Another Frustrating Eastern Kentucky Pipe Dream

We love Eastern Kentucky more than anything but it’s never going to be like Gatlinburg. Eastern Kentucky has the potential to develop into a bigger regional tourism destination, helping boost an economy sapped by the loss of coal jobs, according to a study commissioned by an arm of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. [H-L]

Frustrated at the lack of enthusiasm for his vice presidential pick Mike Pence, Donald Trump is now telling those close to him that he wants a do-over of sorts, which he aims to get by rolling out the names of potential cabinet members. [HuffPo]

Despite his pledge to immediately offer his resignation to University of Louisville’s new Board of Trustees once it was legally constituted, President James Ramsey declined to do so at its first meeting Wednesday. [C-J/AKN]

Donald Trump’s family members, close political associates and several celebrities will be among those speaking at next week’s GOP convention in Cleveland. [The Hill]

The Carter County Public Library Board of Trustees officially withdrew its tax proposal at Monday night’s meeting of Carter Fiscal Court. [Ashland Independent]

The U.S. missile defense system to counter attacks from rogue states like North Korea has no proven capability to protect the United States and is not on a credible path to achieve that goal, a science advocacy group said on Thursday. [Reuters]

How a man with children of color – immigrants – could support a bigot like this is beyond telling. People can get upset all they want for mentioning Matt Bevin’s children but it’s alarming that this man doesn’t have his shit together enough to speak out against Trump’s extreme racism. [Ronnie Ellis]

In 2009, Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers interviewed their client and prepared a handwritten, first-person account of the torture their client suffered at the hands of the U.S. government. [ProPublica]

Kentuckians with certain Class D felony convictions are now eligible to apply to clear their criminal records as long as they have stayed out of trouble for five years. [WFPL]

A federal judge dismissed evidence gathered by a warrantless cellphone-tracking device that locks onto a phone’s location by pretending to be a cell tower for the first time Tuesday. [ThinkProgress]

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Department is at it again. This time, they’ve arrested five they believe have been trafficking heroin throughout the county. [The Morehead News]

Last month, in a California speech advertised as a major foreign policy address, Hillary Clinton zeroed in on an enemy at home — Donald Trump, whom she described as “temperamentally unfit” to lead the most powerful nation in the world. [WaPo]

The tallest building in Frankfort is for sale. The Bevin administration has labeled the 25-story Capital Plaza Tower as surplus property and put it on the auction block. [H-L]

Donald Trump introduced Mike Pence as his running mate at a rambling press conference on Saturday that seemed to focus more on Trump himself than his vice-presidential nominee. [HuffPo]

June Receipts: Not A Total Disaster

June (end of year) receipts weren’t a total disaster for Kentucky. The General Fund increased by 1.9% to $10,338.9 million and the Road Fund rose 9.5% to $1,482.5 million.

And by not a total disaster? That means they were not good.

Highlights:

  • Individual taxes increased 5.2% or $212.6 million
  • Sales & Use taxes rose 6% or $195.4 million
  • Cancer Stick Taxes grew a whopping 1.5% for the entire year, up just $3.4 million
  • Business Taxes dropped $1.5 million, falling 10.9% for the quarter
  • Coal Severance Taxes $120.6 million for the year, down 45.3% for the quarter
  • Property taxes rose 2.5%, up $14.1 million
  • Lot-tree & Other Revenue grew 9.2%, up $20.3 million
  • Motor fuels plummeted by more than $100 million
  • Vehicle Use Taxes, beating estimates (AKA a low-balled number to make people look good) by $51.6 million

Want to read the entire report? Click here for the PDF.

ICYMI: Comer Is Under Investigation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is wrestling with an unenviable, arguably impossible task this election year: protecting Senate Republicans from the political upheaval caused by Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. [H-L]

A graphic video shows a Baton Rouge police officer shooting and killing Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was selling CDs in front of a convenience store early Tuesday morning. [HuffPo]

SURPRISE! Bevin’s proposal to reshape the state’s Medicaid program ran into a buzzsaw of criticism at its first public hearing since the governor announced it last Wednesday. [C-J/AKN]

A regulatory effort by the Obama administration to crack down on tax deals is facing backlash from business groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. [The Hill]

Charles Gabbard, who is accused of stealing donations from volunteers meant for Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter (KRRAS) and a volunteer’s cellphone was indicted this month on charges relating to the incident. [Hazard Herald]

