Ashland Is Taking Health Care Seriously

RUH RO. A federal grand jury in Lexington has subpoenaed records of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and her father Jerry Lundergan in an investigation that relates to the finances of her political campaigns in 2014 and 2015. [C-J/AKN]

Matt Bevin’s 2015 campaign collected more than $115,000 after he was elected, allowing about 150 donors — including Frankfort lobbyists, state employees, coal executives and business owners with an interest in state government — to help him pay off his creditors. Many wrote $1,000 checks during Bevin’s first month as governor. Some are recent converts, having financially backed Democratic nominee Jack Conway in last year’s general election, or Republican candidate James Comer in the GOP primary. Once the ballots were counted Nov. 3, they wrote their first checks to Bevin, the new Republican governor. [John Cheves]

A Saudi prince may have just beaten Donald Trump at a game of Twitter trolling. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said on Twitter that he’s bailed the billionaire out twice — and suggested the GOP presidential frontrunner might need his help a third time. [HuffPo]

Republican state Rep. David Floyd says he has decided not to seek another term in this year’s election. [More C-J/AKN]

This is why it’s super-easy to roll your eyes at bogus business creation statistics bandied about by people like Alison Grimes, Steve Beshear and Matt Bevin. The truth is that almost a quarter of American startups are not founded on brilliant new ideas, but on the desperation of men or women who can’t get a decent job. The majority of all American enterprises are solo ventures having zero payrolls, employing no one but the entrepreneur, and often quickly wasting away. [Bill Moyers]

“To fully recount all the injustices that have taken place in this case would nearly be overwhelming.” — from the 2011 state Court of Appeals opinion in Denver L. Stewart III v. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Denver Stewart has no trouble reciting those injustices. [WFPL]

The Koch brothers’ donor network spent close to $400 million last year, and is on its way to spending an unprecedented $889 million supporting right-wing politics and causes during the 2016 cycle. [The Hill]

The Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing has introduced a new feature on their website that makes it easier for motorists to access their 2015 vehicle property taxes for the upcoming tax season. Now, individuals who normally would contact their county clerks for this information can access it directly online. [Click the Clicky]

Donald Trump finally put his money where his mouth is ― loaning his presidential campaign $10.8 million in the last three months of last year, accounting for 80 percent of all the cash he brought in, according to a report filed Sunday night with the Federal Election Commission. [Politico]

Passport Health Plan, Kentucky’s leading provider-sponsored, community-based Medicaid provider, will host a press conference [this] morning at the Muhammad Ali Center to make an important announcement regarding the company’s future and the delivery of Medicaid managed care services. [Press Release]

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter a year ago, official figures show. [BBC]

Vaping in public places is now illegal in Ashland. The city’s board of commissioners amended Ashland’s anti-smoking ordinance Thursday after listening to arguments from both sides of the e-cigarette debate. Amy Jeffers, director of Pathways Regional Prevention Center, stood before the board and cited findings by a California-based study as she spoke out against “second-hand vaping.” [Ashland Independent]

The Obama administration announced plans to expand wage reporting requirements for private businesses on Friday, bolstering its efforts to narrow the longstanding U.S. gender wage gap. [Reuters]

Underground coal mines will ramp up testing for the dust that causes breathing problems and leads to black lung disease under a new federal rule taking effect Monday. [H-L]

Republicans have spent nearly six years promising to repeal Obamacare and, for most of that time, they have refused to acknowledge what that would mean for the millions who would lose their health insurance. [HuffPo]

Adam Edelen: Calm Down, Beyonce!

Will Jim Gray beat Rand Paul? Probably not with his current team that consists almost entirely of Conway people. Stranger things have happened, though. [H-L]

When Diana Andino first started researching medical school — something she had been working toward for years — she hit a brick wall. [HuffPo]

A religious group building a massive Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Kentucky has won a legal battle over the state’s withdrawal of a potential tax incentive worth millions. [C-J/AKN]

Of all things for Adam Edelen to attack, he chose to hit Rand Paul on foreign policy. That may be the only thing most Democrats can stomach from Paul. He’s also wrong about sexual orientation. Anti-gay discrimination is alive and well in Kentucky. Hell, the Kentucky Democratic Party runs so quickly away from the gays that it’s alarming. We can all agree that Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) is a delusional troll. But Adam Edelen needs to check his straight, white, male privilege once in a while before spouting off in another sweaty rant. [Roll Call]

