Category Archives: Kentucky & KY State Gov.

Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp How the Kentucky senator picked a fight with the DEA and became one of Washington’s top drug policy reformers.

Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2013 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.

The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.

The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. While the farm bill carved out an exception to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky, the 2015 bill would remove hemp entirely from the list of drugs strictly regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. It would, in essence, legalize hemp production in the United States.

“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” McConnell told me. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs. … I look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”

Yes, Mitch McConnell said that. About hemp.

To grasp how McConnell—the quintessential establishment Republican—came to champion industrial hemp, you must first understand the economics and internal politics of Kentucky, as well as McConnell’s relationship to Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul. It’s also helpful to know that close to $500 million worth of hemp products produced by Canada and other countries is already sold in the United States through such stores as Whole Foods. McConnell’s move also has potential ramifications beyond the marketplace, providing a credible threat to the Controlled Substances Act since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

“The fact that Majority Leader McConnell is a co-sponsor of a hemp bill shows how fast the politics are changing on this issue,” said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group that favors reform. (Bill Piper should not be confused with Billy Piper, former McConnell chief of staff and current K Street lobbyist).


The story of how Mitch McConnell evolved on the hemp issue began in 2010. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, was running to replace the retiring Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate and spent much of the primary season blasting McConnell, who not only represented the establishment but also supported a different Republican candidate. The McConnell-Paul relationship changed dramatically after Paul prevailed in the primary and McConnell vigorously stepped in to support him in the general election against the Democratic nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

The bond only grew when Paul came to the Senate in 2011. Paul encouraged McConnell to consider the hemp issue because it was favored by conservatives and Tea Party types, according to two sources familiar with those discussions. McConnell listened.

The other Kentucky Republican who played a role in McConnell’s evolution was Jamie Comer, the state’s newly minted agriculture commissioner. In August 2012, Comer held a news conference before the 49th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast—a big shindig on the Kentucky politics circuit—to announce that legalization of hemp in the state would be his No. 1  priority in the next legislative session. Paul and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, another Kentucky Republican, were there to support Comer; each later testified in support of Comer’s measure before the state Senate agriculture committee in February 2013, along with Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville.

“I engaged with Jamie Comer,” Yarmuth told me. “He reached out to me. From the beginning it’s been a bipartisan thing.”

In Washington, D.C., McConnell was approached multiple times from hemp supporters back home. After the fourth such approach, the senior senator from Kentucky turned to his chief of staff, Josh Holmes, and said, “We’ve got to look into this.”


If, like the average U.S. senator, you are unfamiliar with the botany of the cannabis plant, here’s a quick primer:

For starters, hemp is sometimes referred to as marijuana’s “cousin,” which is an unhelpful metaphor because hemp and marijuana are actually the same species, Cannabis sativa. They are simply different strains, and they are cultivated and harvested in different ways.

The cannabis plant is dioecious, which means its male and female flowers grow on different plants. This is unusual: Dioecious species—including gingkoes, willows and a few others—make up only 6 percent of all flowering plants.

Hemp is produced after the male plant fertilizes the females—something that happens almost immediately once the plants flower. Marijuana, on the other hand, is produced from the unfertilized flower of the female plant. A person interested in growing marijuana wants only female plants; a plant that shows signs of male flowers is plucked immediately, before it can mature and pollinate the females around it.

Pollen contamination is one of the chief concerns of marijuana growers, legal and illegal, because as soon as a female flower becomes pollinated, she stops making her THC-rich resin and begins focusing entirely on seed production. (Hemp is defined by Kentucky law as containing less than 0.3 percent THC; unfertilized marijuana flowers could have THC levels of 20 percent or more.)

For decades, the law enforcement lobby has peddled anti-hemp talking points that just didn’t add up. During the 2013 farm bill debate, the DEA asserted that, “It can be extremely difficult to distinguish cannabis grown for industrial purposes from cannabis grown for smoking. This is especially true if law enforcement is attempting to make this determination without entering the premises on which the plants are being grown.”

James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.

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Kentucky reaches settlement with Big Tobacco

Adam Beam, AP Business Writer 6:04 p.m. EDT June 12, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Tobacco companies have agreed to pay Kentucky more than $110 million to settle a 10-year legal battle over the state’s share of the tobacco master settlement agreement.

In 1998, U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $229 billion to 52 states and territories over many years to compensate them for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. The companies also agreed to advertising restrictions, including a ban on marketing to youth.

Lots of smaller tobacco companies did not participate in the settlement and were not subject to its restrictions. Kentucky agreed to charge those companies more taxes as a way to level the playing field with the bigger tobacco companies.

But in 2003, the big tobacco companies accused Kentucky of not collecting all of the taxes it was supposed to. As a result, they withheld some of Kentucky’s annual payments. State officials and tobacco companies have been fighting over those disputed payments since 2003.

In September, a federal arbitrator ruled Kentucky did not do all it could to collect the taxes. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway challenged that arbitration ruling in court. But the state was in danger of losing all of its tobacco settlement payments – tens of millions of dollars each year that paid for a range of agricultural, public health and early childhood education programs.

That’s why in November, Conway said he began secret negotiations with the tobacco companies in hopes of reaching a settlement.

"There was no end in sight," Conway said. "Given the time, value of money and the needs of this state and the agricultural community and our health community right now, I think it’s a good deal for the state."

According to the terms of the agreement — which Conway signed on Wednesday — Kentucky will get $110.4 million of the disputed payments in the 2014 fiscal year, bringing the state’s total payments to $158.7 million. Going forward, tobacco companies will pay Kentucky 45% of the disputed payments.

Kentucky is the 23rd state to settle this dispute with the tobacco companies.

"By joining 22 other states in settling, Kentucky escapes that chaotic landscape of future legal battles as well as saves itself from the financial and administrative cost of litigating these decades-old events," Beshear said.

Denise F. Keane, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria — the parent company of Philip Morris — called the settlement good for both parties.

