News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EST

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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Key casino supporter says he lacks Senate support

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A proposed ballot measure aimed at letting Kentucky voters decide whether to legalize casino gambling hasn’t garnered enough support to gain state Senate passage, a key supporter said Monday night.

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum acknowledged he hasn’t lined up sufficient support after emerging from a closed-door meeting of fellow Senate Republicans to discuss the hot-button issue.

Seum, a Louisville Republican, said he wasn’t giving up on his proposed constitutional amendment, with more than half of this year’s 60-day General Assembly session still left.

“At this point in time, I have no plans of putting it on the (Senate) floor, obviously, until I have the necessary votes to pass a constitutional amendment,” Seum told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said the “sentiment is not there” right now to pass it in the Senate.

As a proposed change to the state Constitution, the measure would need at least 23 supporting votes in the 38-member chamber. Thayer declined to say how many votes were still needed.

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Ky. House passes coal-counties scholarship bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Legislation aimed at expanding a scholarship program for students in Kentucky’s struggling coal regions won overwhelming support in the state House on Monday.

The measure is seen as a way to help diversify the economy of coal counties by increasing the number of their residents who achieve four-year college degrees close to home.

“It’s proven that if they stay at home and get their education, they’re more likely to get that bachelor’s degree and not drop out of school,” said Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Hopefully, they’ll stay in your communities and improve them.”

The bill sailed through the House on a 92-0 vote and now goes to the Senate.

The proposal is one of House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s top legislative priorities this year.

Under the bill, the scholarship recipients would, for the most part, attend four-year college campuses in coal counties. The hope is that they would pursue careers in the same region after graduation.

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