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Justice Scott will decide by early January whether to run for governor

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott of Pikeville said Monday he will decide by early January whether to run for governor next year.
If he decides to enter the Republican primary election next May, Scott said, he will step down immediately as a justice on the state’s highest court.
Scott, 67, emphasized during an interview in Lexington that he has not yet decided whether to enter the race.
He acknowledged that he has had “informal discussions” with potential running mates and that who might be his running mate for lieutenant governor is “a major factor” in his decision whether to seek the governor’s office.
He said it would be “a ticket for promise.”
If he runs, Scott said, his campaign would be based on ideas to improve the lives of Kentuckians.
The filing deadline to run for governor in 2015 is Jan. 27.
Two Republicans already have said they will run for governor – state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner.
Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville, a Democrat, also has entered the race, as well as Democrat Geoff Young, a retired engineer from Lexington who lost a bid in this year’s Democratic primary election for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat
Scott was elected to the Supreme Court, the state’s highest court, in November 2004 to represent the 7th District. It consists of 22 counties in Eastern Kentucky. He served as deputy chief justice from 2006 to 2010.
Scott was a circuit judge from 1984 to 1988. Before being a judge, he practiced law as a trial attorney from 1975 to 1980 and was an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Pike County from 1981 to 1982.
He has made unsuccessful runs for Congress and state attorney general.
Scott, a native of Pike County, attended Eastern Kentucky University for a year before volunteering for service in the Army in 1966. He was a first lieutenant in Vietnam.
After his military service, Scott received a bachelor’s degree from Pikeville College and a law degree from the University of Miami in Florida.

Phil Huddleston chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Luallen; Shannon Tivitt deputy chief for Beshear

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Beshear announced that Shannon Tivitt, who had been chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, will be his new deputy chief of staff.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement about Huddleston that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

In a release, Beshear said Tivitt “has been an indispensable asset to my administration as the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, overseeing policy efforts such as kyhealthnow and ‘Close the Deal,’” said Beshear.

“Her long history of work in city, county and state government operations gives her a valuable and practical understanding of what makes policies work. She is an ideal choice to serve on my senior staff.”

Tivitt succeeds Jamie Link, who resigned to become the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Prior to joining the Beshear administration, Tivitt served as chief of staff to Abramson for four years when he was mayor of Louisville.

She also led administrative efforts for the Louisville Development Authority for Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong and Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Denise Harper Angel.

She began her career in public service as a legislative coordinator with the City of Louisville’s Board of Aldermen.

“I have spent the last 20 years working in various agencies in city, county and state government because I have a deep appreciation for and devotion to public service,” said Tivitt. “I’m very grateful to Gov. Beshear for this opportunity to serve as his deputy chief of staff, and I look forward to helping continue the good work of this administration.”

Tivitt is a native of Breckinridge County and graduated from the University of Louisville. She resides in Louisville. Her appointment is
effective immediately.

–Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Gov. Steve Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

–Jack Brammer

Big dip in KY’s gasoline tax means less money for road projects

Transportation Secretary Mike HancockBy Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Kentucky motorists will pay less taxes for gas starting New Year’s Day, but the change will mean fewer road improvements, state officials warned Wednesday.

Kentucky’s tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol motor fuels will drop by 4.3 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, resulting in a loss to the Kentucky Road Fund of about $129 million on an annualized basis, according to the state Transportation Cabinet.

Kentucky’s gas tax fluctuates with the average wholesale price of gas, which has dropped in recent months.

“The gas tax accounts for more than half of the revenue in the Kentucky Road Fund,” state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a news release. “A loss of revenue is always concerning, but a revenue impact of this magnitude is crippling. It means less money for building, improving, maintaining and repairing our roads, streets and bridges.”

A loss of $129 million would amount to about 6 percent of Kentucky’s highway funding, which was forecast to collect $2.25 billion in the current fiscal year from all revenue sources, including state and federal motor-fuels taxes and a state usage tax on motor vehicles.

State Rep. Quarles may run for ag commissioner; Sen. Hornback says he will not

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –Republican state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown said Tuesday he is “strongly considering” running next year for state agriculture commissioner.