"We have always said we are open to resolving these disputes in a manner that makes sense to the states and to us, and that remains the case," she said in a news release.


Limited CBD bill becomes law in Kentucky

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Limited CBD bill becomes law in Kentucky

Medical marijuana bills die as legislative session ends

Dear Sheree,

The Kentucky Legislature adjourned yesterday, ending its work for the year. Sadly, although the House Health and Welfare Committee approved an effective medical marijuana bill in February, it was not called for a vote in the House.

Legislators did make an effort to help some seriously ill patients who could benefit from cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana). On Thursday, April 10, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use CBD if directed to do so by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but, unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD.

Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward. For more information on this new law, please see our summary of S.B. 124.


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Matt Simon

Matt Simon
Legislative Analyst
Marijuana Policy Project


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Kentucky Bill Seeks to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying



The Kentucky legislature will consider a bill in the 2014 legislative session that would take significant steps towards protecting people there from prying eyes in the sky.

Representatives Diane St. Onge (R-Lakeside Park) and Brent Yonts (D-Greenville) have introduced House Bill 11 (HB11). If passed, the act would prohibit the use of drones by Kentucky state law enforcement and other agencies without a warrant in most cases.

The bill states that “No prohibited agency shall use a drone carrying a lethal payload” and that “no prohibited agency shall use a drone to gather evidence or other information” without a search warrant. Prohibited agencies include state law enforcement agencies, domestic or foreign corporations, foreign governmental or intergovernmental entities and any agent of any prohibited agency.

The legislation also makes any evidence gathered in violation of the law inadmissible in court.

The act does make exceptions allowing the use of drones for gathering information when the proper legal process has been followed and for training by active service members of the United States military stationed in Kentucky.

While some might find the exceptions troubling, it represents a huge improvement over the status quo. As it stands now, law enforcement can use drones in Kentucky with absolutely no restrictions. This bill stops drone use without a warrant in most cases.

The legislation does not address drone use by the federal government, but Tenth Amendment Center’s executive director Michael Boldin said that this kind of bill does have significant ramifications at the federal level because Washington is pushing and funding drone use in the states.

“The feds want to push these on the states, and if the states refuse, it’ll foil their plan,” he said. “They already spy on Americans so much that Rand Paul said it numbered in the ‘Gazillions’ after a secret meeting last fall. If the feds can get the states to start buying up and running drones over our cities, they’ll certainly want access to all that surveillance  information in the future. It’s important that states begin drawing a line in the sand now – no aerial spying here.”

In fact, the federal government serves as the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance carried out by states and local communities. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so they can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, represent an unconstitutional expansion of power.

The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’  Bills like these put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.

HB11 was prefiled April 11, 2013 and referred to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary to start the 2014 legislative session.


If you live in Kentucky

1. Contact committee members and ask them to move the Citizens’ Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act out of committee for a floor vote. You can find committee member contact information HERE.

2. Contact your own senator and ask him or her to support the Citizens’ Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act You can find legislator contact information HERE.

3.  Share this information widely.  Please pass this along to your friends and family.  Also share it with any and all grassroots groups you’re in contact with around the state.  Please encourage them to email this information to their members and supporters.


If you don’t live in Kentucky, encourage your representative and senator to introduce legislation to stop drone use. You can track efforts nationwide HERE. You can find model legislation HERE.

Kentucky has more lakes suspected of having toxic algae




LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Kentucky has seven lakes suspected of having excessive levels of toxic algae, but state officials aren’t revealing which bodies of water are being targeted for a second round of tests.

Kentucky environmental regulators are drawing water from the lakes for a second time for more rigorous laboratory analysis after initial samples showed concentrations of blue-green algae worthy of health advisories.

Kentucky Division of Water official Clark Dorman said the lakes involved in the most recent advisory aren’t run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Five Corps-run lakes were the subject of a recent advisory.

Even though the state’s initial tests suggested health risks to the public, dogs and farm animals, state officials are declining to identify those water bodies.


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short list of names you’re likely to see during the 2013 General Assembly

By John Cheves —

Keeping up with who’s who in Frankfort can be difficult. Here’s a short list of names you’re likely to see during the 2013 General Assembly:

Gov. Steve Beshear is a Democrat serving his second term. Though he’s the state’s chief executive, Beshear has limited sway during legislative sessions. However, his top priority — legalized casino gambling — could be revived again in 2013, and if so, he might involve himself. Also, lawmakers say Beshear should make a statewide push for tax reform if he expects political momentum behind an overhaul of the tax code.

Audrey Tayse Haynes is Beshear’s secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Look for Haynes to be enmeshed in several controversies, including the state’s shift to private management of Medicaid (medical providers are complaining about late and inadequate payments) and preparations for Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Her predecessor, Janie Miller, caught flak from Republican lawmakers and resigned during the 2012 session.

Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, is expected to be chosen by his colleagues as the next Senate president, replacing the departed David Williams. The leadership style of Stivers, a lawyer, remains to be seen. He’s generally more relaxed than Williams, who sometimes ruled the Senate with an iron fist. But he takes seriously his role as opposition leader and isn’t shy about challenging the Democratic administrations of Beshear and President Barack Obama.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, is presumed to be the next Senate majority leader, taking the No. 2 spot now held by Stivers. Thayer is a horse-industry consultant and — working with Beshear — advocates casino gambling at horse racetracks. Thayer also co-chaired a task force on state pension reform during 2012, so he will be a key player in whatever the legislature does on pensions.

Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, is a financial adviser at Civic Finance Advisors, raising money for cities, counties and special taxing districts. Democrats are a fast-shrinking minority in the Senate, so Palmer will have as much clout as Stivers allows him. When Williams was Senate president, Democrats seldom got their say.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is a wealthy lawyer with financial interests in coal and banking. First elected to the House in 1980 while he was still in his 20s, Stumbo is now 61 and one of Frankfort’s most senior politicians. He skillfully uses his power to control the Democratic-led House. He’s also a possible candidate for governor in 2015, setting up rivalries with other Democrats.