State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has re-enacted restrictions on bird sales and movement in Kentucky to protect Kentucky’s poultry industry and bird population from the avian influenza outbreak in southern Indiana that federal officials announced on Friday. [Richmond Register]

For a variety of reasons, the nomination of Donald Trump would probably not be in the best interest of the Republican Party. [Nate Silver]

SURPRISE! Johnny Bell, sexual harasser extraordinaire, has finally gotten the hint. [Ronnie Ellis]

A federal appeals court upheld the government’s new coal dust exposure rule for coal miners Monday, rejecting industry challenges to it. [The Hill]

As if people in Eastern Kentucky aren’t taxed enough. Rowan Fiscal Court could be looking at raising the occupational tax by a half percent to help pay for the new Rowan County Detention Center. [The Morehead News]

Wall Street edged higher on Tuesday morning, driven by strong earnings reports and recovering oil prices, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and Apple’s results. [Reuters]

Glasgow City Attorney Rich Alexander, in a letter responding to a complaint from the Glasgow Daily Times, said he incorrectly relied upon an exemption of the Open Records Act as grounds for closing a portion of a police sergeant’s disciplinary hearing last Monday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The Supreme Court rescued an administration-supported rule that promotes electricity conservation, handing a big victory to environmentalists and President Barack Obama. [Politico]

Barbara Kleine, director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries’ office, points to a to-do list on the wall of her office: It’s a couple of feet long and takes a minimum of 18 months to accomplish. Printed on it is every permit, form and check that refugees must pass on their way to becoming settled in a new home. [H-L]

Six years ago, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. It is not a happy anniversary. I remember waiting for the ruling and opening it up on my computer: when I finally read it, I didn’t want to believe that the Court had gone as far as it had and been so careless with our democracy. [HuffPo]

Magical Hugs Will Definitely End Racism

Rand Paul and Kentucky Democrats allegedly have something in common. [H-L]

It’s cute that Republicans think hugs will end racism. Just like Barack Obama getting elected magically ended racism. Black people are magic, did you know? [HuffPo]

No, legislative pensions should not be secret. We’re dumber for being asked the question. [C-J/AKN]

PEE ALERT! Republicans are finally realizing that they’re wasting their money on presidential candidates. [The Hill]

Rebecca Collett was overcome with emotion Wednesday after a Kentucky legislative committee advanced a bill that would allow some nonviolent felons like her to have their criminal records expunged. [Richmond Register]

Everyone is excited that Michigan is more terrible than Kentucky. [Reuters]

A guy worth millions used $2,700 from his mega-business to give to charity in Morehead and the newspaper wrote about it. [The Morehead News]

President Obama might have started off his State of the Union address Tuesday night by saying he wasn’t going to list a bunch of policy priorities, but he did offer up some climate change policy changes that we will likely see this year. [ThinkProgress]

After listening to a plea for financial help, members of the Glasgow-Barren County Tourist and Convention Commission voted Tuesday to contribute $20,000 to help fund the 2016 Glasgow Highland Games, a local Scottish festival that is in its 31st year. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The US is looking to the United Nations for help in dealing with thousands of migrants fleeing to the US to escape violence in Central America. [BBC]

Everybody look how sand Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) is now that he’s being excluded for having absolutely no chance. [WKYT]

Hillary Clinton wants you to know she has a new tax proposal. She also wants you to know that Bernie Sanders does not. [NPR]

Should Fayette County Public Schools build larger elementary schools? [H-L]

When you’re running for president on a platform of universal health care, free college and breaking up the big banks, pretty much everything else seems small bore. And so it was last week when Bernie Sanders laid out his financial reform plan, which included a proposal to turn the credit rating agencies into nonprofits and remove their conflict of interest. [HuffPo]

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December 2015 Receipts Were Meh

December 2015 receipt reports hit last week and they smell like a lot of Bevin Administration hype, to say the least. Just like the Beshear Administration, the recycled lot of Fletcherites are spinning numbers to make it seem like they’re economic champions.

Hype from the release:

State Budget Director John Chilton noted that December receipts are the third largest monthly total ever; trailing only the two times collections exceeded $1 billion in the previous fiscal year. “Even accounting for timing issues in property taxes, revenue growth was solid in the major accounts; particularly sales and use, as well as individual and corporation income taxes. Receipts grew 3.5 percent in the second quarter and we are on pace to meet the official revenue estimate. We will continue to monitor receipts as well as the economic conditions of the Commonwealth.”

