By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Jacob Tamme, a Danville native and former University of Kentucky football player who now is a tight end for the Denver Broncos, will be the guest speaker at this year’s Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday.
The event, hosted by Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear, will be held at the Frankfort Convention Center on March 13.
The breakfast dates back to 1965 and includes representatives of all three branches of government. It is a non-denominational event, according to a news release from Beshear’s office, to give thanks for blessings and to ask for strength to lead the state toward a better future.
“For decades, the prayer breakfast has provided the opportunity for people to slow down for a moment, take a deep breath and reflect on how to personally grow and serve during the upcoming year,” Beshear said in a statement. “I encourage Kentuckians to join us for this year’s breakfast and share a renewed commitment to our faith and working together to make Kentucky a better place now and for generations to come.”
Tamme has played in two Super Bowls and has received many athletic and academic accolades throughout his career, including the prestigious Bobby Bowden Athlete of the Year Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2007.
In addition to Tamme, the prayer event will feature music, special readings and a Kentucky Proud breakfast including bacon, sausage, eggs, grits, hash brown casserole and biscuits.
Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time and the program will begin at 8 a.m. Eastern time.
Tickets are $10 each at the door or $125 in advance for a reserved table of 8.
For more information about tickets or to a reserve table, go to http://governor.ky.gov/prayerbreakfast.
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.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday that he has not yet decided whether to appeal last week’s federal court ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Beshear, at a news conference in the Capitol, said it’s premature to make a decision on that until the judge has entered a final order in the case.
In a 23-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II struck down part of the state ban that he wrote treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”
The ruling only required Kentucky to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed in other states or countries. It did not deal with the question of whether the state can be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as that issue wasn’t brought up in the four lawsuits that triggered the ruling.
Beshear also said he was “encouraged” that the Republican-led Senate this week approved a state constitutional amendment that would restore some ex-felons’ voting rights “though it was very watered-down version.”
The Senat added to House Bill 70 a provision that the restoration of voting rights would not occur for a felon until after a five-year waiting period.
Beshear said he preferred the initial bill approved by the House and sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington.
The Democratic governor said he hopes a conference committee made up of lawmakers from the House and Senate will be able to iron out differences between the two chambers and find a good compromise.
Beshear returned to Frankfort Wednesday after returning from a three-day trip to Germany
He said he went “for some specific matters, including meetings with some companies that we felt might have some interest in doing business in the commonweatlh. We were encouraged by the responses that we got.”
Beshear said his policy is not to divulge the names of the companies. He said he met “with some folks related to the automotive industry as well as some other sectors of the economy.”
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — For the third straight year, Kentucky’s exports set a new all-time annual record.
Gov. Steve Beshear on Thursday announced the new mark of $25.3 billion in sales of Kentucky-made products and services in 2013.
The record represents a more than 14 percent growth in exports since 2012, the second highest increase in the country.
By comparison, the average export growth rate nationwide was about 2 percent. In 2012, Kentucky’s exports totaled $22.1 billion.
“The fact that we’ve shattered records three years in a row shows our export initiatives are working,” said Beshear in a release. “Expanding markets by selling domestically and internationally is important to our business community, to our economy and to all Kentuckians. As a result of our hard work, demand for Kentucky products is growing at a rapid pace and other states are struggling to keep up.”
Leading Kentucky’s export growth is aerospace products ($5.6 billion), followed by motor vehicles and parts ($5.5 billion) and synthetic rubber and resin ($1.4 billion).
Among the state’s major industries, the export that accounted for the highest percentage increase in 2013 was glass, up nearly 71 percent from the previous year. Other industries with significant gains include communications equipment and audio and visual equipment.
In 2013, the state exported to 198 nations. Kentucky’s top trading partner again is Canada, with $7.7 billion in products and services. Mexico ($1.9 billion), United Kingdom ($1.8 billion), China ($1.3 billion) and Brazil ($1.1 billion) round out the top five.
Kentucky’s exports to Saudi Arabia jumped 381 percent. Nationally, Kentucky had the largest increase in exports to Saudi Arabia and is now that country’s 11th largest trade partner. The increase in exports to Saudi Arabia is attributable to motor vehicles (up from $38 million in 2012 to $610 million in 2013).
Gov. Steve Beshear is once again on President Barack Obama’s guest list.
Beshear and his wife, Jane, were on the list of invited guests to Obama’s State Dinner Tuesday evening with French President Francois Hollande, along with Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset.
“It is an honor to be invited to a state dinner by the president of United States,” Beshear said in a statement. “This event will include leaders of business and industry, arts, sports and government from around the country and the world. It is a wonderful opportunity for the commonwealth anytime a governor can be in the same room with these leaders.”
Beshear traveled to France in July 2012 as part of a European economic development trip. France is the seventh-largest consumer of Kentucky prodeucts and French businesses have supplied nearly $1.2 billion in foreign direct investment in Kentucky, the fifth-highest total of any country, according to the governor’s office.
Beshear, who joined his wife in attending the arrival ceremony for Hollande earlier Tuesday, has been repeatedly praised by Obama for the implementation of the president’s health care law in Kentucky.
Most recently, Obama lauded Beshear in his State of the Union address, which the Beshears also attended as guests of the Obamas.
