RSSAuthor Archive for Beth Musgrave

Third staffer files sexual harassment complaint against Kentucky lawmaker

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — News that a third legislative staffer filed a complaint of sexual misconduct against a Western Kentucky lawmaker Thursday prompted calls for reform and a vote to require annual sexual harassment training for state House members.

Gloria Morgan, a non-partisan staffer for the Legislative Research Commission, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, with the LRC and the Legislative Ethics Commission. She also accused the LRC of failing to investigate her allegations against Arnold.

The complaint, which was obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader, said Arnold propositioned Morgan one night during the 2009 legislative session. Morgan referred all questions to her lawyer, Brenda Allen.

According to the complaint, Morgan and Arnold were leaving the Capitol Annex at the same time. Morgan said Arnold allegedly rubbed her back down to her waist area, then asked her to “come out and play” that night. After Morgan twice denied Arnold’s advances, “his demeanor changed and he became angry,” the complaint said.

Morgan said she told her boss at the LRC, Anita Muckelroy, about Arnold’s conduct. Morgan said that Muckelroy only seemed to be concerned that Morgan was “nice to Arnold.”

House passes new redistricting map; plan heads to Senate

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed new legislative district lines that would create four new House districts and pair eight incumbents in four other districts.

The plan now heads to the Senate, which will attach its newly-drawn Senate districts to House Bill 1. Republican Senate leaders have said they believe they will have near unanimous support for the new Senate legislative district lines.

Leaders hope to pass both maps by Friday, the fifth day of a special legislative session that costs $60,000 a day.

House Bill 1 cleared the House 83-17 after more than an hour of debate. This is the third time the Democratic-controlled House has passed a redistricting plan. The 2012 redistricting plan was found unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. The House passed another redistricting plan during the 2013 General Assembly but the plan was never passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

During debate on the floor, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the plan was fair. It splits 24 counties into multiple districts, the minimum number allowed.

State finishes year with $40.5 million more than budgeted

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Kentucky finished the fiscal year that ended June 30 with $40.5 million more than originally expected, according to final revenue numbers released Wednesday.

The state won’t have a final tally of how much it spent until later this month, so it’s still not known if there is a budget surplus or deficit, said State Budget Director Jane Driskell.

This is the third straight year that Kentucky’s General Fund revenue has increased. Taxes and fees collected for the year totaled $9.34 billion, or 2.8 percent more than fiscal year 2012.

Revenue forecasters had projected the state would collect $9.3 billion. Legislators used that forecast to write the state’s two-year budget.

Tax collections showed growth in all four fiscal quarters, according to numbers released by the Office of State Budget Director.

Three nominated for N. Ky Court of Appeals seat

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader. com

FRANKFORT — Two northern Kentucky lawyers and an administrative law judge from Prospect have been nominated to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals.

The Judicial Nominating Commission, a non-partisan panel led by Chief Supreme Court Justice John D. Minton, on Tuesday selected Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect, Mary Kathleen Molloy of Crescent Springs and Justin Sanders of Fort Wright as nominees for the 6th Appellate district seat. The seat was vacated when Gov. Steve Beshear appointed former Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller to the state Supreme Court in April.

Beshear will appoint one of the three to the Court of Appeals, Kentucky’s second-highest court.

Kentucky Spirit says it did not breach Medicaid contract with state

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Officials with Kentucky Spirit said Monday that the Medicaid managed care company did not breach its contract with the state when it stopped offering services to more than 124,000 clients over the weekend.

“Kentucky Spirit does not believe it has breached its contract with the commonwealth and believe our position will be upheld in the pending litigation,” said Deanna Lane, a vice president of Centene, Kentucky Spirit’s parent company. “We have taken every step possible to make this a smooth and orderly transition, including giving the state over 8 months notice.”

Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials said Kentucky Spirit — one of three managed care providers hired by the state in November 2011 to control costs in the federal-state health care program — ceased to provide services to its clients at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. After the company failed to provide services, the state moved Kentucky Spirit’s clients to Coventry and WellCare, the two other managed care providers.

Kentucky Spirit and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have been at odds since Kentucky Spirit announced in October that it planned to terminate its contract on July 5, a year early. In May, a Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled that if Kentucky Spirit left the state early it would be in breach of contract and could potentially owe the state millions of dollars.

Court refuses to block Kentucky Spirit from ending Medicaid contract on Friday

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — A Kentucky Court of Appeals judge refused on Monday to stop Kentucky Spirit, a Medicaid managed care company with more than 124,000 clients in the state, from pulling out of Kentucky on Friday.

