- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014
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.


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.


Lexington officials unveil Rupp renovation plan

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Rupp Arena will be modernized as a stand-alone facility with a glass-and-steel appearance that state and local officials promise will improve accessibility and comfort for Kentucky basketball fans.

Lexington city officials on Monday revealed the long-awaited redesign of the 38-year-old home of Wildcats men’s basketball, with an estimated $310 million budget including $65 million in state bonds. The project is expected to be completed by fall 2017.

The new design will separate Rupp from the adjoining convention center and replace its enclosed beige facade with windows, which Mayor Jim Gray says will allow views from inside and outside the building. It adds a center-hanging scoreboard and chair backs throughout, a reconfiguration that university deputy athletic director DeWayne Peevy says could include creation of club suites to retain its capacity of 23,500.

As for Kentucky’s input, Peevy said, “We’re on board to the point where we’ve spent a lot of time since the summer, to the design phase to looking at a new lease agreement to trying to figure out what (Kentucky’s) financial plan will be finalized. … We all have to come together to make this happen.”

Naming rights will be determined, but Gray stressed that Rupp will be included in the title of the project he believes will benefit fans and the city.

“I like the whole notion of (an) indoor-outdoor fan experience,” Gray said of the final design, “but it’s (an) event experience. … A before-the-game experience, an after-the-game experience. It’s more than about just sitting in your seats at a game. We’ve seen this work in other places.”


Bill keeps landlords from liability in dog attacks

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Landlords who live on their own property would not be financially liable for a tenant’s dog if it attacks another person under a bill passed by the Kentucky Senate.

Republican Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset called the bill an effort to reinforce personal responsibility and protect small-business owners.

Senate Democrats express concerns that public health services like Medicaid would have to pay for medical costs in the event of a dog bite. They offered an amendment requiring insurance coverage by either the landlord or tenant in the event of an attack.

The bill passed 29-8 Monday without the amendment. It now moves to the House for consideration.


The legislation is Senate Bill 78.

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