“I plan to talk to family and friends about this over Thanksgiving and have a comment about it Dec. 1,” said Quarles, who easily won re-election to the state House on Nov. 4.

Quarles’ comments about came after Republican state Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville said Tuesday he will not run for the office and will support Quarles for it.

Hornback, a farmer who has been in the Senate since 2011, said the timing was not right for him and his family.

Quarles, who has represented the 62nd House District since 2011, said he appreciated Hornback’s comments. The district includes Owen County and parts of Scott and Fayette counties.

Quarles, 31, is a farmer and attorney. He has been a target of Democrats since he defeated Charles Hoffman in 2010.

Quarles defeated Chuck Tackett, a magistrate on the Scott County Fiscal Court, in his Nov. 4 re-election bid, capturing nearly 59 percent of the vote.

He noted in the campaign that he is one of a few legislators to pass bills in his first two terms in office. One clarified voter instructions and another dealt with youth referees.

Farm radio show host Jean-Marie Lawson Spann is the only person so far to file to run for agriculture commissioner in 2015. She made her Democratic bid official last Wednesday.

Lawson Spann had announced in June that she would be seeking the office now held by Republican James Comer of Tompkinsville. Comer is running for governor next year.

New energy conservation plan for KU and LG&E means higher customer bills

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – A new energy efficiency plan for Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric will mean an increase in customers’ bills, an end to free compact fluorescent bulbs mailed to residential customers and a pilot test for “smart” meters.

The plan, approved by the state Public Service Commission Friday, means that a KU or LG&E customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month will see a 29-cent increase in their monthly surcharge for the conservation program, to $3.78 a month for KU customers and $4.68 a month for LG&E customers.

In its order, the PSC authorized KU and LG&E to continue or expand 10 existing programs for residential or commercial customers. Four programs will be dropped and one limited program will be started on a trial basis.

The PSC also ordered the two utilities to study the potential for energy efficiency programs for industrial customers.

The discontinued programs include:

• Mailing free compact fluorescent bulbs to residential customers;

• Incentives to encourage the incorporation of energy efficient features in new home construction;

• Discounts for residential and commercial customers to check and tune up their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to optimize efficiency;

•A web-based referral network for energy efficiency services.

Portions of the efficiency plan that will be continued include:

• Providing incentives to residential customers to install high-efficiency air conditioners, heat pumps and appliances, and to replace windows or add window films that reduce air conditioning usage.

• An energy audit program available to all residential customers.

• A program that provides high-usage residential customers with an energy usage profile and suggestions for reducing usage.

• Energy audit, energy efficiency and weatherization programs specifically tailored to the needs of low-income customers.

• Bill credits to residential customers who allow the utility to remotely turn off air conditioners for brief periods during times of peak demand.

• Cash incentives for residential customers who recycle inefficient and old, but functioning, refrigerators and freezers.

• Financial incentives for commercial customers to reduce energy usage through installation of energy-efficient equipment, through new construction that exceeds building code requirements for energy efficiency and through measures that reduce energy usage during times of peak demand.

•Public education efforts, including programs in schools and for teachers.

A new program approved by the PSC involves the use of advanced “smart” electric meters that can track the details of a customers’ usage. KU and LG&E are planning to provide the meters to as many as 5,000 customers per utility on a first-come, first-served basis.

Customers who receive the meters will have access to a website that allows them to see their own hour-by-hour usage within 48 hours of the time the data are collected.

PSC Chairman David Armstrong and Commissioner Linda Breathitt supported the advanced meter program. PSC Vice Chairman Jim Gardner did not. He said the companies did not apply a cost-benefit analysis to the program.

KU and LG&E are ubsidiaries of PPL Corp. LG&E has 397,000 electric customers and 321,000 natural gas customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 543,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties.

Luallen pledges to support Beshear as KY’s new lieutenant governor

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Crit Luallen, in her first public speech as Kentucky’s 56th lieutenant governor, told several hundred people in the Capitol Rotunda Friday that she is ready to help Gov. Steve Beshear with his “continuing efforts to build a Kentucky poised for a prosperous future.”