Mmm hmm.

Remember when the Beshear crew would withhold numbers for the next reporting period in order to pat themselves on the back? Our sources were the people actually be ordered to do the withholding. Guess what they’re telling us now. Cough.

The Bevin narrative is always going to be that he’s better for the economy. Even if he can’t back it up beyond sleight of hand trickery.

Highlights:

  • General Fund allegedly up 8.6% to $996.8 million
  • Road Fund up 4.2% to $128.8 million
  • Sales & Use taxes up 6.9%, up 6.2% for the year
  • Corporate taxes rose 17%, up 8.7% for the year
  • Individual income taxes up 11%, up 4.7% year-to-date
  • Proptery taxes up 16%, up 2.7% for the year
  • Cancer stick taxes up 8.6%, up 3% for the first half of the year
  • Coal severance taxes fell a whopping 39.2%, down 26% for the year
  • Motor fuels fell 19.7%, down 17.4% for the year
  • Vehicle use up 52.9%, up 15.6% for the year
  • License & Privilege up 12.4%, up 5.9% for the year

Click here (Warning: PDF Link) if you wish to review the report for yourself.

Johnson & Laurel Cos Vie For Worst

It’s no secret that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is no fan of Kentucky’s junior senator. [H-L]

A 55-year-old man thought he had procured a working X-ray device that could focus lethal levels of radiation on residents of an upstate New York community. It’s exactly the kind of horrific plot that might raise the alarm amid the heightened concern over terrorist attacks on the United States. But there’s something notably different about this case — Eric Feight is white, and his intended victims were Muslim-Americans. [HuffPo]

A last-minute plan by Gov. Steve Beshear to increase child care assistance for poor working parents has collapsed because state officials failed to enact it before his administration ended Dec. 7. [C-J/AKN]

U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration is open to some “legitimate criticism” for failing to adequately explain its strategy to counter Islamic State, though he chided Republican presidential candidates for criticizing his policy without offering an alternative. [Reuters]

A Louisville state representative wants to tax electronic cigarette equipment and the liquid nicotine that the devices turn into smokeable vapor. [WFPL]

From his seat in the small plane flying over the largest remaining swath of American wilderness, Bruce Babbitt thought he could envision the legacy of one of his proudest achievements as Interior Secretary in the Clinton administration. [ProPublica]

Three higher education institutions are coming together to collaborate with and support the Upper Cumberland River Watershed Watch (UCWW) in their efforts to improve water quality and water protection. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

Speaking to the Republican Women’s Club in a mall on the glitzy Las Vegas Strip, retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson repeated a debunked theory that Muslim immigrants have taken control of neighborhoods in major European cities, and warned a similar pattern could arise in the U.S. [ThinkProgress]

There’s a community Christmas party coming up later this week, and all of the proceeds are going to a wonderful cause. [WLEX18]

An American airstrike may have inadvertently killed Iraqi soldiers near the city of Fallujah on Friday, according to a statement from the U.S.-led military coalition conducting the campaign against ISIS. [NPR]

People in Paintsville are continuing to poop the floor. Audience members at a Johnson County school’s performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” recited a Bible passage that school officials deleted from the play. [Ashland Independent]

New calculations show that our already sizeable water footprint is 18% bigger than we thought. [BBC]

Laurel County is the worst. A 3-year-old girl is without her parents after they were shot to death Saturday night, the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department said. [H-L]

Ohio Gov. John Kasich trolled Republican presidential rival Donald Trump on Saturday after the real estate mogul publicly traded compliments with Russian President Vladimir Putin. [HuffPo]

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

How Is Jim Ramsey Still In A Job?

