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Beshear seeks federal disaster aid for July’s flooding

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

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.

Beshear creates special panel to study teachers’ retirement funding; Hoover criticizes it

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday to create a 23-member group to address the state’s financially strapped Teachers’ Retirement System.

Beshear named David Karem, a former Democratic state senator from Louisville and a former chairman of the state Board of Education, to chair the panel and to submit a report to him by or on Dec. 1.

Beshear leaves office in early December and could turn over any recommendations to the 2016 General Assembly.

The creation of the special panel drew applause from the top two legislative leaders – House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester – but criticism from House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown.

Hoover said he was “extremely disappointed.”
“Gov. Beshear had a real opportunity to create an independent, non-partisan panel to give a thorough review of KTRS in an effort to make substantive recommendations to solidify the system,” said Hoover in an email.

“Instead the governor chose to fill this task force with self-serving special interest groups that have been part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Beshears to go to England to promote tourism in Kentucky

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT –Gov. Steve Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear are to visit England next week to meet with British travel operators and media representatives to promote tourism in Kentucky.

Joining Beshear will be representatives of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and convention and visitor bureaus in Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.

“We requested the Beshears join us because with the Breeders’ Cup coming to Kentucky and a Triple Crown winner from Kentucky, this is a great time to be telling international travelers about the Bluegrass State,” Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Bob Stewart said in a release.

“The United Kingdom sends the most overseas travelers to Kentucky and we want to help that market grow. A recent travel forecast from the U.S. Commerce Department indicates continued growth in international visitors through 2020.”

Beshear plans to meet with journalists and others in the travel industry to promote Kentucky tourism, a $13.1 billion industry.

He also will visit Ascot Racecourse during the trip.

The Beshears will arrive in England on Wednesday and return Sunday, June 21.

Kerri Richardson leaving as governor’s communications director; Terry Sebastian will replace her

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear’s communications director, Kerri Richardson, is leaving the administration at month’s end to become vice president of C2 Strategic Communications, a public relations firm, in Louisville.

Beshear named deputy communications director, Terry Sebastian, to replace her.

“Kerri’s work to keep Kentuckians informed and engaged about job creation, education and health has been a valuable asset to this administration. I wish her every success as she returns home to Louisville, where she will be closer to her husband and one-year-old daughter,” said Beshear.

“Terry is a capable and energetic leader with an extensive background in state government, and he will be a great fit in this position.”

Richardson joined the Beshear administration in 2009 and has served as communications director since 2011. She managed both day-to-day media interactions and strategic communications for major initiatives such as Medicaid expansion; kyhealthnow, the state’s plan to meet multiple health goals and Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).

She was named the 2014 National Communicator of the Year by the National Association of Government Communicators for her work on kynect, the state’s nationally-recognized health benefit exchange, and Kentucky’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“Working for Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear has been both the biggest honor and biggest challenge of my career,” said Richardson. “They love Kentucky and they work every day to make our state stronger, healthier, and more capable. Over and over, the Governor has proven himself as a strategic, thoughtful and compassionate leader, and it has been a privilege to witness that work and to share it with my fellow Kentuckians over the past six years.”

Sebastian, a veteran of state government communications, has been the deputy communications director since 2011. He was deputy communications director for Gov. Paul Patton, communications director for former Auditor Crit Luallen and former Treasurer Jonathan Miller and communications director for the Kentucky Justice Cabinet. He also served as media and public relations director for Louisville Collegiate School.

“The Governor, First Lady and lieutenant governor have so much more to do the last six months of this administration. I know the overnor wants to finish as strong as he started, and I’m honored to continue to work alongside him and his team,” said Sebastian.

Richardson’s final day in the Capitol office will be June 26.

–Jack Brammer

Economic Development Secretary Hayes announces retirement

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes announced Thursday he will retire from the position later this year after seven years in the job.

Gov. Steve Beshear, as chair of the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board, said the board will conduct a national search to replace Hayes.

No firm departure date has been set for Hayes, of Louisville, to step down.

Timing will be based upon completion of a successful transition period so not to disrupt ongoing project activities and discussions, said a release from the Economic Development Cabinet. The job pays $250,000 a year.

Beshear signs bill authorizing state bonds for UK medical research center

photo (39)By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Monday a bill that will provide the University of Kentucky with $132.5 million in state bonds for a six-story medical research center.

