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Ethics commission: Former wildlife official mistreated women employees

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A former official of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources created an oppressive work environment for women by telling them what clothes to wear and asking one to show her breasts, according to an ethics settlement released Monday.

In a settlement approved by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission Monday, Kenneth “Scott” King of Frankfort did not contest charges that he violated state ethics laws by using his position as the department’s assistant administrative services director to “create an oppressive and hostile atmosphere in his division to suit his own prurient, personal interests.”

The agreement said King told subordinate employees to wear certain articles of clothing he favored and to wear short skirts and high heels to meetings, and on one occasion told an employee to allow him to see her breasts in exchange for favorable treatment at work.

Also, during staff meetings, King would tell women employees which of their body parts he and other male supervisors preferred.

In the agreement, King also admitted using the department’s John Deere tractor for personal use.

‘Comment’ will discuss Comer’s bid for governor

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer’s announcement this week that he is an official candidate for governor will be one of the topics on this weekend’s “Comment on Kentucky,” a public affairs show of the Kentucky Educational Television Network.

Joining interim host Bill Bryant of Lexington’s WKYT-TV, will be Adam Beam of the Associated Press, Lawrence Smith of Louisville’s WDRB-TV AND Scott Wartman of The Kentucky Enquirer.

The show will air live at 8 p.m. Friday on KET.

“Kentucky Tonight’ on KET will be preempted on Monday, Sept. 15, by “Roosevelts: An Intimate History.”

–Jack Brammer

Funeral arrangements set for Charlann Harting Carroll

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU Visitation and funeral arrangements for Charlann Harting Carroll, the wife of former Gov. Julian Carroll who died Wednesday at the age of 81, have been set. Both visitation and the funeral will be held at the Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church at 495 Duckers Road off U.S. Highway 421 near Frankfort and […]

State General Fund gains while Road Fund dips a bit in August

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – The state’s General Fund, which pays for most state programs, improved in August while the state Road Fund dipped ever so slightly.

State budget director Jane C. Driskell said Wednesday that General Fund receipts increased 1.2 percent in August compared to the same month last year.

Total revenues for the month were $671.9 million, compared to $663.7 million during August 2013.

So far this fiscal year 2015 that began July 1, General Fund receipts have increased 1.7 percent.

The official revenue estimate for the fiscal year calls for revenue to increase 3.6 percent compared to last year’s actual receipts.

Based on August results, General Fund revenues need to grow 3.9 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year to meet the official estimate.

Despite the low rate of growth, there were some encouraging undertones reflected in the monthly numbers.

Driskell said she was “pleased to see two solid performances from our largest revenue sources, the individual income tax and year-to-date sales tax revenues.”

On the income tax side, growth in withholding payments (payroll taxes) grew 9.7 percent, following growth of 6.5 percent in July.

The growth rate on sales tax receipts was only 1.1 percent for the month, but 4.4 percent year to date.

Driskell said potential weakness in the corporate income tax continues to be a concern.

“September corporate income receipts will be a more appropriate barometer, as it is the first month in fiscal year 2015 where estimated quarterly payments are due. We’ll be in a better position to reexamine the fiscal year projections once the first quarter is complete.”

Among the major General Fund accounts:

● Individual income taxes increased 9 percent almost entirely due to withholding

● Sales tax revenues rose 1.1 percent and have increased 4.4 percent through the first two months.

● Corporation income tax collections declined $11.4 million as both declarations and net

payments. Collections year-to-date are up 7.5 percent.

● Cigarette taxes fell 0.3 percent but have grown 0.9 percent for the year.

● Property taxes grew 30.3 percent (timing issues) but have decreased 7.0 for the fiscal

● Coal severance tax collections increased 5.9 percent in August but are down 4.9 percent

● Lottery revenues grew 6.3 percent on the basis of a $17.0 million dividend payment.

Receipts for the Road Fund fell 0.1 percent in August with revenues of $141.1 million.

The official Road Fund revenue estimate calls for a 0.9 percent decline in receipts for the entire fiscal year

Based on year-to-date collections, revenues can decrease 1.5 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year and still meet the estimate.

Among the accounts:

• Motor fuels fell 0.7 percent in August but have increased 0.9 percent for the year.

• Motor vehicle usage collections decreased 0.9 percent for the month but have grown

0.2 percent for the first two months of the fiscal year.

