RSSAuthor Archive for Jack Brammer

Absentee Voting in Nov. 3 General Election Now Open


FRANKFORT – Eligible voters may now cast mail-in absentee ballots in Kentucky’s Nov. 3 general election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Friday.

WEKU to air programs with gubernatorial candidates

Kentucky’s three candidates for governor will be featured in separate hour-long programs airing on WEKU-FM and two other Kentucky Public Radio stations on Sept. 15, Sept. 17 and Oct. 9.

The programs will each air at 1 p.m. EDT and feature, in succession, Republican nominee Matt Bevin, independent candidate Drew Curtis and Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

Matt Bevin names Jessica Ditto communications director


FRANKFORT — Jessica Ditto, who has more than 10 years of experience in political and public sector communications, was named Monday communications director and campaign spokesman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin.

Federal aid for July storm damage available for 3 more KY counties


FRANKFORT — Residents of three additional Kentucky counties with damage from severe storms and flooding in July are eligible for federal assistance, Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they are Breathitt, Fleming and Perry conties.

Federal funding was already available to affected individuals in the counties of Carter, Johnson, Rowan and Trimble.

“This is good news for residents of Breathitt, Fleming and Perry Counties as they work to recover from these devastating storms,” Beshear said. “Our emergency management officials have worked hard to document damage and help in recovery efforts. I encourage citizens in the eligible counties to register with FEMA.”

People in the specified counties who need assistance can apply with FEMA online at: or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Strong storms from July 11 to 20 caused heavy rain and flash flooding, which claimed lives, washed out roads and forced people from their homes in the affected communities.

Four deaths have been attributed to the flash flood in the mountain community of Flat Gap in Johnson County.

Breathitt, Fleming and Perry counties were already on the list of those eligible for public assistance.

In those counties, federal funding is available to local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.

The other eligible counties are Bracken, Carroll, Carter, Clay, Cumberland, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, Magoffin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Spencer, Trimble, Washington and Wolfe.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire state.

“This is a very positive outcome,” Kentucky Emergency Management director Michael Dossett said. “The incorporation of Breathitt, Perry and Fleming counties immediately makes available federal resources to impacted citizens for their long-term recovery efforts.”

Beshear issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for all of Kentucky on July 13. The state’s Emergency Operations Plan and the Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center were activated.

During the disaster, Beshear also issued an executive order prohibiting price gouging in the sale of goods and services in the state, and implemented other provisions to protect Kentucky consumers.

Additional information on KYEM’s Recovery Branch and FEMA’s assistance programs can be found at where you can also ‘like’ and ‘follow’ KYEM on Facebook and Twitter.

–Jack Brammer

State’s new fiscal year gets off to good start

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Kentucky’s new fiscal year has gotten off to a fairly good start.

State budget director Jane Driskell said Monday the state’s General Fund receipts for July, the first month of fiscal year 2016, rose 4 percent compared to July 2014 receipts.

Receipts in July for the General Fund, which pays for most state programs, were $738.8 million.

The official revenue estimate for this fiscal year calls for revenue to rise 1.0 percent compared to last fiscal year’s actual receipts.

Based on July’s results, General Fund revenues need to increase 0.8 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year to meet the official estimate.

Driskell said, “We are very pleased that the first month of the fiscal year maintained the same momentum that produced $165 million in unbudgeted revenues in fiscal year 2015.

“This month’s sales and use tax collections grew at a higher than expected rate and helped offset declines in other accounts.

“Nevertheless, the sales tax acts as a barometer of current economic conditions, such as consumer sentiment, disposable income, and future prospects of gainful employment. This is a continued sign that the underlying economy is moving in a positive direction.”

Among the major accounts, individual income tax receipts rose 1.1 percent, sales tax revenues grew 8.6 percent, corporation income tax collections rose 48.2 percent, cigarette tax collections jumped 10.6 percent and lottery revenues increased 3 percent.

On the down side, property tax receipts fell 16.8 percent and coal severance tax revenues declined 12.2 percent.

Driskell also announced that Road Fund revenues for July totaled $127.6 million, an increase of 1.8 percent compared to last July.

She noted that the modest growth in receipts was expected.

“A timing issue helped bump up motor vehicle usage tax receipts while motor fuels tax collections declined at the pace we expected,” she said.

The official Road Fund revenue estimate for this new fiscal year calls for revenue to increase 2.1 percent compared to last year’s actual receipts.

Based on the first month’s receipts, revenues must increase 2.1 percent for the rest of the fiscal year to meet budgeted levels.

Among the major Road Fund categories, motor fuels tax receipts fell 13.2 percent, motor vehicle usage tax increased 25.3 percent and license and privilege taxes grew 11.2 percent

The Consensus Forecasting Group, a panel of independent economists, will meet later this month to begin establishing revenue estimates for the next two-year budget that will be approved in the 2016 General Assembly.

Drew Curtis plans to file Monday as independent for governor

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Drew Curtis of Versailles plans to officially enter this year’s race for governor on Monday as an independent candidate.

Curtis, founder of, an Internet news aggregator, said Friday he has collected about 8,000 signatures, about 3,000 more than the 5,000 needed to get on the ballot.