House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, is president of RJA Enterprises, though he refuses to say what the company does. He has financial interests in coal and banking, like Stumbo, his fellow Eastern Kentuckian. As Stumbo’s man on the House floor, Adkins helps decide the flow of legislation, giving some bills a thumbs up and others a thumbs down.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, is a lawyer and radio executive. Hoover’s Republican caucus has clawed its way up to 45 of the House’s 100 seats. But without a majority, he will continue to deliver indignant floor speeches after Democrats get their way. That said, Hoover successfully challenged the Democrats’ political redistricting map last year, getting it tossed out by a court.

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Forget the “Unbridled Spirit”….


Does Kentucky need a kick-ass makeover?

Gertie The OFFICIAL KY Marijuana Party Chicken

What comes to mind when you think about Kentucky? (Assuming you do think about Kentucky, that is.)

I’m betting fried chicken, bourbon and horse racing.

But some grassroots marketers are pushing to supplant those Bluegrass State images with this sentiment: Kentucky Kicks Ass. (That’s "kicks ass" as in "We’re really cool," as opposed to "kicks ass" as in "We’re aiming a boot at your unsuspecting rear end.")

The proposed slogan has a certain redneck swagger, unlike the considerably more demure "Kentucky — Unbridled Spirit," which has been the state’s tagline since 2005. A group of advertising guys who dub themselves Kentucky for Kentucky coined the slogan — along with ad prototypes, a video and T-shirts — declaring it "unexpected and bold … coming from a state that’s considered to be fairly conservative."

State officials have a different view.

"We certainly would not sanction or endorse that phraseology," says state tourism department spokesman Pat Sipes. "These guys are Kentucky natives and they love the state. But they have a different constituency. Which is no one."

State slogans are tricky. They’re supposed to lure tourists and new businesses, and, as the Kentucky Kicks Ass creators stress in their promotional video, foster state spirit and quash stereotypes. (Cue the mullet-coiffed shirtless guy leaning against a pickup.)

But capturing the essence of a place in a few short words is a daunting challenge.

Some state slogans are simple commands: "Explore Minnesota." Some are grandiose: "North Dakota: Legendary." Some raise questions: "North Carolina: A Better Place to Be." (Better than where?)

One of the most enduring, "Virginia Is for Lovers" has been around for 43 years. It was coined in 1969 (eight years before another stalwart, "I LOVE NY") and was the brainchild of a $100-a-week copywriter who paired two irresistible concepts — travel and romance.

But the essential question: Do these slogans work?

Not really, Cornell University marketing professor Chekitan Dev told me a few years back. Two reasons for failure: They don’t truly differentiate a place, and the destinations often can’t back up their claims.

So whether Kentucky really kicks ass, is in the eye — or some more nether region — of the beholder.

Not that it matters. The odds that Kentucky Kicks Ass will replace Kentucky — Unbridled Spirit are " zero," Stipes says.

Perhaps. But the Kentucky for Kentucky guys can dream, can’t they?

"Go ahead and Google "Unbridled Spirit," challenges Griffin VanMeter in the group’s promotional video. "You know what you come up with? Horseback riding lessons. In San Antonio."


Grimes: 51,000 absentee ballots cast so far in Ky.


More than 51,000 Kentucky voters have cast absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Absentee ballot info: Kentucky | Indiana

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday that’s on par with the count two weeks ahead of the 2008 election.

In Kentucky, voters who will be out of town or otherwise unable to get to the polls on Election Day can vote early by absentee ballots.

Besides the presidential race, Kentucky has a competitive congressional race in central Kentucky. Voters also will choose a Supreme Court justice from eastern Kentucky and state legislators across the state.

In some parts of the state, local races also are on the ballot.

Grimes, the state’s chief elections officer, hasn’t yet projected how many of Kentucky’s 3 million eligible voters will turn out on Election Day.

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Urban Defense Institute at Knob Creek 2012



Published on Oct 16, 2012 by UrbanDefenseTraining A little different than our instructional or review videos, this video is just for fun. In this video Coach Joshua takes you on a trip to the semi-annual Machine Gun Shoot in Knob Creek Kentucky. This is how the big boys do it and it was absolutely outstanding.


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We are living in uncertain times, the economy is struggling, unemployment is on the rise and people are starting to get desperate. Due to the struggling economy, police are being layed off and prisons are being closed with the tenants being released onto the streets due to a lack of room to house them. With the combination of rising costs, falling employment, decreasing police presence and rising violence in society, how are you going to keep your family safe?



Use of antipsychotic drugs up sharply among poor children in Kentucky

Beth Musgrave
Lexington Herald-Leader

FRANKFORT — The amount of powerful antipsychotic drugs distributed to poor and disabled children on Medicaid in Kentucky jumped 270 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Kentucky.

The largest growth was for minority children, who took medications to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression at three times the rate of white children in 2010.

In addition, the report found unexplained geographical differences in how minority children are treated for mental illnesses. For example, minority children in Bath County in Eastern Kentucky are taking antipsychotic medications at a rate nearly 26 times higher than minority children in Christian County in Western Kentucky. Yet the report found little difference in white children in those two counties. The study also revealed wide geographical variances in prescriptions for drugs meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Poor children in Western Kentucky received much larger quantities of ADHD drugs than their counterparts in Eastern Kentucky. For example, Henderson County children take medications to treat ADHD at a rate 11 times higher than children in Leslie County.

The study, conducted by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research, examined the top 50 drugs prescribed in the Medicaid program from 2000 to 2010 by grams, number of prescriptions and total costs.

The state-federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled has spent $6.6 billion on medications over that time period. Medicaid serves approximately 700,000 people in Kentucky. Michael Childress, who authored the study, said it does not make any conclusions about why there are such variances in prescriptions for ADHD or why so many minority children are prescribed antipsychotic medications.

