Governor Steve Beshear

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Supporters of a statewide smoking ban brought high-profile help from the world of sports while rallying Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda  for their cause.

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Gov. Steve Beshear says disagreement among gambling advocates has made it unlikely that the Legislature can pass a constitutional amendment on casinos this year. Beshear says Kentucky's horse racing industry is divided on how to proceed, which has weakened the chances of passing an amendment.

Despite a long history of wagering on horses, Kentucky has a constitutional ban on casino-style gambling. And many lawmakers have been reluctant to vote to change that, knowing they may face disapproving constituents in future elections.

Antoine Taveneaux, Wikimedia Commons

The clock is ticking on the current legislative session, but efforts to push expanded gambling in the 2013  are still on-going, Gov. Steve Beshear said.

“I think it’s too early to reach a conclusion yet on whether we will have a bill on expanded gaming, you know we’ve got some issues to be resolved," he said.

Beshear is facing a recurring problems since he took office in 2007 and began lobbying for expanded gambling. The  state senate won’t pass any gambling amendment that gives a monopoly to horse racing tracks, but some tracks don’t want gambling if they aren’t promised protections.

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Proponents of a local option sales tax have gained big ally in their legislative fight: Gov. Steve Beshear. The local option sales tax would allow cities to levy an additional tax on top of the state’s current six percent sales tax for specific projects, if local voters approved the new tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are the chief advocates pushing the idea, arguing their cities would use the extra revenue for infrastructure projects.

Kentucky legislative leaders say they haven't responded yet to Gov. Steve Beshear’s request to delay General Assembly redistricting in the 2013 session.

Senate President Robert Stivers says his leadership team has not yet decided on a response and that many in his chamber are conflicted on when to address redistricting.

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After years of pushing to legalize casino-style gambling in Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear sounds less than optimistic just days before the start of the next legislative session. Beshear has been hopeful that the retirement of Senate President David Williams, the Republican who was seen as the main roadblock to legalizing casinos, would improve the chances to legalize gambling. Williams resigned late last year when Beshear appointed him as a circuit judge in southern Kentucky.  However, his departure doesn't appear to have significantly improved the odds of passing a gambling amendment in the Bible Belt state. 

Despite progress toward building a state-run health insurance exchange in Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear will likely have to re-issue an executive order to keep it alive. Beshear issued an order creating the exchange earlier this year, after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. And it’s a goal of state health officials to get the exchange protected under a law, rather than an executive order. Republican State Senator Tom Buford says his colleagues aren’t likely to support an exchange law.

A newly created data center will link education and workforce data in Kentucky to try to improve training for students at all levels. Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order earlier this month creating the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics. He says data from individual agencies only gives one part of the picture and that policymakers, parents, students and educators will all benefit from the combined information.

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is urging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to sponsor and pass legislation that would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the Missouri River to raise levels on the Mississippi.  Drought conditions there could soon halt barge traffic. Beshear sent a letter to McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday asking them to take action quickly. If the Mississippi continues to drop there could be negative economic consequences.

Activists with the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty have sent Governor Steve Beshear more than 1,500 postcards asking him to sign no more death warrants and get rid of the punishment. Each card calls the death penalty “a risky, arbitrary, unfair, ineffective and costly distraction from justice.”

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