijuana.  They feel the citizens of Mason County have been betrayed by legislators because there has been no acknowledgement in Frankfort of Mason County Resolution 14-2, approved in January 2014 by the fiscal court, supporting then Senate Bill 43 to legalize medical marijuana. That same bill is now SB 263, introduced this session and co-sponsored by State Senator Steve West, who represents Mason County.

    The couple also says they are afraid of law enforcement.

    “I’m scared of the law,” Eric said. The couple said they are constantly considering the idea of moving out-of-state so Eric can have medical marijuana, but they don’t want to leaver their home, family and friends.

    “I’m mad as hell … I’ve heard so many times “we’re going to do something” (from legislators). You walk out of the office, and you never hear from them again,” Eric said.

    The couple expressed frustration with State Senator John Schickel (R-Boone County), because he is a co-chair of the Licensing and Occupations interim committee and sits on the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations session committee.

    “This is the third year the bill has been sent to Sen. Schickel’s office, and it hasn’t been heard,” Eric said.  “It dies every year in the L&O.”

    Schickel was contacted for this story and immediately returned a call placed to his senate office Wednesday.

    Schickel said he had two marijuana bills presented to his committee this year, one for recreational and one for medical marijuana. He said the medical marijuana bill came to his office too late in the session to have it put before the L&O committee.

    “I told the sponsor we couldn’t have a hearing that late. I’ve always been open to medical marijuana,” he said. 

    He noted he was the first representative to sponsor the hemp bill before its passage.

    He also said he has committed to holding an interim hearing on the medical marijuana issue in either July or August. He said the purpose is to hear more of the science behind marijuana.

    “With a bill that important and that big, we have to proceed thoughtfully and carefully.  I want to hear from both sides of the issue,” Schickel said.

    He said in the past, the votes haven’t been there (at committee level) to pass the bill forward to the full Senate, noting “some people don’t think it’s a good thing,” and the American Medical Association doesn’t think the science (on the matter) is there.

    “I’m open to it. I’m not against it. I’ve given it a commitment…I will hold a hearing. It’s important. If the votes are there, we’ll pass it,” he said, adding he will encourage the sponsors to pre-file the bill for next year’s General Assembly.

    Calls to State Senator Steve West, the co-sponsor of SB 263, were not returned to The Ledger Independent.

    The Crawfords say there is enough documented science to support legalizing medical marijuana.

    “It’s not because High Times or pot smokers say it,” Michelle said.

    “Sick people should have a choice, I don’t want to go blind.  There’s no such thing as a safe drug, but there is a safer choice,” Eric said.


  • Geoff Young to start running 1st radio ad on April 2




    Media Release – For Immediate Release – March 28, 2016

    Lexington-Fayette County, KY

    Geoff Young, a Lexington Democrat who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Andy Barr (R-KY6), will start running his first radio ad of the Democratic primary campaign on April 2. The ad praises Bernie Sanders as a great potential President and condemns Hillary Clinton (D) and Andy Barr (R) for their ignorance of foreign and military policies and their warlike ideas.


    “Hello, my name is Geoff Young and I approve the following message:
    I’m a strong Democrat running against Andy Barr for the U.S. House of Representatives. For the last 37 years, I’ve been an expert in foreign and military policies. I’ve strongly opposed several strategic blunders by Washington such as the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Andy Barr is as ignorant about foreign policy as Cheney and Bush were.
    Here’s the good news: I can beat Andy Barr, and Bernie Sanders can beat Donald Trump in November. Here’s the bad news: Hillary Clinton is a certain loser against Trump because she is too warlike. Trump will crush Clinton because we are sick and tired of endless, unjust wars that make everything worse.
    Vote for two WINNERS on primary election day, May 17: Bernie Sanders for President and Geoff Young for Congress.
    Paid for by Geoff Young for Congress.”

    Dropbox URL if you wish to download it:

    For more details or an interview in any format, please contact:
    Geoff Young
    454 Kimberly Place
    Lexington, KY 40503
    Phone: (859) 278-4966
    Email address: energetic@windstream.net
    Campaign web site: young4ky.com

    Kentucky Senate Week in Review

    Senate Week in Review

    Submitted By Reginald L. Thomas

    FRANKFORT — What should be the state’s spending priorities for the next two fiscal years? Should Kentucky give felons a clearer path to having rights restored after they have fulfilled their sentences? Should public and private partnerships be formed to work together on large projects?

    Many of the big questions confronting our state were taken up and voted on in the Senate Chamber this week, the 12th week of the General Assembly’s 2016 session. As is typical in the home stretch of a legislative session, the number of bills moving through chambers and delivered to the governor’s desk continued to increase with each passing day.

