Kentucky’s Economy: Tanking Under Bevin

This scandal involves something called the Pee Palace. Five partners in a Russell County drug-testing lab have been sentenced to prison terms after being convicted in a health care fraud case. [H-L]

As Donald Trump’s administration takes steps backward in the world’s fight against climate change, China is ramping up its commitment. Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on Tuesday made good on his promise to launch a national carbon market. Officials from the National Development and Reform Commission unveiled the highly anticipated emissions trading system during a conference call with industry and government representatives, the Australian Financial Review reported. [HuffPo]

Drowned out amid the uproar over pension reform and stunning allegations of sexual harassment in the legislature this fall has been a public policy message that will have a far greater impact on the lives of Kentuckians: The next state budget has a $1 billion hole to fill, and if there is no new revenue, massive cuts to programs are coming when the legislature convenes to tackle the problem. [C-J/AKN]

The Department of Health and Human Services tried to play down on Saturday a report that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been barred from using seven words or phrases, including “science-based,” “fetus,” “transgender” and “vulnerable,” in agency budget documents. [NY Times]

Former Barren Metcalfe Family Court Judge W. Mitchell Nance — who stepped down from the bench Saturday — received a public reprimand from the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission on Tuesday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Just before leaving his Defense Department job two months ago, intelligence officer Luis Elizondo quietly arranged to secure the release of three of the most unusual videos in the Pentagon’s secret vaults: raw footage from encounters between fighter jets and “anomalous aerial vehicles” — military jargon for UFOs. [WaPo]

Those waiting for a preview of any proposed public pension system reform coming in the 2018 General assembly are still waiting after Monday’s meeting of the Public Pension Oversight Board. [Ronnie Ellis]

Mmmm hmm. Told y’all “Green Party” jackasses so. The top congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has set its sights on the Green Party and its nominee, Jill Stein. [BuzzFeed]

State Budget Director John Chilton said Gov. Matt Bevin is likely to issue a budget reduction order within the next week or so in the wake of an official revenue forecast that state receipts will fall $156.1 million short of projections this year. [Ronnie Ellis]

A U.S. District Court judge ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration must allow access to abortion for two pregnant teenagers who are in the country illegally, escalating a high-profile legal fight. [Reuters]

A new permanent exhibit opening Sunday at the University of Louisville planetarium includes meteorites that visitors can touch. [WFPL]

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had his office professionally examined earlier this year to look for covert surveillance devices. [The Hill]

A contractor pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge for paying more than $530,000 in bribes and kickbacks to a St. Joseph Hospital executive in exchange for contracting work. In U.S. District Court in Lexington, Rocky Williams, 50, who lives in Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The restitution amount included in the plea agreement is $532,660. [H-L]

Russian chess champion and political activist Garry Kasparov has a chilling warning for Americans: While you’re distracted by the bully in the White House, democratic institutions are being ripped apart. Kasparov said he sees some of the same tactics he witnessed in Russia being used in the U.S., like a leader “lying constantly while attacking targets for lying” and the “escalation of rhetoric to dictatorial extremes.” [HuffPo]

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Burchett Finally Did Something Good

Offered a deal that could have created 3,500 good jobs but ruined the beloved rural character of a corner of Bourbon County, Fiscal Court members did a remarkable thing in this money-obsessed age: They said no. It helped that this courageous act was popular with their constituents: More than 150 people packed the courthouse Thursday night to make sure magistrates killed this risky deal, which had been sprung on them only a week earlier. [Tom Eblen]

These people are so intentionally corrupt that we should all be alarmed. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) slammed former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a tweet, and indicated that special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign will only be “legitimate” if Republicans like his findings. [HuffPo]

Black drivers in Louisville were nearly twice as likely to have their car searched during routine traffic stops than white drivers in 2016, according to a study from the University of Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

While Congress races to pass a massive tax overhaul by the end of the year, Republicans in state capitals across the country find themselves in a bind as they plan their own state budget requirements. [The Hill]

Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett officially withdrew his name as a candidate for re-election, Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones confirmed on Friday. [Ashland Independent]

A U.S. judge on Friday blocked Donald Trump’s administration from moving forward with new rules that undermined an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide health insurance that covers women’s birth control. [Reuters]

Dr. Steven Ralston, provost at Morehead State University, has announced his plans to retire. [The Morehead News]

Scores of Texas landowners in the shadow of the border wall say the government should pay them for their damaged property values. [ProPublica]

