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State opening office in Pikeville to help startup companies


FRANKFORT –The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is establishing an office on the University of Pikeville campus to provide assistance to startup companies in the Appalachian region.

“By adding the new office in Pikeville, we will be better able to serve the rapidly growing number of entrepreneurs and small businesses in Eastern Kentucky,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a release.

“Innovation is key to changing the economic landscape in Appalachia and we need to offer small businesses encouragement, guidance and a blueprint for success. I look forward to seeing positive results and hearing more success stories as a result of this new location.

The Pikeville office will operate in the university’s Community Technology Center and will serve nine counties, including Pike, Martin, Johnson, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Perry, Breathitt and Magoffin.

“Small businesses are the backbone of a sustainable economy,” said UPIKE President James Hurley. “We are excited to participate in this public-private partnership to extend and offer opportunity for economic development. Eastern Kentucky is full of great entrepreneurial leaders and the innovation center provides the platform for ideas to be developed and cultivated.”

The opening of the new office comes weeks after Beshear, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, community leaders and local residents announced their action plan for eastern Kentucky’s Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Initiative.

Among the initiative’s main goals is to increase business recruitment and incubation in the region.

With the Pikeville location, the Kentucky Innovation Network provides business assistance to entrepreneurs from 13 locations across the state. Formed in 2002 by the Cabinet for Economic Development, the network serves all 120 counties throughout the state from offices in Ashland, Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Lexington, London, Louisville, Morehead, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Richmond.

Last year, the Kentucky Innovation Network helped support 240 new companies create more than 1,000 jobs and assist businesses in raising more than $100 million in private investments.

The Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development oversees the Kentucky Innovation Network and other services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth. The goal of the office is to create and promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship statewide.

For more information on the Kentucky Innovation Network,visit

–Jack Brammer

Beshear signs marijuana oil, tax breaks and e-cigarette bills into law

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT –Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law several major bills Thursday, including limited use of marijuana oil for people with seizures, tax breaks for a proposed 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington and the state’s bourbon and beer industries and a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors.

Beshear has not yet vetoed any legislation sent to him by this year’s General Assembly. Lawmakers are to return to Frankfort on Monday after a two-week recess to consider any gubernatorial vetoes. The legislative session cannot run any longer than April 15.

Beshear put his signature Thursday on Senate Bill 124, which allows the hospitals at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville to provide oil derived from marijuana and hemp to children who suffer from certain severe seizures. The benefits also could apply to adults. The substance would be allowed when recommended by doctors practicing at the research hospitals. The bill also would allow anyone enrolled in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration trial to be treated with the oil.

The measure was one of the most emotional discussed in this year’s legislative session. Several parents with children who suffer with seizures lobbied for it.

The legislation marks the first time Kentucky has used any extract from marijuana plants for medicinal purposes.

Beshear launches automotive industry association for the state

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear launched the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association Monday, saying he wants Kentucky to be as closely identified with the auto industry as Detroit.

Made up of Kentucky auto manufacturers, suppliers and supporting businesses, the new group aims to “create a unified voice for an industry sector that is profoundly important to our state’s economic health and growth,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference.

A 12-member board of directors will develop the association, which will take a leading role in creating collaborative partnerships to advance the industry. Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes will serve as its inaugural chairman.

Beshear said the association’s goal will include branding, advocacy and leadership for the industry.

He emphasized that the new association is not a government agency, but the state will help it “get up and running until it is self-supporting.”

Hayes said he did not know how much state money would be spent to start the partnership, but said it would require a minimal amount for costs such as mailings.

Twelve other states have such organizations.

Besides Hayes, the other board members for the Kentucky group are Mike Goss, general manager for external affairs with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc.; Gabby Bruno, regional director for state government relations for Ford Motor Co.; Eric Henning, regional director for state government relations for General Motors Co.; Joe Adamcik, director of planning and strategy for AGC Automotive Americas; Jim Rachlin, president of Metalsa Light Vehicles USA and Australia; Rich Whitaker, vice president of Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Inc.; Mike Hirsch, vice president of operations for passenger car steering systems for ZF Steering Systems LLC: Doug Cain, chief executive officer for Mubea North America; Brandon Kessinger, vice president and general counsel for Akebono Brake Corp.; Toru (Richard) Kamioke, president and CEO of Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc.; and Kurt Krug, vice president of North American human resources for INOAC.

With more than 1.2 million vehicles produced in 2013, Kentucky ranks third in the nation in light vehicle production and first per capita. The 460 auto-related manufacturing businesses in the state employ nearly 82,000 people. Kentucky’s motor vehicle exports reached a record $5.5 billion last year.

Beshear and Connecticut governor bet on NCAA championship finals


FRANKFORT — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy have a friendly wager on Monday night’s NCAA Championship men’s basketball game.

Beshear has bet a fully stocked Kentucky bourbon barrel basket that the University of Kentucky Wildcats will win; Malloy is wagering Connecticut wine, beer and chocolate for a Huskies victory.

“The Wildcats’ momentum will continue tonight and carry them past UConn, to UK’s ninth NCAA men’s basketball championship, Beshear said in a news release before leaving the Capitol for the game in Arlington, Texas. “Gov. Malloy is a terrific governor and friend, but come Tuesday morning, he will be shipping his wager to Bourbon and Wildcat Country.”

If the Wildcats win, Malloy said he would send wine from the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, beer from Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford and Munson’s chocolates.

“The UConn men, led by Coach Kevin Ollie, are in the midst of an amazing season, and our whole state is behind them for the win,” Malloy said in a news release. “The Wildcats are a formidable team, but I am confident that the Huskies will bring home another championship title.”

