HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Friday is the last day for filing new bills in the Republican-controlled state Senate and no bill has yet come forward to allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for the U.S. Senate and the presidency in 2016, Senate President Robert Stivers said Wednesday.
Stivers, R-Manchester, said he did not know if such a bill will materialize.
“There’s been quite a bit of discusssion on it,” he said.
Stivers said some states allow federal officeholders like Paul to run for their federal seat while being on the ballot for president or vice president.
Paul, R-Bowling Green, has indicated that he may run for president in 2016. He also is up for re-election that year for the U.S. Senate.
Stivers noted that there always could be a court challenge to the Kentucky law that prohibits a candidate for running for more than one office.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and Kentucky’s top two legislative leaders — Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo — pledged support Thursday for measures to create a registry of caregivers with records of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation.
“I have long advocated for legislation to protect not only our vulnerable adults but also their families,” Beshear said at a news conference at the Capitol. “The family members who hired these caretakers have a right to know whether potential employees have a documented history of hurting, neglecting or exploiting the elderly. This registry provides a simple, reliable check to give families and our senior citizens good information when hiring caregivers.”
Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the registry “will go a long way in protecting some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens while giving their families greater peace of mind.”
Stivers said the support for the registry shows what bipartisanship can produce.
Later Thursday, the Senate approved the registry issue in Senate Bill 98, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, on a 36-0 vote. A similar measure, House Bill 256, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, is to be heard next Thursday in the House Health and Welfare Committee.
The registry would be maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Beshear said the 2012-2014 state budget contained $2.2 million to support creation of the registry, but the enabling legislation was not enacted.
If the legislation is enacted this year, he said, that funding would be used to pay for the registry.
FRANKFORT — State Sen. Gerald Neal said Wednesday that the firing of a Legislative Research Committee staffer for appearing in a campaign video released by Alison Lundergan Grimes was a violation of the staffer’s First Amendment rights.
Charles Booker was fired earlier this week after appearing in a web campaign video with his wife in support of Grimes, the likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. LRC employees are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities.
Neal, D-Louisville, spoke angrily on the Senate floor in defense of Booker, calling his firing “intolerable” and saying that if the state Senate doesn’t intervene then “shame on you.”
“He’s a casualty, collateral damage in the process of politics,” Neal said.
FRANKFORT — After years of languishing in the Republican-led Senate, a constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for most ex-felons appears poised to win legislative approval Wednesday at the behest of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
The full Senate is expected to sign off on the proposal Wednesday afternoon, following a scheduled appearance by Paul to push the bill through the Senate State and Local Government Committee at noon, said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
“I think it has a good chance of passing,” Stivers said Tuesday afternoon.
House Bill 70, sponsored by state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, has already cleared the state House. If the Senate approves the bill with no changes, voters would decide the amendment’s fate at the ballot box in November. If changes are made, the House must approve the revised version of the bill or set up a committee to negotiate a compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, has said previously that he could not support HB 70 in its current form. Instead, Thayer said he might be able to vote for the proposal if it is changed to include a five-year waiting period for each qualified ex-felon, “to make sure they do nothing wrong during that time.”
Stivers said he has not yet decided how he will vote on the measure.
“There is support,” he said. “I’m not a micro-manager of issues.”
Stivers said Paul, a potential candidate for president in 2016, will not be addressing the full Senate. He said Paul must leave the Capitol before the Senate convenes at 2 p.m.
The bill would affect about 180,000 ex-felons who have completed their sentences, but it would not apply to those who have committed intentional murder, rape, sodomy or a sexual offense with a minor.
Under current law, ex-felons must petition the governor for a partial pardon to restore their right to vote.
Speaking to largely black audiences, Paul has criticized the War on Drugs for locking up a disproportionate number of black youths and taking away their constitutional rights.
“I think particularly for nonviolent drug crimes, where people made a youthful mistake, I think they ought to get their rights back,” Paul said in a Louisville speech last September.
The state House gave Crenshaw, who is retiring this year, a standing ovation last month for his persistence over the years in pushing the constitutional amendment, then voted 82-12 to send his measure to the Senate.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Senate President Robert Stivers on Thursday described the debt in Gov. Steve Beshear’s two-year budget plan as “large.”
Stivers, R-Manchester, was quick to say Senate Republican leaders have not yet decided how to respond to Beshear’s budget because they still are analyzing it.
Stivers also noted that action on Beshear’s budget will begin in the House. The House version of the budget then will go to the Senate for its consideration. Both chambers must agree on a compromise budget before it can take effect.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is throwing his support behind a House bill that would extend domestic violence protection to dating relationships.
