HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear underwent minor surgery Thursday to remove scar tissue that developed from last November’s procedure to repair a detached retina, his office said Friday in a statement.
The surgery was short and successful, and Beshear expects no interruptions to his regular schedule, the statement said.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, will hold an open house for constituents on Monday at his district office in Lexington from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
It is located at 2709 Old Rosebud Road, Suite 100, in the Hamburg Palce area near the intersection of I-75 and I-64 off Sir Barton Way.
The open house will provide constituents with an opportunity to meet Barr and his staff, and learn about his constituent services.
Barr’s staff holds monthly office hours in each county of the 6th Congressional District. The schedule for those office hours:
First Tuesday of every month
Woodford County Courthouse: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
First Thursday of every month:
Franklin County Courthouse: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m
Scott County Courthouse: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Second Tuesday of every month:
Nicholas County Courthouse: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Anderson County Courthouse: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Lexington-Fayette County: 2709 Rosebud Road, Suite 100 (in Hamburg Place area; off Sir Barton Way): 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Second Wednesday of every month:
Fleming County Courthouse: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Robertson County Library: 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Clark County-Winchester City Hall: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Montgomery County Courthouse: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Bath County Courthouse: 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Third Monday of every month:
Jessamine County Courthouse: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Madison County Courthouse: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Estill County Courthouse: 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Third Wednesday of every month:
Harrison County Courthouse: 10:00 p.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Bourbon County Courthouse: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Menifee County Courthouse: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Wolfe County Courthouse: 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Powell County Courthouse: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
FRANKFORT — Legalizing casino gambling in Kentucky appears to be off the table for this year’s legislative session.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Friday there was little desire among the Republican caucus to pursue the issue.
“There has been discussion among members of the caucus on the issue of expanded gambling,” Stivers said in a written statement. “Leadership felt that the sentiment was simply not there to address it due to it being a short session with major issues such as pension reform still outstanding.”
Friday was the last day for senators to file bills for consideration in the 2013 General Assembly, which lasts 30 workdays. Tuesday is the filing deadline for House bills.
A House member always could file a constitutional amendment for expanded gambling but the issue would face an uphill battle in the Senate given Stivers’ comments.
Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum, R-Louisville, said in a statement that he had discussed the possibility of a bill to allow casinos with some members of the Republican caucus but “found that there was not enough sentiment to deal with it since this is a short session with other more pressing issues.”
The Kentucky General Assembly has debated for more than two decades whether to allow casino gambling.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer filed a bill Friday that would close the state legislative retirement plan to any new members after July 1, 2013.
Legislators who have not contributed to the plan prior to this July 1 would not be eligible to participate in it or the Kentucky Employees Retirement System but could participate in a defined contribution plan.
Palmer, D-Winchester, said he did not know if his Senate Bill 193 will win legislative approval. “We’ll see where it goes,” he said.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — State Auditor Adam Edelen’s proposal to strengthen oversight of more than 1,200 special taxing districts in Kentucky may face a tough time in the Senate.
The House approved House Bill 1 on Feb. 8 on a 96-1 vote, but Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said Friday he has several concerns about the measure.
“Some of us think that the bill doesn’t go far enough in terms of providing the proper oversight when it comes to budgets and taxes and rate increases by these special taxing districts,” said Thayer, R-Georgetown.
He later said one suggestion has been for county fiscal courts to approve the budgets of the special districts, “so that’s something we need to look at, too.”
Under the bill, special taxing districts would have to file their annual financial reports with an online state registry. The public database would allow people to keep tabs on how, where and why special taxing districts spend $2.7 billion each year.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – The Senate approved a bill Friday its sponsor said is designed to keep more physician assistants in the state.
Senate Bill 43, sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, would eliminate the 18-month on-site supervisory period for new physician assistants.
The Kentucky Academy of Physician Assistants says Kentucky is the only state that has a law requiring physician assistants who have graduated from a Master’s-level program and passed a nationally accredited examination to wait 18 months before seeing patients without a supervising physician physically present.
Buford said about half of all new graduates are leaving the state to make an average starting salary of $88,000 in other states.
Several physician assistants in white jackets were in the Senate to see the 33-2 vote of approval.
By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Expanding instant racing to more Kentucky horse racetracks could provide additional tax money to help fund the state’s ailing pension system, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Friday.
Wagering on instant racing machines — devices similar to slot machines that utilize previously run horse races — at two Kentucky tracks has generated $3.7 million in pari-mutuel taxes since Sept. 2011.
By expanding instant racing to other Kentucky tracks, as Keeneland has proposed doing at a yet-to-be-built Quarter Horse track in Corbin and possibly at the Red Mile in Lexington, the state could generate between $25 million and $30 million in additional tax revenue that could be earmarked for the pension system, Stumbo said.
Senate Republicans were cool Friday to the idea of using taxes generated from instant racing to fund state-worker pensions.
“It seems as if the speaker is kind of like throwing anything up to see what sticks because yesterday he was all for a cigarette tax,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “Now he has changed to racing, so I would like to see what he will be for Tuesday when we return. Depending on how the wind blows, it seems the speaker blows.”
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Since Kentucky passed its first human trafficking law in 2008, more than 100 victims of human trafficking have been identified, but fewer than 20 of those cases have been prosecuted.
Advocates hope that if House Bill 3 passes the Republican-led Senate this legislative session, more of those cases will be prosecuted and more victims of human trafficking will be identified and treated rather than prosecuted.
The Democrat-led House unanimously passed HB 3 on Friday and it now heads to the Senate. The House approved a similar bill last year but it failed in the Senate.
Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, told the House on Friday that human trafficking is not just an international issue or an issue in big cities. Since 2008, there have been at least 18 state and federal human trafficking court cases in Kentucky. The vast majority of those cases involve Kentucky teens — mainly girls — who have been trafficked for sex by a relative.
“We need tougher laws in Kentucky to address this situation,” Overly said. “For those who think that human trafficking only happens in big cities … in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, it does. But it is also going on in our backyards. The time is now and the time is right.”
HB 3 would strengthen punishments for violating human trafficking laws, increase police training on how to deal with human trafficking, allow prosecutors to take assets and cash from those who are convicted of human trafficking, and allow that money to be used to treat human trafficking victims. The bill would also allow victims of human trafficking to receive services through the Cabinet for Health and Human Services rather than face criminal prosecution.