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Tuesday fighting economic espionage was a priority for the Department of Justice. [Reuters]

Access Fund, the national advocacy organization that protects America’s climbing, is excited to announce that Breaks Interstate Park, which sits across the southwest Virginia/southeast Kentucky line, is now officially open to rock climbing. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

At a time when Democrats and Republicans in Congress can’t agree on just about anything, there is one issue that unites them: the urgent need for criminal justice reform. [ProPublica]

Bobby Paisley’s health insurance covers his vision and dental care. He knows, because he and his wife pay for it. “I don’t have to do community service, I don’t have to earn points and I don’t have to wait,” he said. But that’s exactly what some 400,000 Kentuckians would have to do if they need an eye exam or a tooth pulled under Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program. [Richmond Register]

In his final State of the Union address in January, President Obama made an ambitious pledge to overhaul the management of fossil fuels on America’s public lands in his final year, focusing, in particular, on the antiquated and little-known federal coal program. [ThinkProgress]

Beginning this fall, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) will offer a free dual credit class to Kentucky public high school juniors, allowing them to earn high school and college credit at the same time. [Ashland Independent]

If you missed it, Jamie Comer and his crew are under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General. [Page One]

Giant coal producer Murray Energy has issued notices that it could lay off up to 4,400 coal mine workers in six states come September. A news release from the St. Clairsville, Ohio, company says it issued the notices for its operations in Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, Utah and Pennsylvania. [H-L]

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled. [HuffPo]

Reminder: Matt Bevin Has No Concept Of Ethics… Or Anything, Really

Just when you thought Matt Bevin and his people couldn’t get more ignorant? Matt Bevin has signed an executive order that effectively gives him control over all appointments to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission without any input from the state attorney general and state auditor. Almost as funny as the Personnel Secretary begging folks to help them dig through Beshear data to uncover corruption because they don’t know anything about Kentucky. HAHAHA. You can’t fix the kind of stupid these people possess. [H-L]

Senate Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to put judges on federal courts. But now, with just months left in his term, they’re not even pretending to try to let judicial nominees through. [HuffPo]

Isn’t it fun watching Kentucky’s half-literate governator claim “God” has sanctioned his extreme Medicaid cuts? That’s what Jesus would do – choke even more out of the working poor, deny access to dental and vision, claim it’s helping them. [C-J/AKN]

The coal industry is slated to lose clout in the next Congress, with term limits set to force out a chairman who has frequently battled with the Obama administration on behalf of mining companies. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Keeping Eastern Kentucky Impoverished) will relinquish the gavel of the House Appropriations Committee in January, after having led the powerful panel for six years, which is the maximum allowed under GOP rules. [The Hill]

A deadly shooting took place in the South Fork community of Breathitt County on Saturday. One person was pronounced deceased at the scene and two others seriously injured. [Hazard Herald]

Reverberations from the U.S. Supreme Court’s major ruling backing abortion rights were felt on Tuesday as the justices rejected bids by Mississippi and Wisconsin to revive restrictions on abortion doctors matching those struck down in Texas on Monday. [Reuters]

The Harlan Fiscal Court discussed a situation concerning the safety of a much-used bridge on U.S. 119 in Cumberland during a special-called meeting on Monday. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

The children of Vietnam vets describe how they believe their fathers’ exposure to Agent Orange during the war has impacted their families and their health. [ProPublica]

All members of the Madison Fiscal Court took turns June 14 criticizing the Madison County and Berea school boards for paying the sheriff a 1.5 percent fee for collecting its property taxes instead of the 4.25 percent paid by all other local taxing entities except the ambulance board. [Richmond Register]

Local communities are increasingly passing laws to control crime and nuisances on rental properties. They do so mostly by limiting the number of times police can be called to a residence. But it turns out that crime victims — especially victims of domestic abuse — are often the ones who end up being penalized. [NPR]

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin proclaims the days of “pay to play” ended with his arrival in Frankfort. But some House Democrats say if you’re not willing to play, Bevin isn’t reluctant to make you pay. [Ronnie Ellis]

On Tuesday night, 128 members of Congress weighed in to urge a federal appeals court to protect against sexual orientation-based discrimination under existing civil rights laws. [BuzzFeed]