Barren River Lake State Resort Park will host two Sandhill Crane tours in late January, which will involve guests visiting roost sites around the lake for the birds, as well as observing some of their more popular feeding areas. [Glasgow Daily Times]

One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration, federal records show. [NY Times]

If the Federal Communications Commission follows through with plans to roll back “net neutrality rules,” Kentucky will be among the states challenging that decision in a lawsuit. [WFPL]

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget. [WaPo]

Of course this education reporter is still hyping up charter schools as if they’re a terrific thing. They’ve never done anything hard-hitting on them. The same reporter dragged their feet and ultimately bungled reporting on the Montgomery County nightmare. [H-L]

Sunnie Kahle used to think that if she promised to be good, she could go back to her old school. She’d plead with her great-grandmother to let her enroll again at Timberlake Christian Schools, where she had gone since she was 3 years old. Even if teachers were mean to her, even if other kids said bad things about her, she wouldn’t be mad. She just wanted her old life back. [HuffPo]

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Thanks To Republican-Created Nightmare, Eastern Kentucky Educators Are Planning For Impact

Midway, a town of about 1,500, is now home to a public electric vehicle charging station. [H-L]

Your tax dollars are being used to attack a private business for having a political opinion. Let that sink in. [HuffPo]

Some lawmakers now express unease about the way the deal came together, secrecy surrounding Braidy Industries’ ownership and the unprecedented size of the state’s investment. State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said she would’ve changed her vote had she known how the funds would be used. “Kentucky should not be investing in companies – period – as a shareholder,” said state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

The 14 nations, aside from the United States, on the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council condemned Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week. [The Hill]

The Richmond Police Department purchased new SUV cruisers that entered service this week. [Richmond Register]

Donald Trump flew to Mississippi on Saturday to attend the opening of a civil rights museum, but his visit was marred by the absence of top African-American leaders who stayed away in protest of his policies and record on race relations. [Reuters]

A report saying Kentucky is undermining public education through underfunding is right on the money, local school officials say. [Ashland Independent]

About 700 to 900 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And for every death, dozens of women suffer life-threatening complications. But there is a stark racial disparity in these numbers. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die than white mothers. Nevertheless, black women’s voices are often missing from public discussions about what’s behind the maternal health crisis and how to address the problems. [ProPublica]

A second building for the Maysville Community and Technical College-Rowan Campus will soon be under construction. [The Morehead News]

Around 5:30 each morning, Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day. [NY Times]

Federal-Mogul Motorparts and Lynx Labeling Inc. each received preliminary approval Thursday from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for Kentucky Business Investment Program tax incentives. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row. [WaPo]

Bourbon County officials are considering a plan to expand Bluegrass Station at Avon by 2,500 acres to build an 8,000- to 10,000-foot runway and two two-bay hangars to accommodate C-130 military cargo planes that need to be outfitted for special operations missions, according to a report in the Bourbon County Citizen. [H-L]

Trump inauguration demonstrators are facing severe felony charges that critics say threaten to chill future protests in Washington, D.C. [HuffPo]

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New Republicans: Still Choking Kentucky

***Care about the future of Kentucky? Help us cover FOIA and open records request fees relating to Matt Bevin and Jamie Comer.*** [CLICK HERE]

Really, Tom Eblen? Asking what state officials are going to do about pedestrian deaths in Lexington? Absolutely nothing. You already know that. Because nothing’s ever been done in Louisville. [Tom Eblen]

It was billed as radical tax reform ― reducing taxes for the middle class and closing loopholes for the rich ― but the Republicans have come under serious fire for offering the biggest breaks to companies and the wealthy. [HuffPo]

General Electric Co. will cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as alternative energy supplants demand for coal and other fossil fuels. [C-J/AKN]

A zealous band of Russian trolls flooded Twitter with hundreds of thousands of divisive posts in 2016 — accusing Democrats of satanic practices and supporting rape — in an attempt to influence the presidential election, according to a new analysis of a Twitter database by NBC News. The effort tricked thousands of users into spreading graphic racial epithets across social media, interweaving provocative content with disinformation and falsehoods. [NBC News]

As talks for pension reform continues, many state employees, especially teachers, have been looking closer at retirement. [Richmond Register]

State lawmakers often blur the line between the public’s business and their own. A recent change in Iowa’s tax code spared Mark Chelgren’s machine shop, welding company and wheelchair-parts plant from paying sales tax when buying certain supplies such as saws and cutting fluid. [Public Integrity]