"This report provides data that should cause people to ask questions and to seek out answers," Childress said. "Health providers and people in these communities need to look at this data and start asking questions about what some of this data shows." Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes called some of the report’s findings "disturbing."

"We’re taking a hard look at behavioral health in children and youth in this state," Haynes said. "Clearly, we need to have some education and training with our providers about prescribing habits. These are powerful drugs. There is a place for them in the treatment of children. But we also want to make sure that it’s not just medical therapy that they are receiving but also behavioral therapy."

Haynes said the cabinet is pulling more data from the Medicaid program in an effort to answer some of the questions prompted by the report. The cabinet has been concerned about the rise of antipsychotic medications in children for some time, Haynes said. Cabinet staff attended a conference on the topic in Washington D.C. earlier this year. And after receiving a briefing on the UK report last week, Haynes appointed a work group within the cabinet to examine disparities in prescription habits and the rise in antipsychotic medications.

"What we have seen nationally is that kids in foster care are more often prescribed these medications," Haynes said. A combination of many factors is driving the uptick in use of antispychotic medications such as Risperidone, Seroquel and Zyprexan in children, clinicians say. Dr. Paul Glaser, a pediatrician and child and adult psychiatrist and associate professor at the University of Kentucky Medical School, said the increase may show that Kentucky is finally treating child and adolescent mental illness.

"Kentucky has been way behind in the treatment of childhood mental health disorders and I think we are finally catching up to the rest of the country," Glaser said. "We are catching these diseases earlier, which means there is less damage to the brain and better long-term outcomes for the patient."

However, the vast majority of powerful antipscyhotic medications are prescribed to children by pediatricians or family care doctors, not psychiatrists, said Dr. Owen Nichols, the president and CEO of NorthKey Community Care, a northern Kentucky community mental health center.

There are too few mental health professionals in Kentucky and too few child psychiatrists, Nichols and Glaser said. "They are easily prescribed by individuals that don’t necessarily have a behavioral health background," Nichols said. "For years, our primary care doctors did not prescribe them because they were higher-risk medications.

But now the drugs are much safer, so we’re seeing a lot more doctors prescribe them." Nichols said he would like to see Medicaid refer a child to a mental health professional if the program detects that the child is being prescribed more than one medication or multiple medications for a mental illness. Many diagnosis, such as anxiety disorder, are sometimes better treated through behavioral intervention rather than medication. In fact, medication can make some mental health disorders more difficult to treat, Nichols said.

"This trend is not unique to psychiatric medications," Nichols said of the increase in antipsychotic medications. "The United States is just one of two countries that allows for medications to be advertised on television. After that change, we have seen a steady increase in all medications." Haynes said the cabinet will drill deeper into the data to determine whether children are receiving mental health treatment along with medications.

She also cautioned that portions of the study rely on the number of grams of medications prescribed per Medicaid patient. But some antipsychotic medications have more grams per dosage than others, which could skew county-by-county statistics. That’s also true with ADHD drugs, but the cabinet will further examine why those drugs are more prevalent in Western Kentucky. Glaser said it’s difficult to say why ADHD drugs would be more common in one part of the state over another part of the state. The rate of ADHD is fairly consistent across the population, he said.

Posted on Wed, Oct. 10, 2012 12:35 PM

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LG&E drops Cane Run ash dump application, plans for giant wall instead

LG&E Cane Run Generating Station. (By Michael Hayman, The Courier-Journal) March 26, 2010

LG&E Cane Run Generating Station. (By Michael Hayman, The Courier-Journal) March 26, 2010


Louisville Gas and Electric Co. has withdrawn its application for a new coal-burning-waste dump at its Cane Run generating station in western Louisville, ending a nearly three-year battle with environmentalists and power plant neighbors.

But another battle may be touched off by a proposal to erect a massive retaining wall, possibly as tall as a 13-story building, so LG&E can put more waste in its current Cane Run dump on the same property .

Chris Whelan, a company spokeswoman, said the wall would be built only as needed, but could be at most about 130 feet tall, or about 20 feet below the current top of the landfill.

“It’s made of rock in wire baskets, similar to the retaining walls you see along expressways and will be located on the east side of the landfill in a semi-circle behind the sludge processing plant,” she said. That plant is along Cane Run Road south of the plant.

She and state Division of Waste Management officials said the retaining wall won’t require any modifications of the company’s landfill permit because it’s not changing the footprint of the 30-year-old dump.

But Kathy Little, who lives on Cane Run Road near the plant and landfill, said she questions whether it will be safe and what it will look like.

And attorney Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council environmental group, said the change is big enough to require a public review process through a permit modification, and he will requesting that of state regulators.

Generally, however, environmental, neighborhood and company representatives said on Wednesday they were pleased that the proposed new landfill would be scrapped.

The 60-acre, $54 million dump at the Cane Run Road power plant would have eventually extended as high as a 14-story building in an area now largely occupied by transmission lines near the Ohio River, towering over an adjacent residential neighborhood.

Instead, the company will build its new natural gas plant where the landfill would have gone.

Company officials last year said they were likely to abandon their plans for the landfill when they announced they were planning to close their nearly 60-year-old Cane Run plant and replace it a cleaner-burning natural gas plant, which produces no ash or scrubber wastes.


Judge shuts down Christian health ministry in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Christians-only health care ministry must cease operations in Kentucky unless it can get regulatory approval from the state Department of Insurance, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling by Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate means Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry, can no longer accept money or help pay medical bills for churchgoers in Kentucky.

The health care ministry closely resembles secular insurance, but only allows participation by people who pledge to live Christian lives that include no smoking, drinking, using drugs or engaging in sex outside of marriage.

Medi-Share had continued to operate in Kentucky a year after the state Supreme Court ruled that it is subject to the same regulations as secular health care plans. Medi-Share contends that its participants aren’t buying insurance, but are involved in a charitable endeavor to help cover medical bills of fellow Christians and potentially have their own expenses covered should the need arise.