    The Senate’s big issue of the week, though, was undoubtedly the state budget. No one is denying that the budget process is difficult because every decision affects real people across the state.  As we debated differences in the House and Senate budget proposals, I found that the cuts in the Senate Majority plan were too deep and could not support that plan.  

    As I said to my colleagues when I stood on the Senate floor on Wednesday to express my concerns, this budget shoots a hole in the city of Lexington and our growth will be stunted. The plan removed a provision for issuing $60 million in bonds for renovations to the Lexington Convention Center. The House’s plan proposed adopting a hotel and motel tax for funding the project – not use the general fund. Furthermore, the Senate’s plan mirrored the governor’s cuts to the University of Kentucky and other public education institutions. I could not, in good conscience, support this plan.

    At the time of this writing, members of the Senate and House are meeting in a conference committee to iron out differences in each chambers’ spending proposals. The goal is to craft a plan that both chambers can agree on before the veto recess. I am optimistic that we will find a solution that will protect education, shore up the state employee and teacher retirement plans, enhance the economic development of Lexington, and invest in our infrastructure, while looking out for our most vulnerable citizens. 

    In other business, the Senate approved a measure that would let voters decide on a proposed amendment to the state constitution regarding the restoration of rights to felons who have paid their debt to society. The measure, Senate Bill 299, would place a proposed amendment on this year’s November ballot that, if approved, would allow the General Assembly to set guidelines for restoring felon voting rights.

    Another major issue approved by the Senate this week concerns public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. House Bill 309 would establish oversight and a framework for the use of public-private partnerships as an alternative funding source for major projects. Among the safeguards set up by the bill is the requirement that state projects costing more than $25 million be approved by the General Assembly and the establishment of the Kentucky Local Government Public-Private Partnership Board to review P3 deals with local governments.

    Other bills that took steps forward in the Senate this week include:

    · Senate Bill 256 would allow high school students participating in basic training required by a branch of the United States Armed Forces to be considered present for all purposes for up to ten days.

    · Senate Bill 245 would bring Kentucky’s state ID program into compliance with federal standards. The legislation would make REAL ID-compliant state-issued identification available to Kentuckians. REAL ID is a federal program adopted in 2005 that would come close to establishing a national proof-of-identity program. By 2018, flyers from states that are not REAL ID compliant nor have an extension – or those individuals who do not choose to obtain an enhanced ID – will need a second form of identification to fly domestically. By 2020, all flyers will require enhanced identification.

    · House Bill 38 would require the state to set standards for the use and operation of aerial recreational facilities like outdoor ziplines and canopy tours. The legislation was drafted with input from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which would set the standards and regulate ziplines and related forms of entertainment. The department could rely on industry standards and third-party inspections when setting requirements, and could set fees to help administer those requirements. 

    · House Bill 115 would expand eligibility for screenings under the state’s Colon Cancer Screening Program to uninsured Kentuckians between the ages of 50-64 or uninsured persons deemed at high risk for the disease. Eligibility would be based on current American Cancer Society screening guidelines.

    · House Bill 59 would make it easier for those at risk of violence to shield their home addresses from people who could harm them.  The measure would allow people at risk of violence to apply for a substitute address without first obtaining a domestic violence order.  A sworn statement would suffice.    

    As a growing number of bills were moving through legislative chambers this week, others were being delivered to the governor’s office to be signed into law. Some of the legislation delivered to the governor included:

    · Senate Bill 43 would make the survivors of emergency medical services providers who are killed in the line of duty eligible for the state lump-sum death benefits. 

    · Senate Bill 63, the SAFE Act of 2016, would eliminate a backlog of more than 3,000 sexual assault examination kits dating back to the 1970s.  This is a step forward to give victims justice. 

    · Senate Bill 195 would extend state-paid survivor benefits to surviving family members of cancer-stricken firefighters by determining that some firefighters who succumb to certain types of cancers died as the result of an act performed in the line of duty.

    On Tuesday, we recognized the 75th anniversary of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps to become America’s first black military airmen, considered to be an experiment.  The Tuskegee Airmen protected freedom in more than 1,200 missions.  It was an honor to welcome these heroes to Frankfort, including Frank Weaver of Louisville who was an original Tuskegee Airmen and a World War II veteran. The Senate passed my Senate Resolution 188 honoring these brave airmen and adjourned the Senate in their honor.

    With only a few more working days remaining, the session is quickly winding down.  There is s still time, though, for important measures to become law. I encourage you to take this opportunity to have your voice heard in this legislative session.  You can leave me a message by calling the legislative message line at 800-372-7181 or e-mailing me at reginald.thomas@lrc.ky.gov.



