Bluegrass Politics Covering Kentucky politics and government Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:30:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Former natural resources secretary Carl Bradley dies Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:30:49 +0000 0 Kentucky property tax rate remains unchanged since 2008 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:22:24 +0000 0 State gets new malt beverage administrator Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:05:51 +0000 Holly McCoy-Johnson is the state's new malt beverage administrator in the Department for Alcoholic Beverage Control. Public Protection Secretary Ambrose Wilson IV appointed McCoy-Johnson to the position Wednesday, replacing Stephanie Stumbo, who resigned. McCoy-Johnson has been executive director of General Administration and Program Support Shared Services (GAPS) which provides personnel, fiscal, budget, IT and operational support for the Public Protection Cabinet, Energy and Environment Cabinet and Labor Cabinet. “Holly’s wide range of knowledge of the workings of state government and, in particular, the ability to build consensus among varied interests makes her an excellent choice for this very important role in ABC,” Wilson said in a release. He added, “Stephanie Stumbo played a key role in helping Kentucky move forward in modernizing and streamlining the complicated laws and regulations that govern our alcoholic beverage industry. Her service to Kentucky and the many constituent groups in the industry was very valuable and I want to thank her for being part of this administration.” McCoy-Johnson has more than 20 years of government experience, serving as executive director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Energy and Environment Cabinet, executive staff advisor for the Department for Natural Resources and staff assistant in the former Department of Mines and Minerals. Replacing McCoy-Johnson at GAPS is Ray Perry, who has served as deputy commissioner of the Department of Insurance. --Jack Brammer ]]> 0 Acting LRC director Seiler to retire July 31, will not seek permanent job Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:33:26 +0000 0 McConnell reacts to U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:08:19 +0000 Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate Floor Thursday regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld the federal Affordable Care Act: “That we’re even discussing another of Obamacare’s self-inflicted brushes with the brink — again — is the latest indictment of a law that’s been a rolling disaster for the American people. “Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s multitude of broken promises, including the one that resulted in millions of Americans losing the coverage they had and wanted to keep. Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s spectacular flops, from humiliating website debacles to the total collapse of exchanges in states run by the law’s loudest cheerleaders. Today’s ruling won’t change the skyrocketing costs in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays that have hit the middle class so hard over the last few years. “The politicians who forced Obamacare on the American people now have a choice: crow about Obamacare’s latest wobble towards the edge, or work with us to address the ongoing negative impact of a 2,000-page law that continues to make life miserable for too many of the same people it purported to help.” --Jack Brammer ]]> 0 Resolution reached in mediation of legislative sexual harassment claims Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:45:33 +0000 Leslie Vose, attorney for the Legislative Research Commission, and Thomas Clay, attorney for three women who made the claims, confirmed the resolution Tuesday morning but declined to provide any details of it. Vose, of Lexington, said, “I can say the mediation was successful to all parties involved,” but said legislative leaders now will have to sign off on it. Neither House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, nor Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, had any immediate comment. John Cox, a spokesman for Stivers, said details of the resolution will not be immediately released. He did not elaborate. Clay, of Louisville, said the parties Monday night “reached a mutually satisfactory resolution.” The closed mediation started Monday in the Lexington law office of Steve Barker. Clay also said “all parties involved” should be pleased and that the resolution will take care of all lawsuits in the cases. The mediation addressed two cases, both brought in October of 2013. One involved sexual harassment claims by legislative staffers Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper against former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis. Arnold has denied any wrongdoing. The two women also sued the Legislative Research Commission, and earlier this year added Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, as a defendant after Bell fired Costner from her job in the House majority whip's office soon after he was elected whip. The second case involved allegations by legislative staffer Nicole Cusic that she was moved to an inferior job after she complained that Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, had sexually harassed female legislative staffers. Coursey has denied the charge and sued Cusic for defamation. Cusic also listed the LRC and former LRC director Bobby Sherman as defendants in her case. ]]> 0 Beshear creates special panel to study teachers’ retirement funding; Hoover criticizes it Tue, 16 Jun 2015 20:35:37 +0000 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." ]]> 0 John Schaff named new head of Legislative Ethics Commission Mon, 15 Jun 2015 19:50:58 +0000 John Schaaf, who has been legal counsel for the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission since 2004, will become its news executive director Aug. 1. Schaaf will replace Anthony Wilhoit, who is retiring. The bipartisan commission, made up of private citizens, selected Schaaf from 38 applications from all over the country, commission chairman George Troutman of Louisville said in a release. In 1992, Schaaf worked with the Task Force on Governmental Ethics to draft the legislation which created the Legislative Ethics Commission. Before joining the commission as its legal counsel, Schaaf was general counsel for the Legislative Research Commission for 16 years. He and his wife have three sons and lives in Scott County. Wilhoit has led the commission staff since 1997. He took the job shortly after he retired as chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. He served on the court for 21 years. Prior to that, Wilhoit was the state’s first public advocate, and served as Woodford County attorney and police judge. In 2012, Wilhoit received the COGEL Award, the highest honor given by the international organization of public and private organizations working in the fields of ethics, campaign finance, elections and open records. In addition to Troutman, other members of the Ethics Commission are vice chair Pat Freibert of Lexington, former Sen. Charlie Borders of Grayson, Deborah Jo Durr of Richwood, Bob Fulkerson of Louisville, attorney Elmer George of Lebanon, retired Judge Paul Gudgel of Lexington, Henry L. Stephens, Jr. of Union and former Sen. Ken Winters of Murray. --Jack Brammer]]> 0 Beshears to go to England to promote tourism in Kentucky Fri, 12 Jun 2015 17:00:19 +0000 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.]]> 0 KY Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset will not seek re-election next year Thu, 11 Jun 2015 19:10:12 +0000 Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to the Kentucky Senate next year. Girdler, a former aide and district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, said in a statement that after more than "a year of prayerful consideration and conversations with my wife and close friends, I have confidently come to the decision that I will not be seeking re-election in 2016." Girdler, who won an election in 2012 to represent the 15th Senate District that includes Pulaski, Lincoln and Boyle counties, said he has a deep passion for public service but his wife, Courtney, and he are expecting their second daughter soon "and my passion for public service pales in comparison to the love and passion I have for my family and my faith." Girdler noted that he suggested many times on the campaign trail in 2012 that he did not plan on serving in the Senate for a long time. "I feel I made that abundantly clear when I opted out of the legislative retirement plan upon being sworn in to prove that I was not in the General Assembly for the perks and privileges, but there to do the people’s business, and that is exactly what I have done," he said. ]]> 0