Luallen, who has served with six other Kentucky governors in high positions and was elected twice as state auditor, said the day was not one for laying out a new agenda but “to celebrate all that is right and good about our state’s past and its hope for the future.”

Luallen particiapted in a publc-swearing in ceremony that attracted various state officials like Attorney General Jack Conway, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate President Robert Stivers and other well-wishers.

Beshear named Luallen to be the state’s No. 2 public official to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job with the White House to help local officials throughout the country.

In his remarks at Friday’s public ceremony, Beshear said Luallen will help his administration in improving access to health care and creating jobs.

Luallen called on several family members and friends to participate in the ceremony.

Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart, who went to school with Luallen, served as moderator.

Catarine Hancock, Luallen’s great niece and a sophomore at Lexington’s Lafayette High School, sang the National Anthem.

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church in Woodford County, gave the invocation and Eleanor Jordan, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, introduced Luallen.

Franklin Circuit Court Judger Philip Shepherd, administered the public oath of office as Luallen’s husband, Lynn Luallen, held the Bible upon which she put her hand. A private swearing-in ceremony was held Thursday at the home of former Chief Justice John Palmore and Carol Palmore.

Centre College President John Roush provided the closing remarks and Colmon Elridge, executive assistant in the governor’s office, sang “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Governor’s School for the Arts Alumni offered the musical prelude for the ceremony that lasted about an hour.

A public reception was held in the Governor’s Mansion after the ceremony. Music there was provided by the Centre College Kentucky Ensemble.

Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files to run for state agriculture commissioner

With family members looking on, Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files for state agriculture commissioner.By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Farm radio show host Jean-Marie Lawson Spann made her Democratic bid for state agriculture commissioner official Wednesday by filing papers signed by former Gov. Paul Patton and former Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith.

With her husband, Bobby Spann of Union, and her parents, Sam and Beverly Lawson of Bowling Green, at her side, Lawson Spann filed her declaration papers in the secretary of state’s office in the Capitol.

Her mother will be her campaign treasurer. Her campaign manager will be named later, she said.

Lawson Spann had announced in June that she would be seeking the office now held by Republican James Comer of Tompkinsville. Comer is running for governor next year.

Lawson Spann is in her 10th year as host of the Jean-Marie Ag Show, a radio show about farm news. She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Lawson Spann was a two-term state president of the Kentucky Young Democrats, secretary of the Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, and a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Her husband is vice president of external affairs for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

Lawson Spann is the only candidate to file so far for agriculture commissioner. State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, had considered running for the seat but announced in September decided that he will not.

Patton and Smith are part of Lawson Spann’s so-called “Ag-Mazing Army.”

Others who have endorsed her candidacy include former Govs. Julian Carroll and Martha Layne Collins, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, former auditor and lieutenant governor-to-be Crit Luallen, former agriculture commissioners Ed Logsdon and David Boswell, and House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark.

Larry Clark will not seek re-election as No. 2 leader in state House

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-LouisvilleBy Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — In a surprise announcement Wednesday, House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark said he will not seek re-election to the chamber’s No. 2 post, which he has held since 1993.

Clark, D-Louisville, also said he “most likely” will retire from the state legislature when his upcoming term expires at the end of 2016.

He was re-elected last week for another two-year term from Jefferson County’s 46th District, defeating Republican David Rainey by capturing 65 percent of the vote.

“I have until January 2016 to finalize my decision,” Clark, 69, said about staying on in the legislature.
Legislators will elect their leaders at the beginning of the 2015 General Assembly that begins in January.

Clark, who has been in the House since 1984, distributed to reporters after Wednesday’s Legislative Research Commission meeting copies of a letter he had sent earlier in the day to House Speaker Greg Stumbo about his political plans.

He said in the letter that it is “now time to settle on an exit strategy for my transition from public service, particularly for the fine folks of the 46th District, as well as for our House caucus.”

