Richie Farmer is scheduled to appear in court to finalize a plea deal that could send him to prison for about two years. Farmer, who served two terms as state agriculture commissioner, is expected to enter guilty pleas in federal and state court on government corruption charges today. Farmer was accused of using Department of Agriculture employees to work on his Frankfort home, including building a basketball court in his backyard.
Honorably discharged veterans may now obtain specially designated driver's licenses in Tennessee.The licenses recognizing veterans' military service were authorized under a 2011 state law, but the designation could not be included until a recent redesign of Tennessee driver's licenses. Veterans must present their discharge papers to receive the special designation on their licenses or photo ID cards. No extra fee applies for the designation when licenses are renewed.
The commander of the Division of Vehicle Enforcement has asked lawmakers to provide pay raises to his officers. Lt. Col. Keith Peercy said KVE officers' starting pay is some $9,000 a year less than that of state police troopers. He said that needs to be changed to prevent turnover within the agency that's charged with enforcing laws regarding commercial vehicles traveling Kentucky highways. Beginning troopers make just less than $40,000 a year.
More than half of the cruisers now being used by Kentucky state police troopers have logged over 100,000 miles and are becoming costly to repair. State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said financial woes are preventing the department from replacing older cruisers as quickly as he'd like. The result, he told lawmakers Thursday, has been high maintenance costs that have reached about $180,000 a month.
More than 60 Tennessee school superintendents have signed a petition calling on the governor and state lawmakers to re-evaluate the leadership at the Tennessee Department of Education. The superintendents say Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman's office "has no interest in a dialogue" with the heads of school districts around the state.
Illinois health officials are urging homeowners to make an emergency plan and prepare a supply kit for home during September, which is National Preparedness Month. Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck says a supply kit, a disaster plan and staying informed about the weather can help ensure communities around the state stay safe.
Kentucky State Representative Sannie Overly is calling for an independent review of the Legislature's policies regarding workplace behavior in the wake of sexual harassment complaints against Democrat John Arnold of Sturgis. Overly, chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, said yesterday she intends to file a bill next year to mandate the review and create a new personnel system that would ensure a harassment-free workplace.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission is meeting next week to discuss and vote on the state's 2014 commercial fishing proposals. The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19-20 in Nashville. The commission says final changes to the commercial fishing proclamation will be presented to the commission for any discussion and final approval at the meeting. An update on boating accident statistics will also be given by Glenn Moates, Boating and Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief.
A top adviser to Gov. Steve Beshear is reporting that General Fund receipts rose modestly in August. State Budget Director Jane Driskell says that collections were up 3.8%to more than $663 million. Driskell says the increase was due largely to a spike in revenue from the sales tax and the income tax, and robust construction activity across the state is likely responsible.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended funding for future renovations at the Capitol, a pricey project that's already caused embarrassment for financially-shaky Illinois and raised questions about how it was allowed. The Chicago Democrat told reporters yesterday that he's instructed his budget director to hold up appropriations for renovations that are yet to be done.