Anti-poverty protest gets constrained at Capitol

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For the second week in a row, a group of protesters with the Poor People’s Campaign were denied entry to the State Capitol in large numbers. Only two at a time were allowed to enter the Capitol.

By Charles Bertram

Anti-poverty protest gets constrained at Capitol. State police say why.

By Jack Brammer

Updated June 11, 2018 08:35 PM

FRANKFORT

Crying out this is “our house,” about 100 members of an anti-poverty group were stopped at the front doors of the Kentucky Capitol Monday afternoon for the second time this month and were told by police only two at a time could enter.

Two leaders of The Poor People’s Campaign who did enter the august seat of state government made it to the front door of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s office but found its entrance cordoned off with a blue rope and a state trooper. After a few minutes, the door was shut.

Pam McMichael of Louisville and Tayna Fogle of Lexington protested the lack of access and left after giving office staff a lengthy petition of grievances involving wages, union rights, public housing and affordable education. “We will be back,” said Fogle.

For five straight Mondays, the Poor People’s Campaign has been at the state Capitol to address what it says is inequality for poor people. Its efforts seem to be growing in intensity as the standoffs with police remain peaceful.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard W. Sanders, in a June 8 reply to Democratic state Reps. George Brown Jr. of Lexington and Attica Scott of Louisville on why the protesters were blocked from entering the Capitol, said the policy was based on “prior unlawful acts” by members of the group and not the group’s message.

Brown said Monday night he has not seen the commissioner’s letter reported by Louisville’s WDRB-TV. Scott could not be reached for comment.

In his letter, Sanders mentioned the group’s blocking the roadway behind the Capitol last month and entering the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion and leaving chalk messages.

McMichael said Monday night that the group has used “several methods to bring attention to our issues.” She acknowledge that some of the group blocked the Capitol street for 45 to 60 minutes and conducted a “die-in” on the Mansion grounds where members lay down and drew chalk lines around the bodies and left messages.

Sanders also said in his letter that some members of the campaign wore white armbands with attorney’s names on them in a quest to be arrested.

Of that, McMichael said, “None of us want to be arrested. The armbands show we are willing to be arrested.”

Sanders also said the group got approval to meet on the porch behind the Capitol but did not ask to meet inside.

He said the limited-access policy “was enacted for such a group that has advertised, planned and trained to compel law-enforcement to arrest them.”

Sanders said this protocol “would not be applicable to guests or other demonstrators who plan to make their voices heard at the Capitol and then leave after following all laws and regulations.”

On June 4, the Rev. William J. Barber II of North Carolina, national co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, spoke to about 400 in front of the statehouse and tried unsuccessfully to lead many of them into the Capitol.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Josh Lawson then said access was limited to the demonstrators because the group did not seek approval to protest inside the building. He also said the policy of two demonstrators at a time into the building stemmed from some protesters who spent the night in the Capitol a few weeks ago.

Asked Monday why the Poor People’s Campaign has not sought approval to protest inside the Capitol, Fogle said that should not be the case and she believed her group was being targeted by the government. She noted that other people were being allowed into the Capitol in groups larger than two.

McMichael said Barber is tentatively scheduled to hold a news conference 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol and the group is considering a possible lawsuit.

Before the group tried to enter the Capitol Monday, it held a rally in front of the Capitol led by the Rev. Megan Huston of Bowling Green’s First Christian Church that featured speeches, songs and signs. In the rally was Bill Londrigan, head of the state AFL-CIO who held a sign that read, “Stop the War on Working Families.”

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor next year, delivered bottled water to the group and said its members are “always welcome to my office in the Capitol.”

The speakers included Carlos Santacruz of the national campaign in New York, who urged the crowed to “take back your house” and Hunter Malone, who identified himself as “a proud, gay man” from Berea and pledged, “We will not let them get by with this.” The singers included Charles “Chuck” Neblett of Russellville, a civil rights activist who helped found The Freedom Singers in 1962.

