- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014
Senate OKs bill to form adult protection registry

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A bill aimed at creating an adult protection registry in Kentucky to give more assurances that the elderly and disabled are receiving compassionate care was passed by the state Senate on Thursday.

The registry would list people found to have abused, neglected or exploited vulnerable adults.

Care providers for those adults would have to check the registry to make sure potential employees, contractors and volunteers don’t have a history of abusing the elderly or disabled.

The checks would be with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, the bill’s lead sponsor, cited the case of a woman in Somerset who said she was beaten routinely by an employee while living in an institution for disabled people. The employee was eventually fired but found another job at a facility caring for vulnerable people, Gregory said.

“It is extremely important that this legislation move forward so we can protect our seniors and our disabled citizens who are most vulnerable from those who would seek to do them harm,” said Gregory, R-Monticello.


Kentucky Senate OKs concealed guns in bars

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky residents could carry concealed deadly weapons in bars - as long as they don’t drink - under a bill passed by the Kentucky Senate Thursday. The measure still needs approval from the House.

Current state law prohibits concealed firearms from being carried into bars, and opponents of the measure cautioned that the state could see a rise in gun-related violence if it becomes law.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, compared those concerns to similar worries that were expressed before Kentucky passed its concealed-weapons law in 1998.

“Many folks were against it and predicted there would be a lot of problems with all kinds of things,” Schickel said. “Literally, blood running in the streets.”

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, said that because it would require gun-safety training, “there is a lot to like about this bill.” But he said he would vote against the measure “because we know the danger of guns.”

Of the current law that prohibits loaded guns in bars, Thomas added, “There was a reason that this was the law. Because, as common-sense adults, we know that guns and alcohol don’t mix. It is a prescription for disaster any time you put the two together.”


Beshear sets goals to improve Kentucky’s health

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear set out a broad strategy Thursday to make Kentuckians healthier, aiming to cut the state’s chronically high rates of smoking, obesity and cancer deaths.

Other objectives include expanding health insurance coverage to nearly every Kentuckian, reducing cardiovascular and drug overdose deaths and improving dental health in the next five years.

Kentucky’s dismal health status hurts productivity - from workplaces to classrooms, Beshear said. It harms the state’s image with business prospects, drives up health costs and lowers quality of life.

“Cars don’t get built when sick workers stay home,” the Democratic governor said. “Children don’t learn when they’re in bed with a cold, asthma or crying from infected gums.”

The goals would be accomplished through a combination of executive branch and legislation actions, public-private partnerships and enrollment of more people in health coverage, he said.

The initiative, dubbed “kyhealthnow,” will be overseen by a group led by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson. The group will meet quarterly and make progress reports to the governor every six months. It will recruit local governments, businesses, schools and others to be part of the effort to make the state healthier.


University presidents ask lawmakers to fight cuts

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Presidents from Kentucky’s biggest universities urged legislators to fight proposed cuts to higher education during testimony Thursday before a House panel.

Under Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed budget, both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville would receive a 2.5 percent funding reduction. The reduction would follow a 6 percent cut to the universities’ general fund appropriations under the 2012 biennial budget, for a total of $10 million in funding cuts.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto told the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education that the school has not met its state mandate to become a top 20 research university. He said continued state investment in revenue-producing medical programs is crucial to securing outside research dollars.

“We certainly have progress on certain fronts,” Capilouto said of the two schools’ nationally funded cancer research programs. “Our research funding for the past year at the same time has been up 19 percent.”

A former employee of the University of Louisville, Rep. Reggie Meeks, D-Louisville, asked the presidents to deliver reports on the size and costs of their administrative staffs.

Meeks also expressed concern that the schools’ acclaimed sports programs could be contributing a larger portion of funding to academic programs.

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