Curtis’ wife, Heather, will be his running mate.

Tuesday is the last day a candidate can get on the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

The two major candidates for governor are Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway, both of Louisville.

Beshear seeks federal disaster aid for July’s flooding


FRANKFORT –Gov. Steve Beshear has asked President Obama to issue a major disaster declaration and provide emergency assistance to persons in four counties recovering from last month’s flooding.

Letters supporting Beshear’s request also were sent to the White House from U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers and Thomas Massie.

Strong storms from July 11 to July 20 caused heavy rain and flash flooding, which claimed lives, washed out roads and forced people from their homes in several communities, Beshear said.

In his letter to Obama, Beshear noted the four deaths attributed to the flash flood that destroyed the mountain community of Flat Gap in Johnson County.

Beshear is asking for a major disaster declaration of assistance for people in the counties of Carter, Johnson, Rowan and Trimble.

Family Foundation plans Aug. 22 ‘Religious Freedom’ rally


FRANKFORT – The Family Foundation, a conservative group based in Lexington, is to hold a “First Amendment/Religious Freedom Rally” at noon Aug. 22 on the front steps of the Capitol.

“We cannot sit around any longer waiting to see if the governor will do his job on behalf of the county clerks,” said Kent Ostrander, executive director of The Family Foundation in a release Monday.

“Their rights and the First Amendment are too important to sit back and only hope.”

Ostrander was referring to Gov. Steve Beshear’s direction to county clerks to do their job after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that same-sex marriages were legal in all states.

A few Kentucky county clerks said their religious beliefs prohibit them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The ACLU of Kentucky has sued Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, and is awaiting a decision by a federal judge.

Ostrander said his organization is inviting to the rally “everyone who will stand with the county clerks and for the First Amendment to come to the Capitol and deliver their message in person.

“And our message is that the Supreme Court decision on marriage, now final, should not be used to erode any of the cornerstone birthright of every American – religious liberty.”

Ostrander said Beshear has not done enough to protect the religious liberties of the state’s county clerks.

He referred to a 2013 state law that outlines protections and the government’s duty to accommodate citizens when it has a compelling interest that conflicts with sincerely-held religious beliefs.

In this case, Ostrander said, the compelling interest is issuing marriage licenses to heterosexual and same-sex couples alike, but there has been no accommodation for the clerks.

2 GOP lawmakers sponsor bill to exempt county clerks, ministers from liability for following religious beliefs on same-sex marriage

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT — Two Republican state representatives said Wednesday they are sponsoring legislation that would exempt county clerks from civil or criminal liability if they refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections.

Reps. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, and David Meade, R-Stanford, said in a news release that their legislation also would protect ministers who don’t want to perform such marriages.

Earlier this month, state Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, pre-filed a bill that would prohibit the state from requiring religious organizations or leaders to perform same-sex ceremonies. That bill would also protect such organizations and leaders from being sued for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

“There have been numerous media reports about county clerks who have expressed real concerns about how issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples violates their religious beliefs and convictions,” Lee said Wednesday.

“There are reports of as many as half of all county clerks who want a legislative solution to this issue. There is no doubt many others who are afraid to speak out due to the threat of civil lawsuits or criminal prosecution.”

The ACLU of Kentucky has filed a lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. The suit is pending in U.S. District Court.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis also has refused to issue licenses on religious objections.

“If we truly believe in the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, then shouldn’t our clergy, as well as our county clerks, be entitled to this added protection?” Meade asked.

The bill was pre-filed for consideration in the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said legislation dealing with ministers is not necessary because the Supreme Court ruling had no impact on ministers who decide not to marry same-sex partners.

He said the group opposes any attempt to exempt county clerks from liability for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

“Why stop there?” Hartman said. “I can think of many amendments to add to allow our officials not to the do the jobs they were elected to do.”

Kentucky unveils new campaign to promote HPV vaccine

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT –Kentucky will start a statewide campaign July 20 to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause cervical and oral cancer.

Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Health and Family Services Audrey Haynes and state Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield announced the campaign Monday at a Capitol news conference.

Luallen said a $500,000 federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will pay for the campaign that will run through September and feature TV, radio and print ads developed by Louisville-based Doe Anderson.

The vaccine is for girls and boys.

Kentucky trails the national average of children vaccinated for the virus.

Currently, only 27 percent of Kentucky girls ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended three doses of the HPV vaccine compared to 38 percent throughout the nation, and only 19 percent of the state boys have received only one dose.

Dr. Hatim Omar, a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine who runs an adolescent health clinic at UK, said in a statement that nearly everyone will get one or more types of HPV in his or her life.

That will cause in some, he said, genital warts, cervical, vulvar, penile, oral and other cancers.

“The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing 70-90 percent of these diseases, which makes it a no-brainer to have everyone eligible immunized,” Omar said.

The target group for the vaccine is children 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should ask their health-care provider about it, said Mayfield.

Women can get the vaccine through age 26 and men can get vaccinated through age 21.

The vaccine includes three injections in the arm over a year.

Health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine. The Vaccines for Children programs helps families of eligible children who do not have access to vaccines.