The group tried to enter the Capitol at 3 p.m. and was met by six Capitol security guards. Several state police troopers were in the background. The crowd was told only two could enter at one time and the others could go no farther than two metal detectors a few feet from the front door.

A large crowd stood in front of the machines and eventually knelt in prayer. Fogle told the officers the Poor People’s Campaign knew they didn’t make much money and the group might stay awhile so the police could get overtime.

Several members of the group remained inside the front door of the Capitol into the evening Monday. All of the protesters had had left the Capitol by 8:30 p.m.

A Kentucky State Police sergeant stood guard in the governor's office as Tayna Fogle, middle, and Pam McMichael, right, attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain access to the office to deliver a petition Monday afternoon.

A Kentucky State Police sergeant stood guard in the governor’s office as Tayna Fogle, middle, and Pam McMichael, right, attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain access to the office to deliver a petition Monday afternoon. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

CONTINUE READING…

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(KY) We will be introducing an Adult Responsible Use Act tomorrow (Jan. 17)

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We will be introducing an Adult Responsible Use Act tomorrow. A Press Conference is scheduled for Tomorrow, Wednesday 17th, 11:30, room 327 of Capitol Bldg. We will meet in cafeteria at 10:00 if you would like to join.

Dan Seum

4 hrs · Louisville ·

FOLKS NOW IS THE TIME TO GET INVOLVED!…REMEMBER, YOU DON’T HAVE TO CONSUME CANNABIS TO SUPPORT ENDING THE PROHIBITION!

*No one should be put in jail for cannabis
*No one should lose custody of their children over cannabis
*No one should be denied the safer alternative treatment cannabis gives for a myriad of symptoms
*No one should have to treat addictions with other harmful drugs when cannabis has proven to help
*No one should be forced into the black market to purchase cannabis
*No Veteran should be denied cannabis for their PTSD
*No parent should be forced to move from their homes in KY to provide safer cannabis treatment for their epileptic children
*NO person over 21 should be forced to adhere to cannabis prohibition while Alcohol is celebrated in Kentucky
*No one should lose Pell Grant Opportunities over cannabis
*No Hemp farmer should have to burn their crop because it tested higher for THC
*No one should defend the prohibition (Google Harry Anslinger!) The Prohibition is indefensible!

Dan Seum

6 hrs · Louisville ·

Some Facts you should Know:

Our Government holds a Patent on Cannabis ( patent #6,630,507)
Our Government grows marijuana at the University of Mississippi for research
Our Government, and all tax payers, supply patients with 300 pre-rolled Cannabis cigarettes every 25 days since at least 1982.
Cannabis was listed in the Physician Desk Reference and prescribed successfully until 1942.
29 states, including Washington D.C. legalized Cannabis, Over half of America’s population live in legal Cannabis states.
KY polling show over 80% approval of Medicinal Marijuana and over 58% approval for Responsible Adult Use
WHAS News conducted a poll asking if Cannabis should be regulated and taxed to aide in the Pension Crisis we are facing in Ky…OVER 80% APPROVE.

I invite you to Google Harry Anslinger, our first drug czar, to understand the Nature of Cannabis Prohibition…It was in NO Way due to Health issues.

Dan Seum

8 hrs · Louisville ·

We will be introducing an Adult Responsible Use Act tomorrow. A Press Conference is scheduled for Tomorrow, Wednesday 17th, 11:30, room 327 of Capitol Bldg. We will meet in cafeteria at 10:00 if you would like to join. NOW IS THE TIME TO SHINE! The work begins AFTER the press conference. I need to organize the state to get behind this Bill…will you help? Please contact me.

SOURCE LINK

(KY) This Week in Frankfort

January 12, 2018

This Week in Frankfort

January 8-11

FRANKFORT — The General Assembly’s 2018 session passed one of its early milestones this week as the first bill to clear a chamber this year was approved by the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 3, brought back an issue lawmakers have considered before: adding language to the state constitution that specifies certain rights that should be afforded to crime victims. These rights would include notice of all criminal court proceedings involving the accused, reasonable protection from the accused, timely notice of the release or escape of the accused and the right to full restitution to be paid by the convicted.