Massie’s ideas about “sovereignty” are an extreme example of the naïve thinking that fueled the Brexit vote, has propelled Trump’s candidacy and energizes Tea Party activists. It is our inner 4-year-old screaming, “You can’t tell me what to do!” [H-L]

The draft of the 2016 Democratic Party platform endorses abolishing the death penalty, a break with the views of its presumptive presidential nominee. [HuffPo]

“Stop Being So Poor, You Poors!” -Bevin

The Medicaid revamp proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin last week is built on a belief that providing health care to low-income people somehow robs them of their dignity. Also, that 20 percent of Kentuckians lacked health insurance only a few years ago, not because they couldn’t afford it, but because they were disengaged or didn’t understand deductibles. On that dubious base, Bevin wants to replace a fairly straightforward system with a red-tape tangle of penalties, incentives, premiums and cutbacks in coverage, including some proposals that the federal government already has rejected in other states. [H-L]

Mitch McConnell (R-Cowardly Grandmother) is supporting Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump for president — but he isn’t saying, at least for now, whether he thinks the business mogul is actually up to the job. [HuffPo]

It sure is fun watching the newspaper folks ignore the reality that Nancy Rodriguez misreported and/or ignored shenanigans in the Felner Scandal until she had egg all over her face. [C-J/AKN]

West Virginia’s three most devastated counties and possibly others will receive federal assistance after the state’s worst flooding in more than a century killed at least 24 people, officials said on Saturday. [Reuters]

Mayor Bill May and City of Frankfort Commissioners say they fully support actions taken by Police Maj. Rob Richardson in regard to recent allegations that appeared in the discovery file for the case against Tom Banta. [State Journal]

President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded that lawmakers put politics aside and move forward on the longstanding impasse over gun legislation in the wake of the latest tragedy. [Politico]

A house built with illicit drug money soon will shelter addicts while they work to get clean and sober. [Ashland Independent]

Republicans STILL DON’T have an actual health care alternative and they never will. The House GOP’s health-care proposal would expand savings accounts, provide tax credits for buying insurance, and allow people to purchase coverage across state lines. Just don’t ask how much it costs. [The Atlantic]

Country and bluegrass music will ring from the hills of eastern Rowan County with a concert for the late Keith Whitley on Friday, July 1, at Poppy Mountain. [The Morehead News]

Lives are on the line: the smearing of LGBT individuals by right-wing extremists is more than disturbing – it’s dangerous. [Salon]

Alyne Barrick left her home in the Laurel Ridge community of Edmonson County on the afternoon of April 12, 1996, to walk her dog. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A tax break that benefits only about 2,000 people adds up to billions in savings for them — and billions lost for the US economy. Leo Hindery Jr. remembers the call he got the night before he was to testify before Congress, in September of 2007, to close a tax loophole enjoyed by private-equity investors. It was from Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, the largest private-equity management firm in the US. [Bill Moyers]

Meanwhile, the people who do all the actual work at UK are paid dirt in comparison. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto received a 48 percent increase in his base pay and a three-year contract extension Friday. [H-L]

The U.S. Supreme Court is due on Monday to issue its first major abortion ruling since 2007 against a backdrop of unremitting divisions among Americans on the issue and a decades-long decline in the rate at which women terminate pregnancies. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Is Still Screwed. Happy Friday!

Houses and other buildings on 10-acre lots must be excluded from the total acreage before an agricultural exemption on property taxes can be given to a homeowner, according to an official legal opinion from the Kentucky Department of Revenue to Fayette County Property Valuation Administrator David O’Neill. [H-L]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) continued her streak of lambasting presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump during remarks at the Massachusetts Democrats state convention on Saturday. [HuffPo]

John Taylor ducked through a greenhouse door, and in a few strides, he was surrounded by long rows of pointy-leafed green plants. [C-J/AKN]

Democrats feel better than ever about winning back the Senate majority. Democratic leadership aides say a nine-seat pickup is not out of the question and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has recruited aggressively in second- and third-tier races to take advantage of a possible tsunami. [The Hill]

A Berea resident living next to Silver Creek Elementary School addressed the Madison County Board of Education Thursday, protesting a project to extend a driveway on school property. In her remarks to board members, Uylonda Smith said work was started on Monday to extend a student pickup lane past her property, approximately 20 feet from her back yard. Smith stated the extension of the driveway will infringe on the privacy of homeowners who live along the driveway, and that the driveway’s proximity presents an immediate safety hazard. [Richmond Register]