He said when he first was elected speaker pro tem, there was little or no training available to prepare him for representing the members and working with the executive branch.

“With that in mid, I think that choosing a new speaker pro tem at this time, when we have an experienced leadership team and a sitting Democratic governor in Steve Beshear, will give that new member of leadership an opportunity over the next year to learn the job’s demands and best serve the interests of our caucus.”

Stumbo said he does not know who might replace Clark.

Mentioned as possible candidates for the job are House Licensing and Occupations Chairman Dennis Keene of Wilder, Denver Butler of Louisville, former House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green and House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly of Paris, who is running for lieutenant governor in 2015 with gubernatorial hopeful Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general.

Stumbo said he was “saddened” by Clark’s decision not to seek leadership. He called Clark “a friend.”
“We hope to keep him involved in a very high level as we move forward these next couple of years,” Stumbo said.

Asked if the job should go to a representative from Louisville, Stumbo said there has been an effort in recent years to spread out leadership across the state.

“It’s highly likely that at some point, if not at this time, Jefferson County will have a person in leadership,” he said.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Clark and he “did not agree on everything, but I say this with a great deal of respect, he was always an honorable person.

“You never had to figure out where Larry Clark was. He would tell you.”

State revenue receipts show gain in October

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — After four months of anemic growth, Kentucky’s General Fund revenue increased 4.6 percent in October compared to a year ago, State Budget Director Jane Driskell announced Monday.

Total revenue for the month was $755.7 million, compared to $722.5 million during October 2013.

Receipts have increased 1.9 percent for the first four months of the fiscal year, and need to grow 4.4 percent over the final eight months of this month to achieve the official revenue estimate of $9.8 million.

There is cause for concern but “no reason at this point to panic,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “We will just be carefully monitoring the situation.”

The General Fund, which pays for most state programs, had a solid month after a first quarter in which receipts grew only 1.1 percent, Driskell said.

“October was clearly a strong month of revenue growth as nominal collections grew $33.2 million, an amount higher than the nominal growth in the entire first quarter of fiscal year 2015,” she said.

The main contributions to the healthy growth in October were the individual income tax and sales taxes, which grew 4.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, while corporate and property receipts continued to underperform.

Road Fund receipts for October totaled $126.7 million, a 0.3 percent decrease. They can decline 2 percent over the next eight months and still meet the official yearly estimate of $1.54 billion.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/11/10/3531403/state-revenue-perks-up-in-october.html?sp=/99/322/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Motor vehicle usage tax receipts fell 4.3 percent for the month and have declined 1.4 percent so far this year. Motor fuels taxes increased 0.8 percent in October and have grown 1.4 percent for the year.

Driskell said October’s Road Fund performance is not unexpected.

“Road Fund collections continue to be weak, as we anticipated. Growth in motor fuels tax collections is limited by a decline in demand,” she said.

“Motor vehicle usage tax receipts have been hampered by the impact of recent legislation which provides for a new car trade-in. It is anticipated that the credit will reduce collections by $34 million in the current fiscal year.”

First candidate officially files for state office race in 2015

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Two days after an exhausting race in Kentucky for the U.S Senate, a candidate filed Thursday to run next year for a constitutional office.

Former Erlanger city councilman Steve Knipper, 44, of Independence, is the first candidate to file with the secretary of state’s office for the 2015 races. He filed Thursday as a Republican to run for secretary of state.

The office, now held by Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, keeps track of state business documents and oversees elections.

Grimes, who lost to Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in this week’s U.S. Senate race, is in her first term as secretary of state. She has the option of seeking re-election next year to another four-year term.

Knipper, an IT project manager for health provider Kentucky One, said in a phone interview that he thinks the office of secretary of state is “underutilized.”

Knipper said he would like to see the office get involved in electronic registration of voters and provide tighter security over elections.

He also said he is not slating with any particular candidate for governor. Two Republicans already have announced their bids for governor — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner. Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville has said he will run as a Democrat for governor.

All state constitutional offices, including governor, are up for election next year.

Filing for those offices began Nov. 5. The deadline to file is 4 p.m. Jan. 27.