• License and privilege tax fell 4.4 percent.

• Nont-tax receipts increased $2.4 million and are up $2.1 million for the fiscal year.

McConnell tries to put Mill Springs Battlefield in national park system

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday to support making Mill Springs Battlefield in Southern Kentucky part of the National Park System.

McConnell’s legislation directs the U.S. Secretary of Interior to evaluate including the Civil War battlefield as a national park. Such a feasibility study makes a final national park designation easier to achieve.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, successfully introduced and backed identical legislation earlier this year in the U.S. House.

Senate President seeks legal opinion on ‘right-to-work’ option for counties

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Senate President Robert Stivers asked for an attorney general’s opinion Monday on whether Kentucky counties can adopt so-called ‘right-to-work’ provisions that let employees work in unionized businesses without joining the union or paying dues.

Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said in a news release that he is seeking the opinion from Attorney General Jack Conway because Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell recently opined that the Louisville Metro Government has the authority to require a higher minimum wage than the minimum wage established by federal or state law.

“Using Mr. O’Connell’s analysis, a county should also be able to establish itself as a right-to-work county,” said Stivers.

The Senate leader noted that he sought the request as legislators prepare for the 2015 General Assembly that begins in January. Republicans in the state Senate have pushed the issue for years, but House Democrats oppose the measure.

Many Republicans say such a state law is needed to spur economic development while many Democrats argue it would lower wages by weakening unions.

A recent Bluegrass Poll found that 55 percent of Kentuckians favor changing state laws to allow people to work in businesses that have unions without joining the union or paying union dues. Twenty-eight percent of those polled were opposed.

Stivers said the issue “will be of continuing interest to localities that are looking for innovative ways to attract new businesses.”

He noted that 24 states have enacted “right-to-work” laws that are not pre-empted by federal law.

Stivers was not immediately available to take questions about his request. O’Connell, a Democrat, was not immediately available for comment.

Conway spokeswoman Allison Gardner Martin, said the attorney general’s office will review Stivers’ request.

Oct. 6 is deadline to register to vote in fall elections

Alison Lundergan Grimes

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Oct. 6 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reminded eligible Kentuckians Monday.

County clerks’ offices throughout Kentucky will accept voter registration cards until the close of business on that date, she said in a statement. Mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked by Oct. 6.

Under the Military Heroes Voting Initiative, new legislation proposed by Grimes, qualified military and overseas voters may now register to vote and update their registration information electronically through the State Board of Elections’ new Federal Post Card Application Wizard.

The application, along with other resources for military and overseas voters, is available at www.elect.ky.gov. Applications submitted electronically must be received by the county clerk by close of business on Oct. 6.

“Military voters often move from place to place, which can make it hard for them to maintain accurate voter registration records,” said Grimes. “I’m excited that, for the first time in Kentucky, they can complete essential voter registration functions electronically. This initiative provides them valuable tools that will help ensure they have a meaningful opportunity to participate in elections back home.”

To be eligible to vote, you must meet the following criteria: be a U.S. citizen; be a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before Election day; be at least 18 years old by the date of the next general election; not be a convicted felon, or if convicted of a felony offense, must have obtained a restoration of civil rights; not have been adjudged “mentally incompetent;” and not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.

Voters who have recently moved need to update their voter registration information no later than Oct. 6.

Persons who move from one county to another county while the voter registration books are open and fail to update their registration information before the voter registration books close are not permitted to vote in the election.

Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can register and update their registration while keeping their names and addresses out of publicly available voter records.

“The future of Kentucky and our nation depend on all eligible voters participating in the process,” said Grimes. “Registering to vote is the first step in being a part of the 2014 elections, and I hope that as many Kentuckians as are able will make their voices heard.”

You can check your current registration status on the Voter Information Center, https://cdcbp.ky.gov/VICWeb/index.jsp.

To obtain a registration card or for more information about registering to vote, visit www.elect.ky.gov or contact your county clerk or the State Board of Elections at (502) 573-7100.

Democratic state Sen. Parrett eyeing possible run for state farm commissioner

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Dennis Parrett, a Democratic state senator from Elizabethtown, is “definitely considering” running for state agriculture commissioner in 2015.

He said Wednesday that he will decide within the next few weeks whether to enter the race that already has attracted a Democratic candidate.