If Senate Bill 3 is approved by lawmakers, then Kentucky voters would get to decide whether this change is made to the state constitution.

The legislation is part of a national movement to establish Marsy’s Laws, named in memory of Marsy Nicholas, who was killed in the 1980s by her ex-boyfriend in California.

Another top issue this week focused on the possibility of moving the election of Kentucky’s governor and other statewide officers to even-numbered years. Supporters say this would save the state money on election costs and increase voter turnout. A House Committee has approved House Bill 23 on this matter, while the full Senate has approved similar legislation, Senate Bill 4.

If either bill is approved by both chambers, a proposed constitutional amendment on the matter would be decided on by Kentucky voters.

Other bills that took steps forward this week include:

Senate Bill 7, which would establish the Kentucky Rare Disease Advisory Council and Trust Fund to promote research, treatment and education on rare diseases. The bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday and sent to the House for consideration

House Bill 88, approved by the House State Government Committee on Thursday, would allow unclaimed state property to be the only source of funding for operation of the Office of the State Treasurer. The measure is aimed at giving some relief to the state budget. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

HB 84 would improve efforts to accommodate the wishes of people who want to be organ and tissue donors. The bill would require coroners and medical examiners to contact the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates if a deceased person’s body is suitable for organ or tissue donation. The bill was approved Wednesday by the House Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations Committee and now goes to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 8 would provide civil immunity for damaging a vehicle if a person enters the vehicle with the reasonable, good-faith belief that a dog or cat is in immediate danger of death if not removed. The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and now heads to the full senate for consideration.

The Senate and House will not convene on Monday, January 15th in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, January 16. That same day the governor will give his State of the Commonwealth address in which he is expected to lay out details on his proposed budget. The biennial budget is a top priority this session and once the governor hands over his proposal, the House and Senate will begin making changes so that the final budget proposal reflects their priorities.

If you’d like to share feedback on issues under consideration with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

–END–

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/release.htm

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/SB3/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/HB23/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/SB4/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/SB7/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/HB88/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/HB84/bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/SB8/bill.pdf

This meeting was not supposed to known to the public… “Frankfort, Anti-Marijuana Discussion”

I have been informed of these meetings taking place in Frankfort, Kentucky, this Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 1:00pm.  I am posting the information here!  Please follow links to obtain more information!

#1

***Attention mark your calendars for this Thursday’s Anti Marijuana Discussion***

Should KY Veterans, or Public Protection Officers (Fire Fighters, Police, EMT) be criminals for trying to find a better quality of life?
Come show support for KY patient’s safe access to cannabis.
Thursday October 12, 2017 @ 1:00 P.M.
Capital Annex Room 154 (702 Capital Ave., Frankfort 40601)
Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee

— in Kentucky State Capitol.

*****************************************************************

Thursday, October 12, 2017

#2

10:00 am, Annex Room 131

PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE

Agenda: Potential Legal Action Against Drug Industry for Contributing to Opioid Abuse in Kentucky; Purdue Pharma Settlement • Attorney General Andy Beshear Presentation of staff report Kentucky’s Foster Care System Responses by • Adria Johnson, Commissioner • Elizabeth Caywood, Executive Advisor, Department for Community Based Services • Kelly Stephens, Manager Court Services, Administrative Office of the Courts Available for questions • Officials from Personnel Cabinet

Members: Sen. Danny Carroll (Co-Chair), Rep. Lynn Bechler (Co-Chair), Sen. Tom Buford, Sen. Perry B. Clark, Sen. Wil Schroder, Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum, Sen. Reginald Thomas, Sen. Stephen West, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Rep. Chris Fugate, Rep. Brian Linder, Rep. Donna Mayfield, Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rep. Rob Rothenburger, Rep. Arnold Simpson, Rep. Walker Thomas