Chief Court of Appeals Judge Glenn E. Acree ruled that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services had ample time to prepare for Kentucky Spirit’s departure from the Medicaid market and should not need an additional two months to transition Kentucky Spirit’s members to two other Medicaid managed care companies.

Acree wrote that the cabinet also could try to extend Kentucky Spirit’s contract if it wanted the company to remain in Kentucky through Aug. 31. A lower court had repeatedly warned the cabinet to begin to plan for Kentucky Spirit’s departure on July 5 and the cabinet failed to do so, Acree said.

Kentucky Spirit told the state in October that it was going to end its contract on July 5, a year before it was set to expire. Kentucky Spirit said it was losing too much money in Kentucky.

In May, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that if Kentucky Spirit pulls out of the state on Friday it would be in breach of contract and liable for damages, possibly in the millions of dollars.
Kentucky Spirit appealed Wingate’s decision, but that appeal is still pending.

The cabinet, which oversees Medicaid, filed an emergency motion asking the court to order Kentucky Spirit to remain in Kentucky until at least Aug. 31.

State wants courts to make Kentucky Spirit stay through Aug. 31

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — State officials have asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to order a managed care company with more than 124,000 Medicaid patients to continue operating in Kentucky until at least August 31.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals will likely decide early next week whether Kentucky Spirit must remain in Kentucky past July 5, the day the company says it will terminate its contract with Kentucky.

Kentucky Spirit is one of three managed care companies the state hired in November 2011 to manage health care for the poor and elderly. The company told the state last year that it would pull out of Kentucky a year before its contract was to expire in July 2014, citing a larger-than-expected loss of money.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in May that Kentucky Spirit could not leave a year early without breaching its contract with the state. Under the ruling, the state would be entitled to damages, probably worth millions of dollars, if Kentucky Spirit terminates its contract early.

Kentucky Spirit appealed Wingate’s ruling to the Court of Appeals and continues to assert that it will leave the state on July 5.

State to get $15 million from online gambling company

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Kentucky will receive $15 million from an online gambling company in a settlement of a 2010 lawsuit, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday.

The $15 million is in addition to a $6 million settlement from federal lawsuits against online gambling companies that was announced earlier this month.

The money could not have come at a better time. The state closes its books for the fiscal year on Sunday and it was still unclear on Thursday if revenues would meet projections for the year.

Kentucky filed a lawsuit against in August 2010, alleging that the company illegally collected bets from Kentucky gamblers. The $15 million settlement comes from Kentucky bets placed before the operation shut down after Congress passed the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibited businesses from knowingly accepting payments in a bet or wager over the Internet.

The previous $6 million settlement stemmed from two federal lawsuits in Maryland and New York. In addition, Kentucky still has a 2008 lawsuit against more than 140 online gambling websites that is ongoing.

Beshear has said Internet gambling undermines the state’s horse racetracks and charitable gambling.

Governor finds additional $350,000 to entice schools into raising dropout age

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear has found an additional $350,000 to entice school districts into raising their dropout age from 16 to 18.

Tuesday was the first day school districts could vote to raise their dropout age starting in the 2015-16 school year under a law approved earlier this year.

Once 55 percent — or 96 of the state’s 174 school districts — vote to raise the dropout age, remaining school districts will have four years to implement the change.

The Department of Education has previously said it will use $570,000 from a federal dropout-prevention grant to award $10,000 grants to the first 57 school districts that raise their dropout age. With the additional $350,000 from Beshear, 92 school districts will receive the grants.

Nancy Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education, said the department still hopes to find an additional $40,000 to help reach the 96-district threshold.

Legislators want insurers to pay autism benefits

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Legislators told the state’s insurance companies Tuesday to work with parents of autistic children to ensure that legitimate claims are being paid, as required by a bill lawmakers approved three years ago.

If continuing payment snafus are not resolved before the legislative session begins in January 2014, the legislature may consider making tweaks to the law, said Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, and co-chairman of the Interim Banking and Insurance Committee. He said one possible change would be to require insurance companies to meet quarterly with providers or parents who have problems getting paid.

“There is no reason why we can’t get this worked out,” said Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, after the two hour hearing to discuss problems with implementation of the law, which requires large insurance plans to pay for autism-related treatments.

Greer, the other co-chairman of the committee, was a primary sponsor of House Bill 159 in 2010.

“My goal is to make sure that these parents receive benefits and there are no more complications,” Greer said.