    Prepared in part by LRC Public Information Office

    Kentucky Senate approves its version of state budget plan

    For Immediate Release

    March 23, 2016

    Senate approves its version of state budget plan

    FRANKFORT—The Senate passed a state budget proposal on Wednesday that restores many of the governor’s priorities for the next two years, including a “permanent fund” for future pension spending, cuts to secondary education funding and performance-based appropriations for college and universities.

    All in all, the Senate budget bill includes many of the cuts featured in the Gov. Matt Bevin’s January budget proposal, many of which didn’t survive the House budget plan passed last week.

    Still, Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, the Senate budget committee’s chairman, said it was a balanced effort. Not all the governor’s cuts were preserved.

    “The thing I’d say I’m most proud of is that this budget is structurally balanced,” he said. “We do adopt many of the governor’s recommendations for the budget stabilization plan throughout the course of this bill, but we take monstrous steps – historic steps – on maintaining stability and introducing responsibility in addressing the most pressing problem facing us.”

    That, he said, is the state pension program challenge, which has unfunded liabilities of more than $31 billion. To start reducing that figure, the Senate budget reinstituted many the governor’s cuts, including a 9 percent reduction in funding for Kentucky colleges and universities.

    The budget also resuscitated the governor’s proposal to switch that funding to a performance-based model, with a quarter of the state funding to be based on student retention, graduation rates and other metrics.

    The Senate removed from the spending plan a proposal from the House to establish a Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program, which would make tuition free for high school graduates who enroll in the state’s community colleges. The House budget funded scholarships to the tune of $13 million for the 2017 fiscal year and almost $20 million the following year.

    That was cut from the Senate budget, along with funding earmarked for specific projects like school renovations, the Lexington Convention Center and help for areas hit hard by a drop in the coal industry.

    The Senate budget passed with only two dissenting votes, while nine Senators passed on the bill.

    Sen. Denise Harper-Angel, D-Louisville, said she had reservations about cuts made by the budget, including $1.5 million to Court Appointed Children’s Advocates (CASA) programs, $15 million that was to renovate the Kentucky School for the Blind and $1 million a year to promote breast and cervical cancer screening for women.

    “I believe these cuts will adversely affect women, children, families and the disabled. For these reasons and more, I pass,” said Harper-Angel, before offering that she hopes the final budget will offer “better choices.”

    Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, one of two dissenting votes, admitted he was torn. He likes the effort to control the pension problem, but was disappointed in the removal of aide for stricken coal-producing areas.

    “I cannot go home this weekend without casting a vote to help bring some reasoning back into this discussion,” he said.

    The proposed budget did, however, include some spending not in the House budget, including $32 million in Justice Cabinet funding to fight heroin abuse – the House had reduced it to $20 million – and setting aside $250 million in the “permanent fund” for future pension fund payments. Gov. Bevin’s budget wanted the fund to include $500 million, while the House budget proposed using that money immediately on other expenditures.

    The budget is soon expected to land in a conference committee so that Senate and House members can iron out their differences in each of their preferred spending plans.


    Louisville judge sends defendant to prison because drug court ‘about to be eliminated’

    By Jason Riley


    LEAF2 800x800

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A Jefferson Circuit Court judge on Wednesday sent a defendant to prison instead of allowing her to get treatment in a local drug court, at least in part, he said, because drug court will soon no longer “be an option” in Kentucky.

    “It’s about to be eliminated,” Chief Jefferson Judge Charlie Cunningham said in a hearing. “We don’t really have the money for it, so I’m not going to put anybody in drug court knowing that in a couple months that it’s going to cease to exist.”

    Cunningham’s ruling came on the heels of testimony this week from Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton, who told legislators that proposed cuts to the court system will likely eliminate 600 jobs and shutter drug courts across the state, among other losses.

    “The whole future of Kentucky’s court system hangs in the balance, and I have to make that known,” Justice Minton told the Senate budget committee Monday.

    The case of Tabatha Newman’s in Jefferson County Wednesday is perhaps the first real-life example of what is in store if the budget bill passes.

    Newman was in court on a motion by prosecutors to revoke her probation on drug and theft convictions, because she had been arrested on additional drug charges and failed to meet with her probation officer.

    “We acknowledge she has a drug problem,” said Liam Michener, a law student working for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Michener told Cunningham that Newman has not received treatment and would continue to commit crimes if the judge didn’t take action.

    Defense attorney Ryan Dischinger, who represents Newman, told Cunningham that his client had been getting drug treatment in jail since she had been arrested on the new charges in January.

    “Clearly she has substance abuse issues,” Dischinger said. “I can’t hide from that.”

    But Dischinger recommended that, instead of sending Newman to prison for up to three years, the judge order her to drug court where treatment could “stop the cycle of addiction.”

    If sent to prison, Dischinger said, Newman would likely be released on parole soon, without having her problems fully addressed.

