Fire Alarm Grant

A $40,000 grant from the American Electric Power Foundation is helping make hundreds of homes across Eastern Kentucky safer.”It’s amazing what all people don’t realize they need a smoke detector. They have no idea,” said Debbie Rainier, the executive director of the American Red Cross Eastern Kentucky Chapter.The grant is funding at least three smoke alarm installations throughout Eastern Kentucky.Officials say one installation was completed in the fall in Greenup County, the second on Monday in Letcher County and another one is planned for May in Pike County.

Proposed Sales Tax Increase

For Kentucky consumers, there’s a chance that shopping might be a little more expensive in a little over a year.Rep. John Sims Jr. (D-Flemingsburg) is sponsoring a bill that would raise sales tax to eight percent starting January 2021. If it passes, it would be the first sales tax increase since 1990.The bill would also raise personal property tax to six percent and motor vehicle usage tax up to eight percent.Small business owners in Eastern Kentucky say that the increase in sales tax, along with a possible minimum wage increase that is also making its way through the Kentucky House of Representatives, could really hurt them.

Earthquake In Kentucky

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake hit along the Kentucky-Tennessee border region Monday aftrnoon. This is believed to be the strongest earthquake felt in southeastern Kentucky since 2012. That one was a 4.3 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of that quake was eight miles west of Whitesburg, near the Blackey community of Letcher County. The quake caused some minor structural damage at the Letcher County courthouse and near the epicenter.

Offering Transitional Support

Republican leaders in the Kentucky House are preparing to unveil legislation aimed at increasing the state’s workforce by offering transitional support to ease people off public assistance says House Speaker David Osborne. The bill designation signals it’s one of the top priorities for House GOP leaders.The measure is intended to tackle “systemic problems” that can discourage people from taking jobs out of fear of losing public benefits, Osborne said. The result is that people remain locked in poverty.

Stopping False Information

Two Kentucky General Assembly leaders are considering a rule change requiring witnesses who testify during legislative committee meetings to be sworn in under oath to stop a potential spread of false information.House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers said Friday that sometimes witnesses give false statements during meetings and that information often ends up in news reports, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.The two are considering a rule change that would requite witnesses to be sworn in under oath, possibly subjecting them to a perjury charge if they lie.

Season Ticket Prices Reduced

Kentucky will reduce total season ticket prices and K Fund donations for 57% of seats at Kroger Field this fall, with 36% unchanged for seven home games.The Wildcats, who won the Belk Bowl to finish 8-5 last season, will play one fewer home game this fall compared with 2019. The difference will be reflected in season ticket prices, the school said in a news release.

Raising The Minimum Wage

Rep. Kathy Hinkle (D-Louisa) is leading Democratic lawmakers in Frankfort by sponsoring a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2027, with incremental increases until then.The legislation, in part, is one of the main goals of Governor Andy Beshear, who made wages one of his talking points in last week’s State of the Commonwealth address.“There are far too many Kentucky moms and dads working two, three, four jobs just to try to scrape together the monthly budget, all while their bills go up but their wages stay the same,” Beshear said at the address.

Appeals Court Rules for Breathitt Co Fiscal Court in Nomination Flap

A three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the Breathitt County Fiscal Court cannot be forced to approve the judge/executive’s nominee for county road supervisor.

The panel denied Judge/Executive Jeffrey Noble’s petition to require the Fiscal Court to ratify his appointment of Johnny Stacey.

After the fiscal court initially voted down the appointment, Noble was asking for a court order that would have made them approve the nomination.

Noble has the option to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear the case on further appeal.

Beshear Continues Push for Criminal Justice Overhaul

Gov. Andy Beshear intensified his push for a criminal-justice overhaul, saying rising inmate populations and crumbling prisons are sapping the state of money needed for education and health care.

Calling it the “fiscally responsible thing to do,” Beshear said Friday that the state needs to reduce incarceration rates, which in turn would create opportunities to consolidate prisons.

The Democratic governor called for “robust, nonpartisan” discussions among state lawmakers to tackle the issue. Estimated cost increases to maintain operations through fiscal 2022 exceed $115 million.

Miners Back to Work in Blackburn Bottom After Paychecks Clear

The protest at the railroad tracks in Blackburn Bottom has ended, but hard feelings remain for the miners returning to work.

The dozen or so workers left their camp Wednesday when they finally received their paychecks. But as of now, it’s not 100% sure that those that protested will have jobs when work at the mine resumes.

One miner told WYMT-TV that the decline in the industry has left workers on edge. A number of those workers on Friday went to the Pike County Fiscal Court to discuss employment and financial assistance options with the Kentucky Labor Department, the Kentucky Career Center, and Big Sandy Community Action.