Wingate ordered Medi-Share, which is operated by Christian Care Ministry of Melbourne, Fla., "to cease all operations in Kentucky unless and until it receives a certificate of authority or other applicable license from the Department of Insurance."

"Until that time, Medi-Share’s website must clearly state that it does not operate in Kentucky," Wingate said in the 14-page ruling. "If the commissioner of the Department of Insurance discovers proof that Medi-Share continues to operate, the commissioner is directed to move this court for an order requiring the secretary of state to place Christian Care Ministry in bad standing."

The legal battle between Medi-Share and Kentucky revolves around how tightly the state can regulate the Christian health care ministry that serves nearly 40,000 people in 49 states, including 800 in Kentucky. Medi-Share President Tony Meggs testified in August that the group has helped arrange for Christians across the country to pay some $25 million in medical bills for Kentucky participants over the past 10 years.

Meggs said the ministry has revamped its plan in an effort to alleviate Kentucky’s regulatory concerns by no longer collecting contributions from participants into a central account. Instead, Meggs said, participants make contributions into their own accounts at American Christian Credit Union. When Christians need money to pay medical bills, he said, money is transferred directly between member accounts, bypassing a central fund pool that was in existence at the time of the Supreme Court ruling.

The case has put the Department of Insurance in the unenviable position of having to fight against a Christian cost-sharing ministry in a Bible belt state. But the agency’s concern has been that some Christians might mistakenly believe they’re paying into an insurance plan that guarantees coverage if they’re hospitalized. Medi-Share offers no such guarantee.

"As a state agency, we are charged with enforcing the law and protecting consumers," said Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ronda Sloan. "This case has continued for 10 years but it always has been about those basic principles."


Whitley County restaurant shut down after road kill found in kitchen

Brittany Pelletz
Fri, 28 Sep 2012 19:42 CDT




Williamsburg, Kentucky – A Chinese restaurant forced to shut its doors after getting caught with a dead deer in the kitchen.
It happened Thursday afternoon at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg.

“We were actually joking about the, you know, the whole Chinese restaurant. You know some rumors that you hear,” says Katie Hopkins, a customer of the Red Flower restaurant.
But, Hopkins and her friends never imaged what would happen next, after finishing up a buffet lunch.

“Two of the workers came in wheeling a garbage can and they had a box sitting on top of it. And hanging out of the garbage can, they were trying to be real quick with it. So that nobody could see it. But there was like a tail, and a foot and leg. Sticking out of the garbage can and they wheeled it straight back into the kitchen,” adds Hopkins.
Hopkins immediately called the health department to describe what she saw, “Many people eat there. A lot of locals eat there on lunch breaks and stuff. It was very disturbing. There was actually a blood trail that they were mopping up behind the garbage can.”

Paul Lawson, the environmental health inspector in Whitley County says this is the craziest thing he’s ever seen.
After he arrived at the Chinese restaurant on south highway 25 West, he says the complaints proved to be true after finding roadkill in the restaurants kitchen.
Lawson tells us that the owner’s son admitted to picking up a dead deer off the side of I-75 north in Williamsburg.
This prompted the health department to immediately shut down business.

“They said they didn’t know that they weren’t allowed to. So that makes me concerned. But maybe thy could have before. They didn’t admit to doing it before,” says Lawson.
Lawson tells us that the restaurant can reopen if they pass a secondary health inspection, proving that they have washed, rinsed, and sanitized the restaurant after having roadkill inside.
The restaurant owner tells the health department that he wasn’t going to serve the road kill to customers, but instead to his family.
The Red Flower Chinese Restaurant will not face any fines.

We contacted the owner of the restaurant, but due to a language barrier we were not able to confirm if the family had plans to reopen the business.
Some customers like Katie Hopkins say, even if they reopen, they won’t be going back, “I don’t think I’ll ever eat Chinese food ever again.”


Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse

Office of the Attorney General
Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse

Press Release Date:
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Contact Information:
Kerri Richardson

Just days after a landmark prescription drug abuse law took effect, Governor Steve Beshear joined lawmakers and medical providers to report the law has already effected changes in the medical field and positioned Kentucky as a national leader in battling prescription abuse.

House Bill 1 (HB1), sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, passed in a special legislative session this spring. The bill included multiple elements to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs and to enhance law enforcement’s tools to investigate illegal prescribing practices.

“The enforcement of this bill began just a couple of days ago, and yet we already know that four ‘pain management clinics’ in Kentucky have waved the white flag and notified us they will shut their doors,” said Gov. Beshear. “We know that more than 9,000 medical providers have signed up for electronic prescription monitoring just since this law passed in April – more than doubling the number registered. The word is out. Kentucky is deadly serious about stopping this scourge of prescription drug abuse, and now we have some of the strongest tools in the country to make that happen.”

Gov. Beshear was joined by Attorney General Jack Conway as well as representatives from medical licensure boards, advocacy groups and law enforcement organizations, for today’s announcement.

HB1 expands the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system, the state’s prescription monitoring system, by requiring all prescription providers of controlled substances to register. It requires pain management clinics to be owned by a licensed medical practitioner, and requires professional licensure boards to investigate prescribing complaints immediately. The legislation allows for better coordination between health regulators and law enforcement to address problems of abuse. Finally, elements of HB1 will help prevent Kentucky from becoming a source state for prescription pills.

According to Kentucky’s Drug Control Policy Office, nearly 1,000 Kentuckians die every year from drug overdoses – an annual fatality rate that exceeds deaths from car accidents. More than 5,000 overdose patients are admitted to hospitals annually.

“Let’s be very clear – if you need a prescription for a controlled substance for a legitimate medical condition, you have nothing to fear. You’ll get your medicine. For doctors who worry their ability to prescribe will be compromised, you have nothing to fear. The law is built to protect valid prescribing,” said Gov. Beshear. “But if you’re doctor-shopping, buying extra pills for recreational use, or prescribing pills for cash, you’d better change your vocation or change your location, because we’re coming after you.”