The Kentucky bourbon basket – created from a half-barrel from Maker’s Mark – will include Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Bulleit Bourbon, Four Roses, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Town Branch, Willett, Old Pogue, Michter’s and Corsair Bourbon. The basket is provided by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

“We’re so confident of a Wildcat victory, we’re upping the bet with four more bottles of Kentucky’s signature spirit,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

The Cats will tip off against the Huskies at 9:10 p.m. EST at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

–Jack Brammer

Beshear makes bet with Wisconsin governor on NCAA game


FRANKFORT — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear did not get expanded gambling in this year’s legislative session, but that has not stopped him from making a friendly wager with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Saturday’s NCAA Final Four men’s basketball game.

Beshear bet a fully-stocked Kentucky Bourbon barrel basket that the University of Kentucky Wildcats will win; Scott wagered a Wisconsin beer, bratwursts and cheese for a Wisconsin Badgers victory.

“The Wildcats are playing their best basketball of the year, and they’ve already taken out three of last year’s Final Four teams,” said Beshear in a news release. “It will be a real treat to see these fantastic coaches, John Calipari and Bo Ryan, go head-to-head, but Kentucky clearly has the edge over the Badgers. We’ll look forward to grilling those Wisconsin brats after the Kentucky win on Saturday. Go Cats!”

However, Walker said the Badgers “have the momentum and skills to tame the Kentucky Wildcats and move onto the final.”

“The Badgers season has been un-BO-lievable,” Walker said. “With two great teams and great fan bases, this game will be one for record books.”

The Kentucky bourbon basket – created out of a half-barrel from Maker’s Mark – will include some of the state’s best premium Bourbon brands – Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Bulleit Bourbon, Four Roses, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Town Branch Bourbon.

The barrel also will include bar ware, glasses, apparel and accessories to conduct a Bourbon tasting. The basket is provided by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

The Cats will tip off against the Badgers on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. EST at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

– Jack Brammer

Beshear proclaims Friday as ‘Blue and Red Day’ for the big game


FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed Friday as “Blue and Red Day” in honor of the NCAA men’s tournament matchup between the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals.

“March Madness is truly living up to its name here in the Bluegrass State,” Beshear said Thursday in a news release

“This Friday, intra-state rivals UK and UofL are matching up to play one of the most anticipated games of the NCAA tournament so far. In Kentucky, this means there will be heated divide between fans of both teams—one that can pit neighbors, friends and even families against each other.

“To honor the teams’ talents and fans’ passion, I’m proclaiming Friday as ‘Blue and Red Day’ in the Commonwealth. Best of luck to the Cats and the Cards on a great game!”

Friday’s game will be the second time in three seasons that UK and U of L have met in the NCAA tournament. In 2012, UK prevailed in the game and went on to win the national championship. Last year, Louisville came out on top, winning the 2013 national championship.

The “Sweet Sixteen” matchup between UK and U ofL is scheduled to air on CBS at 9:45 p.m. ET.

Beshear acknowledges little chance for expanded gambling this year

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday he does not expect lawmakers, in the dwindling days of this year’s legislative session, to act on any expanded gambling measure.

Beshear said he has worked on expanded gambling since taking office in December 2007 and this year it “has run into the same issues that it has run into before.”

Beshear is ready for legislative plan for snow make-up days

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear is ready to act quickly on signing into law a legislative plan to provide relief for school districts that have missed several weeks of classes due to snow days.

“I understand they are close to having a final agreement on that,” Beshear said early Monday afternoon in a brief news conference after declaring April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month in Kentucky.”

“As soon as they pass it, I’ll be signing it.”

Beshear sidesteps picking UK-U of L winner in NCAA tourney

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear gave a politically safe answer Monday when asked who will win Friday night’s much-anticipated NCAA tournament game in Indianapolis between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

“I’m confident that a Kentucky team will win,” said Beshear, who holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from UK.

Beshear said he has watched the teams’ earlier games on TV and is excited that “Kentucky is once again at the epicenter of men’s college basketball.”

He noted that U of L won the national championship last year and UK the previous year.

“I think the team that wins Friday night will have a heck of a shot in winning the whole thing. In having a three-peat of Kentucky teams will be historic. And I’m glad that I will be the governor who will be serving.”

The Democratic governor said he does not yet know if he will be able to attend the game.

He said he may have to stay in Frankfort if the state House and Senate are negotiating compromises on weighty bills, such as the state budget and road plan.

If Beshear goes to Indianapolis, will he wear U of L red or UK blue?

“When you put red and blue together, what do you get?” he asked. “I think I’ve got a purple shirt.”

Senator files bill to let legislative leaders intervene when attorney general does not defend state law

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – A state lawmaker has filed a bill to allow the Senate president or House speaker to intervene in a legal action when the attorney general fails to defend a state law or provision of the Kentucky Constitution.

Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, said Tuesday she filed Senate Bill 221 in part due to Attorney General Jack Conway’s decision last week not to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries.

Gov. Steve Beshear has said he would appeal the ruling by U.S. District John Heyburn.

Gregory also said her bill would allow the top two legislative leaders to intervene in court cases in which attorney generals submit an order to the court giving them sole discretion to spend funding from a settlement.

Senate President Robert Stivers, who supports Gregory’s bill, said the provision dealing with funding stems from Conway’s decision earlier this year to use more than $32 million collected from lawsuit settlements with two drug companies to expand substance abuse treatment in Kentucky.

Stivers said the money should have gone to the state’s General Fund, which provides money for most state programs.