The water crisis in the West has renewed debate about the effectiveness of major dams, with some pushing for the enormous Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River to be decommissioned. [ProPublica]

The newly formed Carter County Health Department finds itself up against a wall, facing a half million dollar shortfall from previous revenue estimates. [Ashland Independent]

We’re looking at you, Matt Bevin and the Republican Party of Kentucky. Rejection from family members seems to have a significant influence on the health of transgender people, a new study finds. Trans people whose spouses, parents, or children chose not to speak with them after transitioning experienced much higher rates of suicide attempts and substance abuse. [ThinkProgress]

The Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit was held Monday at the East Kentucky Expo Center. The SOAR initiative strives to bring economic development to the Appalachian communities of Kentucky that have struggled for decades with poverty. Monday’s summit was filled with headline-worthy activity. [Hazard Herald]

On 27 January, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, the man who called the United States “the Great Satan” – sent a secret message to Washington. [BBC]

As if Harlan County doesn’t have more to worry about than some marijuana? [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

It’s a rare and remarkable view into America’s public schools and the challenges that continue some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education: The Civil Rights Data Collection survey. [NPR]

Matt Bevin wants to put the brakes on Attorney General Andy Beshear’s efforts to get the Kentucky Supreme Court to consider quickly Beshear’s case against Bevin’s controversial midyear budget cuts to public universities and colleges. [H-L]

Top officials within Charles Koch’s powerful policy network plan to meet with aides to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the industrialist told USA TODAY. [USA Today]

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People Are Probably Less Excited For The McConnell Book Than They Are About Louisville’s Murder Rate

The U.S Department of Labor has funded a grant worth $3.4 million to help retrain out-of-work coal miners in Kentucky. [H-L]

Donald Trump scorns traditional presidential candidate standards. The Donald doesn’t do what’s expected. And he certainly doesn’t do what he tells other candidates they must do. [HuffPo]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who learned an early lesson about the value of patience and persistence during a childhood bout with polio, has some advice for Republicans alarmed about the prospect of having presidential candidate Donald Trump at the top of the ticket and in the White House. [C-J/AKN]

After a rampage that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, key U.S. lawmakers pledged to seek a law requiring technology companies to give law enforcement agencies a “back door” to encrypted communications and electronic devices, such as the iPhone used by one of the shooters. [Reuters]

The more than 400,000 people who received health insurance from Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program will likely not have to pay monthly premiums under Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s reforms, but they could have reduced benefits, the state’s Medicaid commissioner said Friday. [Richmond Register]

It turns out that a big chunk of Trump’s speaking fees revolve around ACN, a controversial multilevel marketing company that’s been accused of bilking people out of millions of dollars. If presented in proper context by the press, Trump’s long-running and lucrative relationship with ACN would essentially eliminate questions about Clinton’s speeches. And if queries persisted, the press would have to demand Trump also release nearly a decade worth of transcripts. [MMFA]

Most schools in Kentucky have bully prevention programs, but not all top school administrators have received training in prevention of bullying, according to a study by the Kentucky Center for School Safety. [Ashland Independent]

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says Edward Snowden performed a “public service” by triggering a debate over surveillance techniques, but still must pay a penalty for illegally leaking a trove of classified intelligence documents. [CNN]

Jobs, jobs, jobs – listen to Kentucky politicians from either party and you quickly learn his or her “top priority is good jobs and more good jobs.” [Ronnie Ellis]

For years, Zofran was the most popular morning-sickness medication in the U.S. Now it’s being accused of causing birth defects. The larger issue is a drug-safety system that excludes women from clinical trials, potentially putting them and their babies at risk. [ProPublica]

Way to go, Morehead. A man is behind bars after police say he stabbed another during a confrontation at the Community Soup Kitchen. [The Morehead News]

Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour. [WaPo]

Hotel and motel stays in Fayette County will cost more this fall. On Thursday, the Urban County Council voted unanimously to increase the Fayette County hotel and motel tax by 2.5 percentage points to pay for a nearly $250 million overhaul and expansion of the Lexington Convention Center. That means hotel taxes will rise to 9.5 percent. [H-L]

As the nation once again honors American war dead on Memorial Day, instead of spouting the usual nationalistic platitudes that that U.S. soldiers fought to keep the country “safe and free,” perhaps we should analyze whether that is really true. [HuffPo]