“Prescription drug abuse is killing Kentuckians. Three people will die today from prescription drug overdoses. I believe the provisions in House Bill 1 will save the lives of our friends, our neighbors and our family members,” said Attorney General Jack Conway. “The provisions in this law will help shut down rogue clinics and providers who are poisoning people. I appreciate those in the medical community who have joined with us as responsible providers to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”

“House Bill 1 and the emergency regulations will help stop tragic loss of life to drug abuse. We are working closely with medical professionals to ensure that legitimate pain management cases are not adversely affected,” said Speaker Stumbo. “The joint Implementation and Oversight Committee will be alert to any needed corrections, and we will make sure that all concerns are addressed.”

Lawmakers praised the cooperation of the Cabinets, agencies, and boards who worked together to create new regulations, educate patients and medical providers, and build the necessary computer infrastructure to support the implementation of the law.

HB1 Impact – KASPER enhancements

Effective July 20, all medical practitioners who prescribe controlled substances must register to use KASPER and run a KASPER report before prescribing a patient a controlled substance such as Oxycontin or Xanax.

When the law passed in April, KASPER had 7,911 registered accounts. Since then, another 9,137 providers have signed up for the program, a 115 percent increase.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), which oversees KASPER, 90 percent of all KASPER reports are completed within 15 to 30 seconds. The reports show medical providers what other controlled substances have been prescribed to a patient and in what amount.

“Some providers worried that running a KASPER report would be cumbersome or time consuming, but 9 times out of 10, it will take as much time as measuring a patient’s blood pressure or recording their insurance information,” said Mary Begley, CHFS Inspector General. “It’s a very short investment of time that will become as routine as taking a patient’s temperature. A report can provide crucial information that not only may flag a problem user, but may also warn a provider of otherwise unforeseen complications from drug interactions.”

KASPER’s cache of prescription information will grow more robust as more users add records. Supporters say patient care will become more precise as medical providers review patient prescription history and know more about existing prescriptions.

A 2010 CHFS poll of KASPER users noted that 94 percent of medical providers said that the program is an effective tool in tracking an individual’s prescription history, and nearly 94 percent reported satisfaction with the tool. Nearly 9 in 10 KASPER users reported denying a prescription for a controlled substance to a patient based on information provided by a KASPER report.

To accommodate the steep increase in KASPER use, CHFS has hired additional staff, implemented system upgrades and expanded capacity.

Existing regulations provide that all dispensers (usually pharmacists) report to KASPER when any Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances are dispensed. For the first time, new regulations provide that all prescribers must request a KASPER report before Schedule II, III and some IVs are prescribed. A list of certain Schedule IV controlled substances, which are known to be used or diverted, is attached.

HB1 Impact: Shared Investigative Information

HB1 requires that when a complaint about prescription abuse is lodged with any of several investigative agencies – the Attorney General, Kentucky State Police (KSP), CHFS, or any of the professional licensure boards – that complaint must be shared with the remaining agencies.

Previously, if KSP was investigating a possible pill mill, the agencies that licensed that clinic were not required to be notified, nor would they be compelled to contribute information to the case.

The Attorney General, KSP, CHFS and the six professional licensure boards have signed a memorandum of understanding to notify the other agencies of prescription complaints within three days of receipt. This will allow the investigators to share information quickly.

The six professional boards – Medical Licensure, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Podiatry and Optometry – are required to share reports with the Attorney General, KSP and CHFS but not required to share among each other. This alleviates concerns that the professional organizations would be forced to report information to other boards that have no jurisdiction over the complaint.

HB1 Impact: Regulations Squeeze Offenders, Offer Grace Period for Providers

Regulations for the implementation of HB1 were filed on July 20, the effective date of HB1. These regulations, which interpret how the law is carried out by each agency, board, or office, uphold the intent of HB1 – to reduce the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.

New regulations mandate that all pain management clinics must be owned by a licensed medical provider or employ a medical director in good standing with one of the professional licensure boards. Clinics will have some time to meet those requirements, but CHFS administrators say that already, four of the state’s pain clinics not owned by physicians have reported that they will close their doors. Another 9 have not yet contacted CHFS regarding licensing, and will be investigated to determine if they are operating illegally.

“Not all pain management clinics are abusing their prescribing authority – many of them are meeting legitimate patient needs,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “However, these regulations are designed to make it very, very difficult to stay in business if your clinic is a pill mill, prescribing high volumes of powerful drugs to people who are addicted.”

Each of the professional license boards has also created an educational period for practitioners through October 1st. Much like other laws such as the seat belt law, providers will have a few months to get accustomed to the new practices before any disciplinary action will take place.

“We don’t want the medical community to be afraid of immediate repercussions if they make an error this early in the process,” said Preston Nunnelley, chair of the Board of Medical Licensure. “We’ll have a few months to learn how the new policies will work, and we’ll be able to correct and guide providers along the way, instead of punishing people for unintentional errors.”

Statement from Attorney General Jack Conway on HB 4

Office of the Attorney General
Statement from Attorney General Jack Conway on HB 4

Press Release Date:
Friday, April 13, 2012

Revision Date:
Friday, April 13, 2012

(Revised to correct date of the special session.) 

Contact Information:
Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

"It is certainly disappointing that lawmakers were unable to pass comprehensive legislation during the regular session of the General Assembly to fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. It is my understanding that Gov. Beshear will place HB 4 on the call for a special session of the General Assembly to begin on Monday, April 16.

As lawmakers renew their discussion of this important legislation, I am hopeful they will not use the Free Conference Report version of HB 4 as a starting point, but rather the original legislation proposed by Speaker Stumbo, which I supported.

To aggressively fight this epidemic, several things must be accomplished. Prescribers of Schedule II and III opiates, with reasonable exemptions for many in the medical community, must be required to use KASPER. Law enforcement must have greater access to KASPER data, so that we can identify disturbing prescribing trends. We need greater regulation of pain clinics to put an end to entrepreneurs using prescriptions to line their pockets with cash and to ensure that pain clinics are not dispensing drugs in a way intended for pharmacists.

