- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014
Senate passes proposed amendment on regulations

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate on Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to block administrative regulations issued by the governor’s administration when the General Assembly isn’t meeting.

The measure would provide a check on executive branch powers that have allowed the governor to establish programs such as Common Core education standards and the Kynect health care exchange, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said.

“There is no statute to allow the executive branch to set up health care exchanges in Kentucky,” Thayer said.

Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, spoke on behalf of the proposed amendment.

“If we are out of session and the governor or any agency puts in a regulation contrary to what we say his authority was, I see nothing wrong with us saying, ‘You wait until the next session if you want to do something.’”

The measure passed the Senate 24-14 and it now moves to the House. If passed by the General Assembly and approved by voters in November, the legislation would allow lawmakers to prohibit adoption of administrative regulations it finds to be deficient.

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Minimum wage bill clears Ky. House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s minimum wage would rise for the first time since 2009 under a bill that cleared a divided state House of Representatives on Thursday evening. The partisan debate focused on the struggles of the poor and the potential hardships the higher wage could pose for businesses, schools and local governments.

Under the measure, the minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 per hour in July 2016. There would be 95 cent increases in three phases.

The bill cleared the House on a 54-44 vote after a bitingly partisan debate that lasted more than two and a half hours.

“When you get up and go to work every day, and you work hard, you ought to be paid something you can live on,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who has made raising the minimum wage issue his top legislative priority this session.

The bill was amended Thursday to exempt businesses with annual gross receipts of under $500,000.

The measure now goes to the Republican-led Senate, where it could face an uphill struggle. The bill also includes provisions to deal with pay-equity problems.

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Bill seeks to prevent sale of student data

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky Senate committee passed a bill Thursday aimed at preventing the sale of student digital data by technology companies.

The measure approved by the Senate Education Committee would strengthen privacy protections for students using certain technology resources at school, said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon.

“Adults have a choice when it comes to the online services they use,” Higdon said. “Students do not. No company in a position to store private, school data should be able to sell that data for profit.”

The bill also would require school districts to make available to the public a list of all third-party and privately contracted Web-based services used in the district. Schools would have to notify parents of the types of student information transferred to third-party service providers.

Higdon said the protections in the bill are similar to laws enacted in Kentucky to protect government data. The bill would also provide for agency audits of school data collection.

The bill passed unanimously. It goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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Case against judge-executive, treasurer dismissed

McKEE, Ky. (AP) - An eastern Kentucky judge has dismissed charges against Jackson County Judge-Executive William O. Smith and county Treasurer Beth Sallee.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1kiu9X3http://bit.ly/1kiu9X3 ) said special prosecutor Jackie Steele asked District Judge Renee Muncy to dismiss the charges Thursday, citing lack of evidence.

Sheriff Denny Peyman, who arrested Smith and Sallee last month, said he plans to ask a grand jury to reinstate the charges, which Peyman said were based on findings from a 2011 audit.

Sharon Allen, a lawyer for Smith and Sallee, said the defense was aware all along there was no evidence to back up the charges, which included tampering with public records, forgery and falsifying business records.

A state audit last year found that Peyman’s office had a deficit of $112,889 in 2012, and the county’s fiscal court took control of the office’s budget.

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