It’s been three years since Sabrina Sigman last saw her son. Paul Clifton Sigman disappeared sometime in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2014. [Ashland Independent]

Here’s a grim picture of the state of the American economy: The CEO of Dollar General explained to the Wall Street Journal why things are looking up for his company. [Vox]

An updated analysis of Kentucky’s poorly funded public pension systems by PEW Charitable Trust indicates previous reforms of the system enacted in 2013 put the systems “on track to full funding provided the state continues to stay on the course charted in 2013.” [Ronnie Ellis]

The mission that resulted in the death of eight soldiers — including four Americans — in a firefight with Islamist militants in Niger earlier this year was the result of reckless behavior by US Special Forces in Africa, according to insiders and officials with knowledge of the operation. [BuzzFeed]

Dennis Chaney, district director for the Barren River District Health Department, is on Monday’s agenda for the Glasgow City Council meeting to discuss information about syringe exchanges. [Glasgow Daily Times]

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled a trove of documents on Friday showing what he said was “irrefutable evidence” that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort violated a court gag order by ghost-writing an opinion piece designed to improve his public image. [Reuters]

The DCCC pushed Jim Gray to run for Congress for a couple reasons. It fears and wants to overlook the black man already in the race. And the woman in the race is backed by the absolute worst people in Kentucky politics. And no, Gray has no shot. [H-L]

His actions speak louder than his words. You know he’s racist and his words are empty. [HuffPo]

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All The Trumpers Are Pleading Guilty

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The Legislative Research Commission’s contract with a Louisville law firm to investigate sexual harassment in the state House of Representatives will cost Kentucky taxpayers up to $50,000. [H-L]

The U.S. Census Bureau is significantly scaling back its preparations for the 2020 census, which experts say could compromise the agency’s ability to accurately conduct its constitutionally mandated count of people. An inaccurate census could have drastic consequences, with the potential to hit minority communities the hardest. [HuffPo]

To some it seems taboo. But a nationally renowned pain doctor says a four-letter word can ease aches and anxiety without the risk of addiction: H-E-M-P. [C-J/AKN]

More than 400 U.S. Marines and their artillery are leaving Syria after helping to capture the city of Raqqa from Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militant group said on Thursday. [Reuters]

Rowan County Fiscal Court is looking at options to help gain more revenue through the more efficient collection of occupational taxes. [The Morehead News]

For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. [ProPublica]

Local officials told state lawmakers they want more control over the way they raise money to fund their governments and they are willing to take responsibility for the “inviolable contract” guaranteeing their employees pension benefits if lawmakers allow them to split off from the state employee pension system. [Ronnie Ellis]

Carl Portman remembers watching, heartbroken, from Anchorage in 2005 as a Senate effort to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lost by two votes. Now, 17 years later, another effort to open up the reserve to oil and gas drilling is working its way through Congress. And this time, the political winds have shifted. [NY Times]

Two 27-year-old Boyd County inmates who overdosed in the jail after taking what authorities believe to be heroin now face contraband charges. [Ashland Independent]

A month after turning himself in for charges he faces connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reached a bail deal with Mueller’s team, according to court documents filed by Manafort’s lawyers Thursday. [TPM]

Matt Bevin’s just a racist bigot. Yes, he has children of color and a minority lieutenant governor. But get a damn grip – everything he says and does is racist horseshit. A plaque in the Kentucky Capitol declaring the only president of the Confederacy to be a hero and a patriot will stay until a lawyer with Republican Matt Bevin’s administration can determine if the decision to remove it was legal. [Richmond Register]

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has agreed to plead guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, marking another monumental development in the wide-ranging probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. [WaPo]

Jefferson Davis, the president of the slave-holding Confederate states, remains a “hero” in Kentucky’s Capitol Rotunda. A commission that oversees state-owned statues voted last month to remove a bronze plaque attached to a controversial statue of Davis that declares him a “patriot — hero — statesman,” but that plan changed Wednesday after questions were raised about the commission’s legal authority take down the plaque. [H-L]

Everything this idiot does is bigoted. Donald Trump somehow made time to mock Asian leaders, who hosted him on his recent trip, during a speech meant to promote GOP tax bills moving through Congress. [HuffPo]

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The Republicans Are Raising Your Taxes

PEE ALERT! Matt Bevin said Thursday he still intends to call a special legislative session on pension reform this calendar year. [H-L]

Republicans insist their tax cut bill will benefit workers, though the legislation has few provisions that directly benefit people with modest incomes in the long run. [HuffPo]