“I thought this was important to let people know not every Republican is against this,” Comer said Thursday in an interview. “I feel strongly in favor of it, and I’m afraid other Republicans may not embrace it.”
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary committee unanimously passed House Bill 8, with the backing of judges, police and prosecutors who testified that existing Kentucky law doesn’t go far enough. Currently, people may seek protective court orders prohibiting contact with their alleged abusers only if they are related, were married or living together, or had children.
Similar legislation has died in the Republican-led Senate in previous years. Asked Wednesday about the bill, Senate President Robert L. Stivers, R-Manchester, said he doesn’t see the need for extending protective orders because people can seek arrest if they’ve been assaulted.
Comer, a probable Republican candidate for governor in 2015, said that as the only Republican statewide elected officer, he wanted to make it clear he disagrees.
FRANKFORT — A bill that would extend domestic violence protection to dating partners unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, but its fate is unknown in the Senate, where similar versions have died in the past.
In Kentucky, people can ask judges for a short-term emergency protective order or a longer-term domestic violence order prohibiting contact with their alleged abusers if they are related, were married or living together, or had children.
Under House Bill 8, which proceeds to the full House, someone could ask for a protective order if they were in a “dating relationship” with the alleged abuser. Such a relationship is defined as “a relationship of romantic or intimate nature” within the previous three years.
Current law leaves several categories of people unprotected, including women of college age, roughly one-third of whom will be sexually or physically victimized by the time they graduate, said Carol Jordan, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women.
Meghan Wright told the committee that she was raped by her dating partner on a Kentucky college campus when she was 19. The prosecutor declined to pursue a case against her attacker, Wright said, and when he and his friends harassed her, she was forced to abandon her life and move.
FRANKFORT — More than $32 million collected from lawsuit settlements with two drug companies will be used to expand substance abuse treatment in Kentucky, Attorney General Jack Conway said Monday.
Conway, at a Capitol news conference with Gov. Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, said the money will expand treatment for youth and adults statewide.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the planned uses of the money are worthwhile but he had concerns that it was not put in the state’s General Fund for lawmakers to decide how to spend.
About $19 million will be used to start a grant program to finance juvenile abuse treatment programs, Conway said. Other expenditures include $2.52 million for scholarships to seek treatment at the state’s 17 Recovery Kentucky Centers; $560,000 to help create 14 drug-free homes for people making the transition out of residential drug treatment programs; and $500,000 to complete construction of a treatment center in Boyd County.
It also will provide $6 million to administer KASPER, the state’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program; $1 million to support drug programs for pregnant women at Chrysalis House in Lexington and Independence House in Corbin; $1.5 million to the University of Kentucky to help treatment providers; $1 million for a school-based substance abuse screening tool with the state Department of Education; and $250,000 to create a database to evaluate outcomes of juvenile treatment.
FRANKFORT — On the eve of Kentucky’s 2014 General Assembly, Seante Presdident Robert Stivers released Monday the Senate Republicans’ top five priorities for the session.
In a news release, Stivers, R-Manchester, said the GOP’s first priority is a constitutional amendment to allow lawmakers to overturn proposed administrative regulations by the governor and executive branch.
“A regulation implements the policy enacted by the legislature,” said Stivers. “Currently, the legislature has no impact on the viability of the regulation because the governor can unilaterally decide to implement a regulation even if it exceeds the statutory authority of the executive branch. It’s an institutional argument that has been going on for years.”
This issue “touches the life of every Kentuckian, including education, job creation agriculture and health care, Stivers said.
FRANKFORT — A year after Gov. Steve Beshear implemented the federal health care law without legislative approval, Senate Republicans plan to push a constitutional amendment that would curb the governor’s power to issue administrative regulations.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said his caucus would push for the restriction early in the 2014 General Assembly that begins Tuesday.
The proposed change to the state Constitution would keep a regulation issued by the governor or executive branch from taking effect if lawmakers declare it deficient.
The governor and executive agencies issue about 700 regulations each year to implement various laws approved by the legislature. The legislature’s Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee reviews most of those regulations, but has no power to actually stop them from taking effect.
State government has about 4,000 regulations, which govern every facet of the executive bureaucracy, from mining regulations to Medicaid.
Stivers, who has enjoyed a fairly collegial working relationship with Beshear, said the proposed amendment is not directed at the governor or his decisions to expand Medicaid eligibility and set up a state-run insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have criticized heavily.