In its current form, HB 4 does not accomplish the goals we have outlined. Lobbyists for the medical community have watered down this bill to the point that it would place even greater restrictions on law enforcement access to KASPER data, making it more difficult to do the job we are seeking to do. Lobbyists also persuaded the Senate to remove another critical portion of HB 4 that would require doctors to register and use KASPER. Currently, only about 25 percent of prescribers in Kentucky use this important law enforcement tool.

For the many families devastated by this scourge, I hope that the General Assembly, and the Senate in particular, will act in good faith to represent the larger public interest and not let special interests write the prescription drug legislation.

In the Office of the Attorney General, we pledge to act in good faith to ensure that legislation passed by the General Assembly works fairly and effectively."

Kentucky Medical Practitioners Survey

Kentucky Medical Practitioners Survey

Reschedule Cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II

Please print your name if you believe cannabis/marijuana doesn’t meet the “no accepted medical value” requirement of a Schedule I drug

Print Name

License type



Hemp Freedom Act


Hemp Freedom Act


The following is model legislation approved by the Tenth Amendment Center. Activists, we encourage you to send this to your state senators and representatives – and ask them to introduce this legislation in your state.


To authorize the production of industrial hemp; to amend (SUBSECTION AND CODE) of the KENTUCKY Code, relating to the definition of noxious weed seeds; and to nullify certain acts of the Federal Government of the United States purporting to be laws and regulations resulting in the prohibition of industrial hemp farming in the state of KENTUCKY



This Act shall be known and may be cited as the “Hemp Freedom Act.”

SECTION 2. Findings

A new section of law to be codified in the [STATE] Statutes as Section [NUMBER] of Title [NUMBER], unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:


Section (#) (A) The General Assembly finds that :

(1) The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States codifies in law that the only powers which the Federal Government may exercise are those that have been delegated to it in the Constitution of the United States;

(2) The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees to the people rights not enumerated in the Constitution and reserves to the people of (STATE) those rights;

(3) The power to regulate interstate commerce was delegated to the federal government in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution. As understood at the time of the founding, the regulation of commerce was meant to empower Congress to regulate the buying and selling of products made by others (and sometimes land), associated finance and financial instruments, and navigation and other carriage, across state jurisdictional lines. This interstate regulation of “commerce” did not include agriculture, manufacturing, mining, malum in se crime, or land use. Nor did it include activities that merely “substantially affected” commerce;

(4) The advocates of the Constitution, at the time of its ratification, assured the People of the Several States that the regulation of agriculture would be reserved to the States. This included Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in Federalist #17: “the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature, all those things, in short, which are proper to be provided for by local legislation can never be desirable cases of a general jurisdiction.” This was reinforced by many others, including Justice Sargeant of Massachusetts, who let it be known that only the states would have the power to regulate “common fields” and “fisheries”;

(5) The Constitutional Convention of 1787 considered a proposal to create, in the Constitution, a Secretary of Domestic Affairs, who was to have authority to regulate agriculture. That proposal was rejected;

(6) The assumption of power that the Federal Government through its Drug Enforcement Administration has made by prohibiting industrial hemp farming exceeds its Constitutional authority and interferes with the right of the People of the State of KENTUCKY to regulate agriculture as they see fit, and makes a mockery of James Madison’s assurance in Federalist #45 that the “powers delegated” to the Federal Government are “few and defined”, while those of the States are “numerous and indefinite.”

(7) Federal agents have flouted the United States Constitution and foresworn their oath to support this Constitution by prohibiting industrial farming of hemp by the People of the State of (STATE), and these actions violate the limits of authority placed upon the federal agents by the United States Constitution and are dangerous to the liberties of the people;

SECTION 3. Authorization to Plant, Grow, Harvest, Possess, Process, Sell, and Buy

A. Industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.), having no more than three-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol, is recognized as an oilseed. Upon meeting this requirement, any person in this state may plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, and buy industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.) having no more than three-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol.

SECTION 4. Nullification of Federal Prohibitions

A. The Legislature of the State of KENTUCKY declares that the federal prohibitions on industrial hemp farming are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violates its true meaning and intent as given by the Founders and Ratifiers, and are hereby declared to be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.

B. It shall be the duty of the legislature of this State to adopt and enact any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of federal prohibitions on industrial hemp farming within the limits of this State.

C. Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government or any employee of a corporation providing services to the United States government that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this act shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two (2) years, or both.

D. Any public officer or employee of the State of KENTUCKY that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six (6) months or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or both such fine and imprisonment.


This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.




Committee Assignment

Whitfield, Ed
2368 RHOB
Energy and Commerce

Guthrie, S. Brett
308 CHOB
Energy and Commerce

Yarmuth, John A.
435 CHOB
Oversight and Government Reform

Davis, Geoff
1119 LHOB
Ways and Means

Rogers, Harold
2406 RHOB
Appropriations, Chairman

Chandler, Ben
1504 LHOB
Foreign Affairs
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence



‘Kentucky Cares’ campaign surpasses $400,000

‘Kentucky Cares’ campaign surpasses $400,000

Today’s Kentucky Cares Telethon in partnership with the American Red Cross, WKYT, Clear Channel Radio, the Lexington-Herald Leader, and UK IMG Sports Marketing raised $404,682.
Money raised as part of the Kentucky Cares campaign will support Red Cross relief efforts in Eastern Kentucky.  "Financial support is critical as we begin transition our operation from

immediate emergency relief to more long-term recovery," said Terry Burkhart, CEO of the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Over the next several days Red Cross case workers will meet one-on-one with families to explain the recovery process, help with emergency medical needs and assist those who

need help registering for other relief programs such as aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The Red Cross will also be providing direct financial assistance to

people with verified, disaster-caused needs.
"This is a tremendous outpouring of support and we are excited to be able to help those Kentuckians who have been so greatly affected by this disaster, " Burkhart said.