In addition to the Beshears, Rogers and a slew of notable politicians, several celebrities were on the guest list, including Stephen Colbert, Mary J. Blige, Bradley Cooper, Mindy Kaling and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – The state House Transportation Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would expand Kentucky’s booster seat law, a move its supporters said would save lives and curb injuries.
House Bill 199, sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, would change Kentucky’s law to require booster seats in vehicles for any child younger than 9 who is 40 to 57 inches tall.
Any child who is over 57 inches in height would not be required to be secured in a booster seat. Violation of the measure would cost $25.
A 2008 law requires children to be in a booster seat until they reach the age of 7 or a height of 50 inches.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear will lead a Kentucky Export Initiative trade mission May 11-16 to the United Kingdom, Kentucky’s third largest export destination.
A release Wednesday from the governor’s office said the trip will focus on increasing commerce, promoting travel and tourism, and building business relationships between Kentucky and the United Kingdom.
The KEI delegation will make stops in England in London and Manchester.
“We do a tremendous amount of business with the UK, exporting more than a billion dollars in products and services a year, but there is plenty of room to grow,” said Beshear. “This trade mission will give Kentucky businesses the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, build relationships to increase sales and explore one of Europe’s most established markets.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Presidents of the 16 campuses of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System said Monday they can raise money from their communities and other public and private sources to help pay for agency bonds to provide campus improvements.
The KCTCS campus presidents appeared with Gov. Steve Beshear and KCTCS President Michael McCall at a Capitol news conference Monday to tout Beshear’s budget proposal to issue $145.5 million in agency bonds to KCTCS to provide infrastructure at each campus that Beshear said is “desperately needed.”
Beshear said the bonds will be supported by KCTCS revenues. The bonds will be used to fund up to 75 percent of the projects. At least 25 percent of the remaining cost will come from local communities and other public and private sources.
McCall said students will have to pay an $8-a-credit-hour fee to pay for the bonds. He said that may be $4-an-hour in the fall semester this year and might be in addition to a tuition increase.
The KCTCS system now has more than 92,000 students.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday night hailed Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear for implementing the president’s health care law in Kentucky, praising the governor who attended as Obama’s guest.
In defending and promoting the embattled and controversial law, Obama listed the high points of the law since the majority of it took effect on Oct. 1 and railed against Republican efforts to repeal it.
“And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight,” Obama said. “Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. But he is like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families.”
The president continued, quoting Beshear at length: “‘They’re our friends and they’re our neighbors,’ [Beshear] said. ‘They are people we shop and go to church with … farmers out on the tractors … grocery clerks … they are people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.’”
“Steve’s right,” Obama said. “That’s why, tonight, I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind — plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you.”
Beshear and Kentucky’s First Lady, Jane Beshear, flew to Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning to attend the speech at the president’s invitation.
After the speech, Beshear issued a statement saying they were “honored” to attend the speech and “hear the president praise Kentucky as a national model for providing affordable, accessible health care to every one of our citizens.”
“We’re very proud to have the commonwealth in the national spotlight,” Beshear said. “Our work in providing access to health care will strengthen our families as well as our workforce.”
Beshear also said he was “pleased” to hear the president push for raising the minimum wage and improving early childhood education.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday morning laid the groundwork for the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address.
McConnell took aim at the president’s health care law and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who will join the Obamas at the annual address, warning that they “can keep telling Americans to ‘get over it’ if they don’t like this law, but sooner or later they’re going to have to come to terms with reality.”
“They’re going to have to accept that Obamacare just hasn’t worked like the administration promised — in Kentucky, and across America — and that it’s time to start over with real reform,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor.
The senator, facing a bruising re-election battle, castigated both the federal-run and Kentucky-run health care exchanges, saying that Kentucky had received more than $253 million “to essentially limit care, cancel plans and increase costs.”
“Kentucky has gotten more money to set up its exchange than every state except California, New York, Oregon and Washington,” McConnell said. “That’s a lot of money. And they’ve still only enrolled 30 percent of the people they were supposed to at this point. How is that a success?”
The senator said he held a telephone town hall meeting with Kentuckians Monday night, and he heard from people who had their insurance plans canceled. He said health insurance premiums in the state have gone up on average 47 percent. (That figure comes from a study by WalletHub.com, which examined historical premium rates for men and women ages 27, 40 and 64, and compared them to the average premiums of plans available on state and federal health-care exchanges. Other studies have said it is very difficult to figure out how much premiums will go up for any given individual.)
“I assure you, these folks won’t be applauding when the president tries to spin this law as a success tonight,” McConnell said. “More than a quarter million Kentuckians lost the plans they had and presumably wanted to keep – despite the president’s promises to the contrary.”
Beshear told the Herald-Leader Monday afternoon that he was “honored” to be joining First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address, boasting of the success Kentucky’s exchange has enjoyed.
More than 180,000 Kentuckians have signed up since the program went live on Oct. 1. About a quarter of those have signed up for private health plans while the rest have enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
“I appreciate his hard work in getting the Affordable Care Act passed to give me the opportunity to change the course of Kentucky’s history when it comes to health care,” Beshear said of Obama.