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Rick Perry will help raise funds for state House GOP candidates

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is to be the keynote speaker March 15 at the West Kentucky Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Murray to raise funds for Republican state House candidates in Western Kentucky.

Steve Hamrick of Murray, who is helping coordinate the event, said Friday that he expects 300 or more to attend the dinner at Murray State University’s Curris Center Ballroom. Tickets for it range from $951 to sit at a table with Perry and $51 for general table seating.

It also will cost $251 to sit at a table either with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville or state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.

The prices ended in $51 to represent the 51 seats Republicans need in the state House to gain control of the 100-member chamber for the first time since 1921. Now, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 54 to 46.

Hamrick said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green was invited to the dinner but probably will not be able to attend because of a scheduling conflict.

Both Paul and Perry have been mentioned as possible candidates for president in 2016.

Hamrick noted that Perry was in Iowa, the leadoff presidential caucus state, Thursday night. The Associated Press reported that Perry was in Iowa for his second visit since last November to help the state’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, seek re-election.

Perry was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 2012.

Elected Texas governor in 2000, Perry, 63, is not seeking re-election next year.

Besides the March 15 dinner at 6 p.m. Central Time, Perry is to participate in a meet-and-greet reception at 5 p.m. with Kentucky Republican officeholders and retired Lt. General Leroy Sisco, founder of Military Warriors Support Foundation that helps combat wounded soldiers.

Tickets for the dinner, which is open to all Kentuckians, may be purchased at www.callowaygop.org.

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is to be the keynote speaker March 15 at the West Kentucky Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Murray to raise funds for Republican state House candidates in Western Kentucky.

Steve Hamrick of Murray, who is helping coordinate the event, said Friday that he expects 300 or more to attend the dinner at Murray State University’s Curris Center Ballroom. Tickets for it range from $951 to sit at a table with Perry and $51 for general table seating.

It also will cost $251 to sit at a table either with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville or state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.

The prices ended in $51 to represent the 51 seats Republicans need in the state House to gain control of the 100-member chamber for the first time since 1921. Now, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 54 to 46.

Hamrick said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green was invited to the dinner but probably will not be able to attend because of a scheduling conflict.

Both Paul and Perry have been mentioned as possible candidates for president in 2016.

Hamrick noted that Perry was in Iowa, the leadoff presidential caucus state, Thursday night. The Associated Press reported that Perry was in Iowa for his second visit since last November to help the state’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, seek re-election.

Perry was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 2012.

Elected Texas governor in 2000, Perry, 63, is not seeking re-election next year.

Besides the March 15 dinner at 6 p.m. Central Time, Perry is to participate in a meet-and-greet reception at 5 p.m. with Kentucky Republican officeholders and retired Lt. General Leroy Sisco, founder of Military Warriors Support Foundation that helps combat wounded soldiers.

Tickets for the dinner, which is open to all Kentuckians, may be purchased at www.callowaygop.org.

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is to be the keynote speaker March 15 at the West Kentucky Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Murray to raise funds for Republican state House candidates in Western Kentucky.

Steve Hamrick of Murray, who is helping coordinate the event, said Friday that he expects 300 or more to attend the dinner at Murray State University’s Curris Center Ballroom. Tickets for it range from $951 to sit at a table with Perry and $51 for general table seating.

It also will cost $251 to sit at a table either with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville or state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.

The prices ended in $51 to represent the 51 seats Republicans need in the state House to gain control of the 100-member chamber for the first time since 1921. Now, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 54 to 46.

Hamrick said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green was invited to the dinner but probably will not be able to attend because of a scheduling conflict.

Both Paul and Hamrick have been mentioned as possible candidates for president in 2016.

Hamrick noted that Perry was in Iowa, the leadoff presidential caucus state, Thursday night. The Associated Press reported that Perry was in Iowa for his second visit since last November to help the state’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, seek re-election.

Perry was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 2012.

Elected Texas governor in 2000, Perry, 63, is not seeking re-election next year.

Besides the March 15 dinner at 6 p.m. Central Time, Perry is to participate in a meet-and-greet reception at 5 p.m. with Kentucky Republican officeholders and retired Lt. General Leroy Sisco, founder of Military Warriors Support Foundation that helps combat wounded soldiers.

Tickets for the dinner, which is open to all Kentuckians, may be purchased at www.callowaygop.org.

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.

Duncan to be in Louisville on Thursday

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The country’s top education official will be in Louisville Thursday to make an announcement about early childhood education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will participate in a roundtable discussion and a press conference on Thursday, according to Gov. Steve Beshear’s Office of Early Childhood Education. Duncan will also visit a classroom at St. Benedict Center for Early Childhood Education in Louisville.

Judge rules cabinet has 30 days to comply with Open Records law

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A Franklin Circuit Court judge has given the state 30 days to tell the state’s two largest newspapers why it redacted and took out information from more than 140 case files of children who have been killed or nearly killed from abuse or neglect.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd also ordered Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes to appoint a high-level staffer to oversee the cabinet’s compliance with his order.