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

With his first year as U.S. Senate Majority Leader drawing to a close, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that “by any objective standard, we’ve had a year of significant accomplishments.” [H-L]

The Department of Justice helped kill a bill intended to enhance transparency and refuses to release records on its efforts to block the legislation, the Freedom of the Press Foundation claims in court. [HuffPo]

It’s almost like Jim Ramsey is being purposefully more terrible than usual in order to set Jerry Abramson up to take over. Ramsey is making Abramson look less terrible. [C-J/AKN]

Kern County, California, where 95 percent of the state’s fracking takes place, is getting sued over a recent decision that did away with public notice and environmental review for oil and gas permits for the next 20 years. [ThinkProgress]

Undergraduates at Eastern Kentucky University and at colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth now have another venue to showcase their scholarly and creative work. [Richmond Register]

For years, Jammie Nichols struggled with a drug habit that left the Florida mother reeling from blackouts, seizures, depression and poverty – and a decision to give one of her children up for adoption. [Reuters]

AK Steel Ashland Works will begin a four-phased mass layoff that will affect 633 at one of the region’s largest employers. [Ashland Independent]

The number of executions in the US in 2015 is the lowest in nearly 25 years, new figures reveal. [BBC]

The City of Glasgow’s budget is roughly where it would be expected at this point in the fiscal year, according to general figures provided at a meeting of the city council’s finance committee on Wednesday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

ObamaCare advocates are growing fearful that several key taxes frozen in Wednesday’s budget deal will never go into effect. [The Hill]

The Community Soup Kitchen will feed more than 1,000 persons next week, if enough volunteers show up to help with the Christmas dinner. [The Morehead News]

Academic learning is usually in the spotlight at school, but teaching elementary-age students “soft” skills like self-control and social skills might help in keeping at-risk kids out of criminal trouble in the future, a study finds. [NPR]

Lexington is so terrible that your kids are just straight up gonna be abducted at school. [H-L]

Apparently the deficit hawks flew south for the winter. At least that’s the conclusion that could be drawn from looking at the price tag for the package of bills unveiled early Wednesday morning to keep the government running and extend a bunch of tax breaks, many permanently. [HuffPo]

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KDP Has Serious Flop Sweat Again

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

Matt Bevin has removed another Democrat from the state House, putting Republicans in a better position to take control of the chamber for the first time since 1921. [H-L]

A grim new statistic is putting the spotlight back on the youngest victims of gun violence, three years after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. [HuffPo]

Greg Stumbo says Kentucky Democrats are ready to lose more state house seats. [C-J/AKN]

Surprising how quickly he was able to churn this book out. He solicited information about a year ago about Rand’s stances on national security and foreign policy. What’s more fascinating is to see Doug Stafford sit on both sides of the fence. He’s behind these anti-Jesse Benton stories, directly or a step removed, while publicly criticizing the book. Just fascinating how that works for him. You folks know I think the Pauls are kooky as hell. I am no fan. But the real drama here is and always has been Doug Stafford. He’s the source of drama in the Paulbot world. [BuzzFeed]

Matt Bevin’s newly appointed commissioner of revenue left his last job, at Lexmark International, after the Lexington-based technology company found a host of accounting errors and declared its internal financial controls to be deficient and in need of remediation. [WFPL]

In a rare senatorial act, full-time Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio joined with a handful of fellow legislators on Friday in an attempt to block local municipalities from undercutting big telecom companies by providing cheap, fast internet service. This is the kind of thing Jamie Comer’s people — like Riggs Lewis — make happen. They work to kill municipal broadband, get rich off TWC, ATT and other providers. You can thank that set of Republican special interests for stifling competition and innovation. [The Intercept]

What is going on in Prestonsburg is not surprising. The land of Greg Stumbo has always been and will always be corrupt. [External PDF Link]

In the midst of an incoherent and incorrect rant on the recent history of mobile technology, failed technology executive Carly Fiorina recounted an apparently true story about how she helped the NSA after 9/11. Actually, it turns out that story may have been classified. [Gawker]

Corbin has been selected as one of six Kentucky towns to host a sports-themed Smithsonian traveling exhibit in 2017. [Richmond Register]

As questions swirl around U.S. efforts to keep people with terrorism ties from entering the country, the story of Rahinah Ibrahim is a cautionary tale. [ProPublica]

City council members voted unanimously Monday night to accept a gift of 40 acres of land located adjacent to the Cave City Convention Center from the Gaunce family. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Places that spend less on Medicare do not necessarily spend less on health care over all. [NY Times]

Next up, the audit staff need to dig in to Williamsburg Independent. Because HOO BOY. [H-L]

Around two thousand and sixteen years ago, a non-Christian Middle Eastern couple was in need of refuge for the night. There was no room at the inn, but the innkeeper dug deep into his humanity and offered the travelers, one of whom was pregnant with another Man’s child, the option of bedding down in the barn. It was there that Jesus Christ was born. [HuffPo]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]