“I have an interest in seeing agriculture move forward in this state,” Parrett, a farm supplier who has represented the 10th Senate district of Hardin and part of Jefferson County since 2011, said in a telephone interview.

Parrett, who will turn 55 on Oct. 30, had no opposition in this year’s primary and general elections for his legislative seat. He
is a farmer and the co-owner of Cecilia Farm Service in Hardin County. He is a former agriculture extension agent in Hardin and Nelson counties and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky.

Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, a Democrat who is the host of a weekly radio show about farm news in Kentucky, announced her plans in June to run for state agriculture commissioner next year.

She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment in Bowling Green.

Asked about running against Lawson Spann, Parrett said, “I would not be running against her. I would be running for the office.”

Lawson Spann said in an email that she is focused on running her campaign.

“I have a plan to recruit and grow markets for our farmers’ products, to grow jobs and to improve Kentucky’s economy,” she said. “I do not think it is appropriate for me to comment about someone who is not officially committed to running for the office.”

The current state agriculture commissioner, Republican James Comer, has decided to run next year for governor. He is to officially announce his candidacy and running mate Sept. 9 in his hometown of Tompkinsville.

Centre College drops efforts to host U.S. Senate debate

McConnellGrimes
By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

Centre College has hosted two vice presidential debates this century but could not get the U.S. Senate campaigns of Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to agree over details for a debate between them this year on the Danville campus.

Centre College President John A. Roush said there did not appear any willingness by any campaign to come to an agreement.

Centre College’s website announced Monday that the liberal arts college has canceled efforts for a U.S. Senate debate on Sept. 3.

The decision came after weeks of planning and several conversations with the two candidates’ campaign officials following a July 17 announcement by AARP, WAVE3 News in Louisville and Centre proposing a debate on the same stage as the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates.

Centre originally requested that the candidates respond to the invitation by Aug.1, but college officials discussed and met with campaign representatives after that date in an effort to come to agreement over details regarding format and structure.

“My disappointment runs deep for the citizens of Kentucky, who deserve to make an informed decision on election day,” said Centre President Roush. “We had every indication early on that agreement could be reached, but as time wore on, compromise on the part of both campaigns simply didn’t occur.”

“Campaigns have differences and the stakes in any race are high,” Roush said. “However, at the end of the day, I am more inclined to believe that there was really no willingness on the part of either campaign to come to agreement.”

The final attempt to receive a “yes” or “no” took the form of an open letter by Roush on Aug. 20 to “Fellow Kentuckians,” asking for support via social media.

In his letter, Roush expressed an interest in putting “in place a format for a civilized, meaningful discussion between the candidates to learn more about them and their aspirations for serving the Commonwealth and to get past the carefully rehearsed, contrived, and sometimes mean-spirited advertising that increasingly characterizes political campaigns these days.”

While this did prompt a few last-minute conversations over the weekend with campaign officials, none were substantive enough to prevent cancellation, Roush said.

The two candidates appeared on the same stage earlier this month at the Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County and at a forum last week at the Kentucky Farm Bureau headquarters in Louisville.

Their only remaining scheduled joint appearance is Oct. 13 on the Kentucky Educational Television network.

‘Comment’ focuses on U.S. Senate race; ‘KY Tonight’ will discuss energy

The latest in the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky between Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes will be discussed on this weekend’s “Comment on Kentucky,” a public affairs show on the Kentucky Educational Television network.

Joining interim host Bill Bryant of Lexington’s WKYT-TV will be three journalists — Phillip M. Bailey of WFPL in Louisville, Amanda Van Benschoten of The Kentucky Enquirer and Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The show will air live at 8 p.m. Friday on KET.

On the Monday, Aug. 25, edition of “Kentucky Tonight” at 8 p.m. on KET and at KET.org/live, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss energy policy.

Scheduled guests are Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council;
Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association; Sarah Lynn Cunningham, an environmental engineer and educator and director of the Louisville Climate Action Network; and Steve Gardner, president and CEO of ECSI and president-elect of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form at KET.org/kytonight. Viewers may also submit questions on Twitter @BillKET or on KET’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KET. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

“Kentucky Tonight” programs are available online at KET.org and are rebroadcast on KET, KET KY, and radio.

“Kentucky Tonight” is a weekly KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Goodman is host and managing editor.

–Jack Brammer