Shepherd’s decision on Thursday came after a nearly two-hour hearing in Franklin Circuit Court on the status of the case that has taken almost three years to litigate.

Shepherd said that he would like Haynes to appoint someone by June 10 to oversee the cabinet’s compliance with the Open Records Act. Shepherd also said that he hopes the cabinet will provide detailed explanations of why information was removed by June 10 but gave the cabinet some leeway in case it takes longer given the number of case files involved. The newspapers are asking for the case files of children who have been killed or nearly killed from abuse and neglect in 2009 and 2010.

Beshear defends plan to reward school districts that raise dropout age

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday defended a plan to give $10,000 grants to more than 50 school districts if they increase their dropout age from 16 to 18 in coming months.

“I think it’s money well spent,” Beshear told reporters during a news conference Monday on an unrelated topic.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, sent Beshear a letter last week questioning why the state would spend $570,000 on the plan when there are so many other needs in Kentucky schools.

“I find it disturbing the Commissioner of the Department of Education is offering more than $500,000 in public education funds to advance this agenda while tens of thousands of children in Kentucky are desperately in need of textbooks,” Hoover said in his letter to the governor. “Ten years from now it will not matter that we have raised the minimum age for high school dropouts if we continue down this path of spending money which without a doubt no member of the legislature or the public was told was available.”

Beshear said Monday that money for the grants comes from a $570,000 fund that is earmarked to help keep kids in school longer.

“The money comes from dropout prevention monies that have been appropriated to the department, so it’s exactly what the money should be spent on,” Beshear said. “The money could not be used for textbooks anyway.”

State revenues up slightly for March, revenues for road projects down

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — State receipts were up slightly in March compared to the previous March but revenues used to fund road projects were down for the first time since November, numbers released Wednesday show.

Revenue collections grew o.4 percent — an increase of $3 million — from March 2012, according to the Office of State Budget Director. Total revenues for March were $735.8 million compared to $732.8 million the previous March.

Abramson tells Louisville blog he supports marriage equality

Gov. Steve Beshear and Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson

FRANKFORT — Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson has told a Louisville news blog that he supports marriage equality for all adults.

“I don’t believe government should judge which adults can and which cannot make a loving, life-long commitment to each other. That’s why both Madeline (his wife) and I support marriage equality for all adults,” Abramson said in a statement to Fat Lip, a blog of LEO Weekly, an alternative weekly in Louisville.

The blog reported Monday that it had asked several Kentucky officials their views on marriage equality, including Gov. Steve Beshear.

Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Abramson and Beshear, confirmed the statements made by Kentucky’s top two elected officials.

Beshear did not take a stance on same-sex marriage in his statement.

“In regard to marriage, Kentuckians overwhelmingly voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that banned same-gender marriage and have made the decision for the Commonwealth,” Beshear said.

He was referring to Kentucky’s 2004 constitutional amendment, which prohibited the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Comer shuts down fuel-testing lab, says it’s wasting taxpayers’ money

[caption id="attachment_6083" align="alignright" width="166"]Agriculture Commissioner James Comer Agriculture Commissioner James Comer[/caption]

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced Wednesday that he was shutting down a fuel testing lab that cost $3.1 million to build because it was a waste of taxpayer money.

The Department of Agriculture will send its fuel samples to a private company in Texas for testing. By shutting down the laboratory and outsourcing the testing, the state could save upwards of $600,000 a year, agriculture officials said Wednesday.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and his staff had told the legislature in 2008 that the state could generate money by investing approximately $3.1 million in a fuel testing lab and make money by testing fuel from surrounding states. The lab could also test pesticides as well, former agriculture officials said. Comer, who is a former state representative, said that Farmer’s staff had repeatedly told the legislature that they had contracts with surrounding states.

When Comer took over the department from Farmer in 2012, he learned those contracts never existed.

Beshear appoints appeals court judge to state’s highest court

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — For the first time in Kentucky history, three women will sit on Kentucky’s highest court.

On Wednesday, Gov. Steve Beshear tapped state Court of Appeals Judge Michelle Keller to replace retiring state Supreme Court Justice Wil Schroder. Keller will serve the remaining year of Schroder’s term but would have to run for re-election in November 2014.

Schroder said in January he was stepping down to focus on his health after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Christian care ministry bill passes House, headed for final passage

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A bill that would allow Christian health plans to operate in Kentucky passed the House on Tuesday and is headed for final passage in the Senate.

The House passed Senate Bill 3 88-4 with some minor changes. The bill is in response to a more than decade-long legal battle between the state’s Department of Insurance and Medi-share, a Christian ministry, over whether it was an insurance company. A judge ordered Medi-Share cease operations on Jan. 1.