A Northern Kentucky lawyer who previously worked at the state Capitol says she received inappropriate text messages from one of the four House Republicans (Michael Meredith) involved in a secret sexual harassment settlement with another female staffer that cost former House Speaker Jeff Hoover his leadership job. [C-J/AKN]

One of Bigot Donald Trump’s top cabinet officials has met with a long list of lobbyists, corporate executives and wealthy people with business interests before the government, according to calendars the Trump administration fought to keep secret. The calendars for Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina congressman who now runs the White House Office of Management and Budget, offer a glimpse of who has access to the highest levels of the Trump administration. [ProPublica]

House Republican leaders say they are closer to an agreement on pension reform after a closed-door two and a half hour meeting Tuesday — but they still don’t have a final agreement. [Ronnie Ellis]

Meanwhile, in Canada… Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for historical injustices against the LGBT community. [BBC]

Barren County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from September to October, according to a report released by the state Thursday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

As tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to simmer, Hawaii is preparing to resume a statewide test on Friday of a Cold War-era early warning system designed to inform its residents of an impending nuclear attack. [NY Times]

Donald L. Blankenship, the coal executive convicted of conspiring to violate federal safety standards tied to a deadly mine disaster, plans to run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia next year, WCSH-TV reported Wednesday. [Ashland Independent]

America’s diplomatic professionals have issued a dire warning about the crisis facing the State Department: Scores of top diplomats, including some of our highest-ranked career Foreign Service officers, have left the agency at “a dizzying speed” over the past 10 months. [Madeleine Albright]

State Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, welcomed the Kentucky State Senate Majority Caucus Leadership Team Wednesday to his district for its annual retreat. [Richmond Register]

This is beyond insane. There’s no other way to describe it. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday said the wave of recent U.S. disasters, from multiple storms to raging wildfires, must redefine the agency’s role and that localities must be more prepared to shoulder crises. [Reuters]

Communities with strong laws against workplace smoking have lower rates of lung cancer, a new study from the University of Kentucky found. [Linda Blackford]

A visibly frustrated federal judge ordered the Trump administration to tell her — by 5 p.m. Thursday — whether an American citizen the government has detained incommunicado for months has been advised of his constitutional rights or has asked for legal representation. [HuffPo]

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Pension Reform Is Not Now And Never Will Be A Real Thing In Kentucky

Kentucky’s highest court will hear a controversial case involving a Lexington company’s refusal to print a T-shirt for the city’s annual gay-pride festival. [H-L]

This racist jackass is still supported by people like Jeff Hoover and Bob the Bigot Stivers. Donald Trump is reportedly reviving the racist “birther” conspiracy theory, which claims that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. [HuffPo]

A whittled down tree-protection ordinance heads to the Louisville Metro Council for a vote as early as Thursday, nearly a year after the proposal was unveiled. [C-J/AKN]

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday appeared divided over whether a federal agency’s in-house process for challenging patents violates the constitutional rights of patent owners, leaving the fate of a system that has led to a high rate of patent cancellations uncertain. [Reuters]

House Republican leaders say they are closer to an agreement on pension reform after a closed-door two and a half hour meeting Tuesday — but they still don’t have a final agreement. [Ronnie Ellis]

The US consumer financial watchdog was plunged into turmoil on Monday as rival directors vied to take charge amid a lawsuit against the White House. [BBC]

New Greenup County Commissioner Earnest “Earnie” Duty said he wants to help the county build on momentum generated by the announcement of a $1.3-billion aluminum rolling mill. [Ashland Independent]

The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. [WaPo]

A majority of the Glasgow Electric Plant Board’s board of directors decided Tuesday that to drop three broadcast stations in Nashville and Louisville rather than pay the increases demanded for their content, but it will keep the ones in Bowling Green that also bumped up their prices. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Uh, obviously experts disagree with Republicans when it comes to the tax bill. Because facts are facts. Even though facts are something Republicans don’t understand. [NY Times]

Rowan County Fiscal Court is looking at options to help gain more revenue through the more efficient collection of occupational taxes. [The Morehead News]

Last week, we bought more than a dozen housing ads excluding categories of people explicitly protected by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. [ProPublica]

There’s no legitimate pension bill because the modern Republican Party of Kentucky is run by a bunch of con artists who can do nothing but sexually harass folks without power. [H-L]

Global arms experts say North Korea’s latest test of a ballistic missile was an expected but troubling development that further solidifies Kim Jong Un’s role as a nuclear-backed strongman. [HuffPo]

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