****************************************************************


#3

1:00 pm, Annex Room 154

INTERIM JOINT COMMITTEE ON VETERANS, MILITARY AFFAIRS, AND PUBLIC PROTECTION

Agenda: Pledge of Allegiance Distinguished Veteran Marijuana and Public Safety • Richard W. Sanders, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police • Van Ingram, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Staff • Ed Shemelya, Director, National Marijuana Initiative • Tony Coder, Director, State and Local Affairs, Smart Approaches to Marijuana School and Campus Safety • Alex Payne, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky State Police • Mark Filburn, Commissioner, Department of Criminal Justice Training

Members: Sen. Albert Robinson (Co-Chair), Rep. Tim Moore (Co-Chair), Sen. Julian M. Carroll, Sen. Perry B. Clark, Sen. C.B. Embry, Sen. Denise Harper Angel, Sen. Ernie Harris, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Sen. Stan Humphries, Sen. Dennis Parrett, Sen. Wil Schroder, Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Sen. Mike Wilson, Sen. Max Wise, Rep. Robert Benvenuti , Rep. Tom Burch, Rep. Will Coursey, Rep. Jeffery Donohue, Rep. Myron Dossett, Rep. Jim DuPlessis, Rep. Chris Fugate, Rep. Jeff Greer, Rep. Chris Harris, Rep. Mark Hart, Rep. Regina Huff, Rep. Dan Johnson, Rep. DJ Johnson, Rep. Donna Mayfield, Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rep. Brandon Reed, Rep. Rob Rothenburger, Rep. Dean Schamore, Rep. Walker Thomas

SOURCE LINK

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/legislativecalendarv2/sp_bss_calendar_/index

https://www.facebook.com/KY4MM/posts/1461959113839300

https://www.facebook.com/jaime.montalvo.3110?fref=ufi&rc=p

https://www.facebook.com/amy.stalk.3?fref=ufi&rc=p

(KY) GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR GET SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA!

BECAUSE THIS STORY IS SO IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY I HAVE INCLUDED TWO SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS AIRED ON WLKY.

THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED TODAY, JUNE 14TH, 2017, IN JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY AGAINST GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR BY DANNY BELCHER OF BATH COUNTY, AMY STALKER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, AND DAN SEUM JR OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.

ky mj lawsuit

ABOVE:  LINK TO PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON WLKY

FACEBOOK – WLKY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH COMMENTS

Mark Vanderhoff Reporter

FRANKFORT, Ky. —

Three people are suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over Kentucky’s marijuana laws, claiming their rights are being violated by not being able to use or possess medicinal marijuana.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court, was filed on behalf of Danny Belcher of Bath County, Amy Stalker of Louisville and Dan Seum Jr., son of state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale.

Seum turned to marijuana after being prescribed opioid painkillers to manage back pain.

“I don’t want to go through what I went through coming off that Oxycontin and I can’t function on it,” he said. “If I consume cannabis, I can at least function and have a little quality of life.”

The plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Seum does not believe the state can legally justify outlawing medical marijuana while at the same time allowing doctors to prescribe powerful and highly addictive opioids, which have created a statewide and national epidemic of abuse.

That legal justification lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ legal challenge, which claims Kentucky is violating its own constitution.

The lawsuit claims the prohibition violates section two of the Kentucky Constitution, which denies “arbitrary power,” and claims the courts have interpreted that to mean a law can’t be unreasonable.

“It’s difficult to make a comparison between medical cannabis and opioids that are routine prescribed to people all over the commonwealth, all over the country, and say that there’s some sort of rational basis for the prohibition on cannabis as medicine when we know how well it works,” said Dan Canon, who along with attorney Candace Curtis is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also claims Kentucky’s law violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy, also guaranteed under the state constitution.

Spokespeople for Gov. Bevin and Beshear say their offices are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit.

In a February interview on NewsRadio 840 WHAS, Bevin said the following in response to a question about whether he supports medical marijuana:

“The devil’s in the details. I am not opposed to the idea medical marijuana, if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. Again, it’s a function of its making its way to me. I don’t do that executively. It would have to be a bill.”  CONTINUE READING…

Lawsuit challenges Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban

By Bruce Schreiner | AP June 14 at 6:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s criminal ban against medical marijuana was challenged Wednesday in a lawsuit touting cannabis as a viable alternative to ease addiction woes from opioid painkillers.