    In drug courts, defendants remain out of prison but get close supervision and treatment and must meet goals such as finding jobs, getting an education and staying clean. Most courts across the state have drug court.

    Kentucky Appeals Court Judge Irv Maze told legislators this week that losing Jefferson County’s drug court would be one of the painful casualties.

    “I used to run it as the county attorney,” he said. “It is the right thing to do. It keeps people out of prison and it restores lives.”

    Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed 9 percent cuts to the courts in each of the next two fiscal years.

    He told WDRB in a statement last month that “Kentucky has serious financial issues to deal with, and the solution will come as a result of budgetary sacrifice on the part of many.”

    Minton said closing drug court would affect about 2,500 current participants, possibly resulting in the incarceration of many of these people.

    He told legislators that closing drug court programs in Kentucky right now, in the midst of the state’s drug and heroin epidemic, would “send the wrong message about our willingness to address the human aspect of this escalating problem.”

    In court Wednesday, Cunningham called the possible elimination of drug courts “stupid, because the alternative is I’m going to spend a whole lot more money putting (Newman) in prison. But that’s what the General Assembly is basically saying to us.”

    In an interview Wednesday, Cunningham said he believes drug courts will be among the first cuts made, before employees are laid off.

    “I take people at their work when they tell me this is what will happen,” he said.

    Still, Cunningham said that there is still some hope drug court will be saved and if a good candidate comes before him, he would consider the treatment option rather than prison.

    Both Cunningham and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown said Newman was not a good candidate for drug court, given how many times she was arrested or skipped meetings with her probation officer.

    “But we’re concerned with the potential loss of drug court because it is appropriate in certain instances,” Jones Brown said.


    Senate approves REAL ID legislation

    For Immediate Release

    March 22, 2016

    Senate approves REAL ID legislation

    FRANKFORT—The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would bring Kentucky’s state ID program into compliance with a federal standard that has a fast-approaching deadline. Senate Bill 245, passed by a 26-12 vote, would make REAL ID-compliant state-issued identification available to Kentuckians. 

    REAL ID is a federal program adopted in 2005 that would come close to establishing a national proof-of-identity program. The Homeland Security program set minimum standards for new, voluntary “enhanced” photo ID cards to include more personal information and anti-counterfeit facets. Participating states are also required to store photos and information, where it could be accessed by law enforcement or other governmental agencies with the proper authorization.

    So far, only 23 states have complied with the act, and enforcement has been delayed. Kentucky is one of 27 states to receive an extension as it works to gain compliance.

    Initially, the security provisions of REAL ID were to take effect in January. Though access to high-security facilities like military bases and nuclear power plants has already been limited to those without the new ID, other restrictions are still a few years away.

    By 2018, flyers from states that are not REAL ID compliant nor have an extension – or those individuals who do not choose to obtain an enhanced ID – will need a second form of identification to fly domestically. By 2020, all flyers will require enhanced identification.

    Sponsor Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, reviewed the provisions of SB 245, though he said he felt it was hardly needed for a bill that was so well-hashed.

    “This is a bill that’s been out there. It’s been discussed for a while,” he said.

    Aside from adding the new IDs, SB 245 would also set new procedures for issuing licenses, reaffirming the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet as the issuing body, and would change renewal periods. Kentuckians would only have to renew their licenses every eight years, instead of the current four-year requirement.

    Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, lodged one of the votes against SB 245, calling it “a reach.”

    “It’s not exactly protecting my security,” she said, but the federal requirement of enhanced IDs “certainly will adversely affect my right to travel, so I vote no.”

    The bill is now on its way for consideration in the House.


    Bevin names new KSP chief

    FRANKFORT – Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders will be the new Kentucky State Police commissioner.

    Republican Gov. Matt Bevin announced the appointment Monday in a news release. An eight-person committee, which included three current and two retired state police officers, unanimously recommended Sanders after interviewing 16 other candidates. Bevin also appointed Alexander Payne as deputy commissioner. Payne, like Sanders, also works for the Jeffersontown Police Department.

    “After a long, thoughtful process, we are pleased that Chief Sanders and Major Payne will lead the men and women who make up the ‘Thin Gray Line,'” Bevin said in a news release.

    Sanders has more than 40 years of law enforcement experience, mostly with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He was a pilot based in Miami in the late 1980s before being promoted to various leadership roles including special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Division and administrator in the DEA’s Washington headquarters overseeing investigative technology and forensic sciences.

    Since 2007 Sanders has been chief in Jeffersontown, where the governor’s office noted his reforms led to seizing more than $1.5 million from drug traffickers.

    “I am honored to be selected by Governor Bevin and Secretary Tilley to lead such a prestigious law enforcement agency,” Sanders said in a news release from the governor’s office.


     [PDF Publication]23032016