“This projects represents the potential to improve the lives of so many, both within Kentucky where our health outcomes are so poor, and beyond,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference with several legislators and Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president of research.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto was not able to attend because of a stomach virus.

House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, authorizes spending $5.6 million on debt payments for the bonds this year and $11 million in subsequent years.

UK will provide another $132.5 million for the project through research contracts and private donations.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the project is personal to him since he has had many relatives and friends treated at UK for cancer.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the ramifications of the center are “wide-ranging.”

Stumbo also apologized to Capilouto, saying he initially thought Capilouto was “not up for the job” to be UK president but that Capilouto has proved him wrong.

The center, which would house researchers from several disciplines, is to be built on UK’s campus near South Limestone and Virginia Avenue.

UK plans to begin construction by the end of the year.

The health challenges those researchers will address include cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable illnesses.

Beshears invite Kentuckians to March 17 prayer breakfast

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear invite Kentuckians to attend the 2015 Governor’s Prayer Breakfast March 17 at the Frankfort Convention Center.

Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author and executive director of Blessed Earth, will deliver the keynote address.

The breakfast dates back to 1965 and includes representatives of all three branches of government.

The nondenominational gathering provides Kentuckians an opportunity to give thanks for blessings and ask for strength to lead Kentucky toward a better future, said a release from the governor’s office.

“For decades, the prayer breakfast has provided people the opportunity to slow down for a moment, take a deep breath and reflect on how to grow and serve during the upcoming year,” said Beshear.

Sleeth heads Blessed Earth, an educational non-profit that inspires and equips people of faith to become better stewards of the earth.

He is a former emergency room physician and chief of hospital medical staff who resigned from his position to teach, preach and write about the biblical call to be good stewards of the earth.

Recognized by Newsweek as one of the nation’s most influential evangelical leaders, Sleeth has spoken to more than 1,000 churches, campuses, and events, including serving as the monthly guest preacher at The Washington National Cathedral.

The 2015 Prayer Breakfast also wil feature music from Larnelle Harris, special readings and a breakfast including bacon, country ham, 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 or to a reserve table, go to http://governor.ky.gov/prayerbreakfast.

State Democratic Party mails out first family’s Christmas cards

By Jack Brammer jbrammer@herald-leader.com FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Democratic Party has mailed out about 1,200 Christmas cards that feature Gov. Steve Beshear and his family. For this year’s Christmas cards, all Beshear family members are decked out in casual attire. “Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season,” say the cards that the state Democratic Party has […]

Lexington attorney Luke Morgan considering GOP bid for attorney general

By Jack Brammer jbrammer@herald-leader.com FRANKFORT – Luke Morgan, a Lexington attorney with experience in trial court and state administrative hearings, is considering a possible run as a Republican for state attorney general in 2015. Morgan, 51, said Tuesday he has not yet made a decision on whether to run to be the state’s chief law-enforcement […]

Phil Huddleston chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Luallen; Shannon Tivitt deputy chief for Beshear

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Beshear announced that Shannon Tivitt, who had been chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, will be his new deputy chief of staff.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement about Huddleston that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

In a release, Beshear said Tivitt “has been an indispensable asset to my administration as the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, overseeing policy efforts such as kyhealthnow and ‘Close the Deal,’” said Beshear.

“Her long history of work in city, county and state government operations gives her a valuable and practical understanding of what makes policies work. She is an ideal choice to serve on my senior staff.”

Tivitt succeeds Jamie Link, who resigned to become the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Prior to joining the Beshear administration, Tivitt served as chief of staff to Abramson for four years when he was mayor of Louisville.

She also led administrative efforts for the Louisville Development Authority for Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong and Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Denise Harper Angel.

She began her career in public service as a legislative coordinator with the City of Louisville’s Board of Aldermen.

“I have spent the last 20 years working in various agencies in city, county and state government because I have a deep appreciation for and devotion to public service,” said Tivitt. “I’m very grateful to Gov. Beshear for this opportunity to serve as his deputy chief of staff, and I look forward to helping continue the good work of this administration.”

Tivitt is a native of Breckinridge County and graduated from the University of Louisville. She resides in Louisville. Her appointment is
effective immediately.

–Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Gov. Steve Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

–Jack Brammer