The plaintiffs have used medical marijuana to ease health problems, the suit said. The three plaintiffs include Dan Seum Jr., the son of a longtime Republican state senator.

Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother.

“She comes back to her home state and she’s treated as a criminal for this same conduct,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Canon. “That’s absurd, it’s irrational and it’s unconstitutional.”

Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: “I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I’m able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard.” CONTINUE READING…

(KY) This Week at the State Capitol

For Immediate Release

February 17, 2017

This Week at the State Capitol

February 13 – 17, 2017

FRANKFORT — Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate.

In-state newspapers have recently reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national publication reported that one rural Kentucky county filled enough prescriptions over 12 months to supply 150 doses of painkillers to every person in the county.

The same conversations held across the state about the way the drug crisis is impacting the court system, police, health care workers, treatment facilities, social workers, prison officials and families are also being held in the State Capitol. Those deliberations resulted in a number of bills aimed at addressing the issue, including several bills that took steps forward in the legislative process this week.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 14, which is aimed at getting drug dealers off the streets by strengthening penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Under the legislation, which was approved on a 36-0 vote, trafficking in less than two grams of these substances would be elevated to a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

Later in the week, a pair of bills addressing the drug crises were also approved in the House committees.

House Bill 333 would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil – a powerful opioid intended for large animals – and related drugs. Trafficking any amount of these drugs could result in up to 10 years in prison under the legislation. The bill would also restrict prescriptions for some painkillers to a three-day supply, though exceptions would be allowed in some circumstances. House Bill 333 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

The House Education Committee approved House Bill 145, which would help fight opioid addiction by requiring that public school students be educated about the dangers of prescription pain killers and their connection to addiction to heroin and other drugs.

Bills on other issues that advanced in the General Assembly this week include the following:

· Senate Bill 1 is a sweeping education reform measure that sets the course to change educational standards and accountability for public schools. The more than 100-page-long bill is an omnibus measure aimed at empowering state education officials, locally-elected school board members and teachers to decide the best teaching methods for their communities. It would set up several committees and advisory panels to review educational standards. The bill would change how students are tested, and it would also set up a new way for intervening in low-performing schools by placing more power in the local school district during those interventions. The bill passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

· House Bill 14 would give police, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel protection under the state’s hate crime statutes. Under the bill, those who assault, kidnap, or commit certain other violent offenses against first responders could face stricter sentencing in court. Currently only the legally-protected classes of race, color, religion and national origin, as well as sexual orientation, are covered under the state’s hate crime statute. House Bill 14 passed the House on a 77-13-1 vote and has been sent to the Senate.

· Senate Bill 78 would require public schools across Kentucky would to go smoke-free by next school year. The bill would outlaw the use of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on elementary, middle and high school campuses in addition to buses. The bill was approved by the Senate on a 25-8-2 and has been sent to the House.

· Senate Bill 75 would increase the amount donors can contribute to election campaigns. Under the legislation, individuals and political action committees could donate $2,000 in the primary and general elections in Kentucky– up from the $1,000 limit. The bill passed the Senate on a 27-10 vote and has been delivered to the House.

· House Bill 192 would make it easier for 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care to apply for driver’s permits and driver’s licenses. The bill, which passed 96-0 before being sent to the Senate,  would allow those in foster care to get a driver’s license or permit without requiring them to have a parent’s or other adult’s signature on the permit or license applications.

Members of the General Assembly are eager to receive feedback on the issues under consideration. You can share your thoughts with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.

You can also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.

–END–

Kentucky: SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW

COLUMN

SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW

Submitted by Senator Reginald Thomas

FRANKFORT – The 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly ended just before midnight Friday, April 15 as we pushed through a long week to finalize legislation, including a $21 billion spending plan for the two-year period beginning July 1, 2016.

