By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Kentucky Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes announced Thursday he will retire from the position later this year after seven years in the job.
Gov. Steve Beshear, as chair of the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board, said the board will conduct a national search to replace Hayes.
No firm departure date has been set for Hayes, of Louisville, to step down.
Timing will be based upon completion of a successful transition period so not to disrupt ongoing project activities and discussions, said a release from the Economic Development Cabinet. The job pays $250,000 a year.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield, a Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner in Tuesday’s primary election, asked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes Thursday for a statewide recanvass.
Unofficial vote totals currently show Heath wth a 1,427-vote deficit to his opponent, state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown.
Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said she will forward Heath’s request to all county clerks and remind them of the procedures for a recanvass.
“Our office is always available to assist county boards of elections in any way we can,” Grimes said. “Integrity in our elections processes is crucial, and Kentuckians deserve to know that their votes are properly counted and tabulated.”
On Wednesday, Grimes received a statewide recanvass request from James R. Comer and Chris McDaniel, Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. They trail the GOP ticket of Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.
County boards of elections will convene at 9 a.m. May 28 to recheck and recanvass the voting machines. Immediately upon completion of the recanvass, the county boards of elections will file their recanvass reports with Grimes.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday that her office is prepared for a potential recanvass in Tuesday’s razor-close Republican primary election for governor.
Unofficial results show Louisville businessman Matt Bevin with an 83-vote lead over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.
Comer has said he plans to ask for a recanvass.
“Both candidates and the public are entitled to confidence in election results, and I stand ready to facilitate any proceedings necessary to provide those assurances,” said Grimes, the state’s chief election official in a statement.
“My office is prepared and will continue to provide updates regarding any recanvass requests we receive and the procedures being followed.”
To obtain a recanvass in a statewide election, a candidate must submit a written request to the Secretary of State’s office no later than 4 p.m. Eastern Time on May 26.
The request may be limited to certain precincts or counties or seek a statewide recanvass.
Once the request is made, Grimes’ office will communicate it to all county boards of elections involved.
Under Kentucky law, the county boards of elections for the counties in which a recanvass was requested will convene at 9 a.m. on May 28 to recheck and recanvass each voting machine and make a return to the county clerk.
That will become the official return for the county.
Each candidate and both political parties are entitled to have a representative present at the recanvass. In addition, the county board of elections shall authorize members of the media to observe.
The purpose of a recanvass is to verify the accuracy of the vote totals reported from the voting machines.
The method for conducting the recanvass depends on the type of voting machine and is set forth in an administrative regulation.
No voting machines are unlocked during the recanvass. If there was an error in the original canvass, the returns will be corrected.
The county board of elections must file its recanvass report with the secretary of state immediately upon completion of the recanvass.
On May 11, Grimes office sent to all county clerks vote total certification forms and a memorandum with the procedures and forms to be used in the event a recanvass is requested.
Since January 2011, the secretary of state’s office has received five recanvass requests – three for legislative offices and two for judicial offices.
The recanvass results did not change the outcome of those elections.
The last statewide recanvass occurred in the 2011 Republican Primary for the office of Secretary of State between Bill Johnson and Hilda Legg.
The recanvass resulted in a change of 6 votes in favor of Hilda Legg, the losing candidate, but did not change the outcome of the election.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting only 10 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election.
Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said a review of absentee data from county clerks and historical turnout for similar elections indicates that about 10 percent of the 3.1 million people registered to vote in Kentucky will go to the polls Tuesday.
Races in play are for governor and the state’s other constitutional offices.
In 2011, the last election for statewide constitutional officers in Kentucky, 10.35 percent of voters went to the polls for the primary, said Grimes.
About 17 percent of the Kentucky electorate voted in the 2003 primary election, which is the last time there was not an incumbent candidate for the office of governor.
As of May 11, she said, 3,388 voters had voted absentee on machines in county clerks’ offices and 3,586 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters.
Grimes urged voters to prepare to vote on May 19 by checking their polling places and viewing sample ballots.
FRANKFORT –Kentucky’s General Fund, which pays for most state programs, had its best month ever in collections in April and is expected to finish this fiscal year on June 30 with a $46.1 million surplus.
But the state’s Road Fund, which pays for highway and other transportation projects, dropped 12.8 percent in April collections and is on course to end this fiscal year $11.1 million short of what was expected.
The Jekyll-and-Hyde financial news for the state came Tuesday when state budget director Jane C. Driskell reported that Kentucky took in more than $1 billion in General Fund receipts in April, the most ever for any month in the state’s history.
Total General Fund revenues for the month were nearly $1.03 billion, compared to $830.2 million in April 2014.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Nearly 3.2 million Kentuckians are registered to vote in the May 19 primary election — the most ever, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Monday.
The total number of registered voters – 3,175,905 – beats the 3,147,157 registered for last November’s general election held in November 2014.
The difference is an increase of approximately 1 percent, or 28,748 voters, over five months.
“I am excited to see that more and more Kentuckians are registering to vote, and I hope these newly registered voters will exercise their right and responsibility to vote in the primary election,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official.
Of the registered voters, 2,923,556 are affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat party, making them potentially eligible to vote for partisan offices, including statewide constitutional officers, on the primary ballot.
Both political parties have seen an increase in registered voters since the May 20, 2014, primary election and since 2011, the last election year for statewide constitutional officers, Grimes said.
Democrats currently make up 53.09 percent of Kentucky voters, while 38.97 percent are Republicans. 7.94 percent of voters are identified as “Other.”
Approximately 53 percent of registered voters are women and 47 percent are men, which is consistent with the 2014 election cycle.