The governor set the stage for the state budget debate when he rolled out his proposed budget during the fourth week of the session. He proposed major outlays of new money to pension systems but cut funding to universities and most state agencies by 9 percent to help come up with the money for the retirement plans. The House rejected the cuts being applied to universities and restored that funding. The Senate Republicans put the 9 percent cuts to universities back in.

The compromise reached between the Senate and House settled on a 4.5 percent reduction to funding for institutions of higher education with the exception of Kentucky State University in Frankfort, which is fully funded.

The compromise budget appropriates $973 million to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement Systems, an additional $186 million to the Kentucky Retirement Systems and $125 million in the form of a contribution to the “Permanent Fund” which will be a depository of certain surplus funds used to stabilize the pension funds in the most peril.

The budget the Kentucky General Assembly sent to the governor was a good plan. I sat at the table during the entire budget negotiations between leaders of both the House and Senate chambers as they worked on the finished product to send to the governor. In my mind, it was not perfect by any means, but the charge of the Budget Conference Committee was to find a compromise between the House and Senate budgets that would best meet the needs of citizens across the state.

The work was intense and the hours were long, but I was satisfied that the end product would serve our state well for the next biennium. It is very unfortunate that Governor Bevin used his veto power to make line item cuts that will affect Kentuckians across the commonwealth, especially in the area of education. A few of the vetoes made by Governor Bevin that were important components to move the state forward in the biennium are listed below:

  • Not only was the structure for the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program eliminated (with his veto of House Bill 626), but $9.4 million was cut from the budget to fund scholarships in 2016-17. An appropriation of $15 million does remain for scholarships for 2017-18.
  • Appropriations for lung-, colon-, and breast-cancer screening programs.
  • Funding for Kentucky Legal Education Opportunity Program, Access to Justice and Public Safety First.
  • Funding for Every1 Reads Program ($225,700 in each fiscal year).
  • Funds for pre-school education eligibility pilot project expansion up to 200 percent of poverty level.
  • Funding for Kentucky scholarships programs based on financial need – the College Access Program (CAP) and Kentucky Tuition Grant Program (KTG).

One significant plus, the budget bill includes $60 million in state money to go toward the $250 million Lexington Convention Center to make it an A-1 facility. House Bill 55 puts in place a revenue raising measure for the project by increasing the hotel tax by 2.5 percent points.

I have said repeatedly, this project will make a $100 million difference in Fayette County and it is absolutely critical for our city. Without the expansion project, we would continue to lose convention business to competitor cities. Currently, our tourism data tells us we are only marketing to 65 percent of the available national conventions and meetings market. Without this expansion, officials said the annual $42 million impact from the convention centers would drop by more than $13 million annually. Lexington could not suffer such a blow and continue to progress so I fought vigorously for this project.

Highlights of some priority areas shielded from cuts also include:

  • $175 million for a budget reserve trust fund;
  • fully funding public schools through 12th grade;
  • fully funding anti-heroin legislation from 2015;
  • raises for state troopers;
  • fully funding Kentucky Educational Television;
  • restoring funding to the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky;
  • preserving the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal, and
  • allocating a $5 million bond pool for Kentucky state parks.

We also passed a two-year road plan, which funds the Transportation Cabinet.

While the budget grabbed the headlines during this legislative session, we also passed some other legislation that will have a positive impact on the lives of all Kentuckians. I will share a summary highlighting some of the bills that passed this session next week. Through those measures, we took steps to protect our most vulnerable citizens, maintain our transportation infrastructure, and invest in education, public safety and job creation across the Commonwealth.

While this legislative session is over, the work in Frankfort continues, as interim joint committees soon resume post session work.  Interim committees provide continuity of discussion for ongoing issues and provide forum for new and developing issues. It is the opportunity to take government to the people, as we sometimes have meetings outside of Frankfort, discuss issues in-depth, and allow bill identification, creation and approval for prefiling for the 2017 regular session. This enables bills to be introduced at the beginning of the session, allowing citizens ample time to express their opinions on the measures.

Please stay in contact with me during the interim by emailing me directly at reginald.thomas@lrc.ky.gov. Thank you and enjoy the remainder of our wonderful Kentucky spring.

-END-