“As Kentucky’s chief advocate for civic engagement, I hope all eligible voters will head to the polls and vote on Election Day,” said Grimes. “There are various methods for registered Kentuckians to vote, including going to the polls on May 19, voting in county clerks’ offices before Election Day, or casting a mail-in absentee ballot, so I urge all Kentuckians to know their options and make their voices heard.”
Voters may access the Voter Information Center (VIC) on the State Board of Elections’ website to confirm their voter registration status, view sample ballots, and locate their polling place.
For complete registration statistics, additional election information, or to access the VIC, visit elect.ky.gov.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
Elsie Crawford Case of Maysville, who appeared in TV campaign commercials for her granddaughter, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, died Thursday. She was 84.
“Granny was my biggest fan and fiercest advocate, and knowing she was in my corner always gave me the strength and confidence to dream big and work to make it a reality,” Grimes said in a release.
Case earned a fan base of her own during Grimes’ 2011 campaign for the office of secretary of state, filming commercials and encouraging citizens to vote in the election alongside Thelma Lundergan McHugh, Grimes’ late paternal grandmother.
In 2014, Case expanded her presence, using Facebook and Twitter accounts and her “Grannies for Grimes” initiative to champion issues that particularly affect seniors. Case quickly became known as “Kentucky’s Grandma,” inspiring many and gaining recognition nationwide.
Case and her late husband of 61 years, Omar Case, Jr., were also prominent fixtures in their hometown of Maysville. The Cases owned and operated Case’s Men’s Wear, a men’s clothing store, for more than 30 years and helped revitalize the downtown area.
“As people across Kentucky can attest, Granny’s spirit was infectious. She was not just passionate about what she believed in; she shared that passion along with sharp humor and wit, and a hug for anyone who needed one,” said Grimes.
Case is survived by two children, seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, one brother and three sisters.
Visitation will be at the First Christian Church in Maysville from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. The funeral will be held Monday, at 1 p.m.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – John R. Steffen, head of the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission, is leaving the post in mid-May to become head of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Steffen, 48, of Georgetown, will replace at the registry Sarah M. Jackson, who retired last fall. The registry administers Kentucky’s campaign finance law and ensures public access to campaign financial data and reports.
The ethics commission, which is to meet May 4, will determine who will replace Steffen at the independent agency which oversees ethical standards that govern the conduct of all executive branch employees.
Steffen’s annual salary at the ethics commission is $97,488. Jackson’s salary when she left the registry was $121,182.
During his seven years as executive director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, Steffen has been involved in several heavily publicized cases, including investigations of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, the state Fish and Wildlife Department, nepotism involving property valuation administrators and the state merit system.
“I’m very excited about this new opportunity but I will miss the people I’ve been working with at the ethics commission,” Steffen said in a phone interview Monday.
Steffen was general counsel of the ethics commission from 2004 to 2008, before being named director.
He also is a major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, where he has been a reservist since 2000. He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, serving in active duty form 2003-2004 and 2008-2009.
Before his service at the ethics commission, Steffen was assistant general counsel for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet and staff attorney for the Public Service Commission and the Labor Cabinet.
“John is uniquely qualified for the position of executive director at the registry,” registry chairman Craig Dilger, a Louisville attorney, said in a statement.
“His range of experiences will quickly prove to be a tremendous resource, not only for registry members and staff but also for candidates, committees, the media and the public.”
Steffen has a law degree from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Centre College.
“Kentucky Tonight,” a weekly public affairs show on the Kentucky Educational Television network, will start on March 30 its candidate programs for the May 19 primary elections.
Hosted by Bill Goodman, the programs will begin at 8 p.m. on KET and will also stream live at KET.org/live and be archived online.
The scheduled candidates are:
Republicans for State Treasurer
– Allison Ball
– State Rep. Kenneth Churchill Imes
Democrats for State Treasurer
– Neville Blakemore
– State Rep.Rick Nelson
April 20 (two-part)
Republicans for Attorney General
– Lawrence County Attorney Michael T. Hogan
– State Sen. Whitney H. Westerfield
Republicans for Commissioner of Agriculture
– State Rep. Richard Heath
– State Rep. Ryan F. Quarles
KET plans to announce its programs for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor after April 10.
KET said candidates appearing on these programs have “demonstrated satisfaction of KET’s candidate invitation criteria, published at www.KET.org/candidate-invitation-criteria-2015.”
Live primary election night coverage from KET begins at 7 p.m. on May 19.
Prior to that, additional election coverage and analysis continues on “Comment on Kentucky,” and the topic of the May 18 Kentucky Tonight program will be the election.
Kentucky Tonight is a KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Goodman is host and managing editor.
KET serve more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile.
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Monday a bill that will provide the University of Kentucky with $132.5 million in state bonds for a six-story medical research center.
“This projects represents the potential to improve the lives of so many, both within Kentucky where our health outcomes are so poor, and beyond,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference with several legislators and Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president of research.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto was not able to attend because of a stomach virus.
House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, authorizes spending $5.6 million on debt payments for the bonds this year and $11 million in subsequent years.
UK will provide another $132.5 million for the project through research contracts and private donations.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the project is personal to him since he has had many relatives and friends treated at UK for cancer.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the ramifications of the center are “wide-ranging.”
Stumbo also apologized to Capilouto, saying he initially thought Capilouto was “not up for the job” to be UK president but that Capilouto has proved him wrong.
The center, which would house researchers from several disciplines, is to be built on UK’s campus near South Limestone and Virginia Avenue.
UK plans to begin construction by the end of the year.
The health challenges those researchers will address include cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable illnesses.