Cambrian Coal Lawsuit: Kentucky Mining Company Settles Over Deadly 2010 Flood




LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky mining company settled a lawsuit Friday that blamed mountaintop mining for stoking a 2010 flood that ravaged a tiny Appalachian community.

The lawsuit filed in August 2010 in Pike County said rainwater runoff from Cambrian Coal Corp.’s surface mine during a July 17, 2010, storm turned nearby Harless Creek into a "raging river." The flooding engulfed homes and carried away cars and other property.

Ned Pillersdorf, a Prestonsburg attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the terms of the settlement reached Friday with Cambrian Coal are confidential. A trial had been scheduled for Monday.

No one answered the phone Friday at Cambrian’s office in Belcher, Ky.

Residents argued that the surface mining activity on the mountaintop, which stripped away trees, topsoil and vegetation, caused "excessive water flow that resulted in damages upon all of the plaintiffs’ property," the lawsuit said.

A hydrological analysis by a Virginia consulting firm said mining in the area increased the peak stormwater runoff by 44 percent during the rains. The study said the company’s mining and failure to restore the area directly caused the increased flow of water down the valley and into Harless Creek.

Video posted on YouTube by a resident during the storms showed cars and a shed being carried away by the creek, which had swelled into a swift-moving muddy river.

"It rained some but not that long and it didn’t rain that hard," said Harold Thacker, a lifelong resident of the area who filmed the flooding. "That water came up like a tidal wave."

The 2010 storm caused flooding throughout Pike County, killing two people and knocking out water service to thousands of residents. Federal officials declared a major disaster in the area.

Pillersdorf said Cambrian’s mining permit had expired the year before and state officials had not enforced reclamation laws that require mining companies to return the land to its original shape, plant trees and restore vegetation. Flyover video recorded by Pillersdorf showed a brown, treeless landscape directly above the Harless Creek area after the flood.

Pillersdorf said he has three other pending eastern Kentucky cases that are similar to the Pike County suit, in which surface mining is blamed for causing or intensifying flooding.

"I do not think it’s a coincidence that the worst damage occurs in areas directly below unreclaimed strip mines," he said.

The Harless Creek suit also originally named a second mining, company, AEP Kentucky Coal, but residents settled with AEP in October, Pillersdorf said. The residents had sued both companies for damage compensation, punitive fines and the replacement of water supplies.


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Nearly 11,500 Kentuckians with Alzheimer’s live Alone

KENTUCKY (3/8/12) – Advance planning for future legal, financial and long-term care needs is critical for the estimated one in seven Americans − or 11,430 Kentuckians − diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and who still live alone, up to half of them without an identifiable caregiver, according to the Alzheimer’s Association® 2012 Facts and Figures Report, released today.
“Alzheimer’s and other dementias take our loved ones through unfamiliar territory, and advance planning in the early stages of the disease allow them to build a care team, make financial plans and prepare for future safety concerns, while they are still cognitively able to do so,” said Teri Shirk, president and CEO of the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which offers a variety of resources for individuals with Alzheimer’s as well as their family members and other caregivers.
States need to plan ahead as well: Today’s report projects a 500 percent increase in combined state Medicare and Medicaid spending by 2050 due to the expanding population of Alzheimer’s patients. According to the report, which found that someone in America develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds, as many as 6.7 million Americans will be living with the disease by 2025, including 97,000 Kentucky residents (a 31 percent increase over 2000, when 74,000 Kentuckians had Alzheimer’s). Nearly 30 percent of those with Alzheimer’s are on Medicare and Medicaid, compared to just 11 percent of those without dementia.
“Caring for people with Alzheimer’s will cost the United States an estimated $200 billion in 2012, an amount that already threatens to overwhelm federal and state budgets,” Shirk said. “Absent intervention, those costs will grow to $1.1 trillion by mid-century. Then there are the out-of-pocket costs to family caregivers, which are projected to balloon 400 percent by 2050. We simply must have a National Alzheimer’s Plan in place that establishes the resources we need to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s, and to ensure much-needed support for those with Alzheimer’s and their families.” A draft National Alzheimer’s Plan was announced February 22, and comments currently are being sought.
Other Kentucky-related statistics included in today’s report:
• The new report reveals there are 15.2 million friends and family members providing care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including 264,658 caregivers in Kentucky. In 2011, these caregivers provided $210 billion worth of unpaid care nationally; and $3.65 billion in Kentucky (in fact, Kentucky was one of 39 states in which unpaid caregivers provided care valued at more than $1 billion).
• The physical and emotional impact on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers is estimated to result in nearly $9 billion in increased health care costs in the United States, including $144.6 million for caregivers in Kentucky.
• About 51,000 residents of Kentucky nursing homes in 2009 had cognitive impairments.
Other national statistics in the Alzheimer’s Association® 2012 Facts and Figures report:
• According to the Alzheimer’s Association report, there are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 5.2 million people age 65 or older and 200,000 people under the age of 65. And 45 percent of adults 85 and older have Alzheimer’s.
• Medicare payments for an older person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are nearly three times higher, while Medicaid payments are 19 times higher than for seniors without Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
• While only 4 percent of the general population will be admitted to a nursing home by age 80, for people with Alzheimer’s, 75 percent will be admitted to a nursing home by age 80, posing significant economic challenges to state Medicaid budgets.
• Most people survive an average of four to eight years after an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, but some can live as long as 20 years with the disease.
• Of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, 61 percent rated their emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.
Alzheimer’s Association’s Facts and Figures
The Alzheimer’s Association’s Facts and Figures report is a comprehensive compilation of national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The report conveys the impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families, government, and the nation’s healthcare system. Since its 2007 inaugural release, the report has become the most cited source covering the broad spectrum of Alzheimer’s issues. The Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report is an official publication of the Alzheimer’s Association®.
SurfKY News
Information provided by Danielle Waller


Hemp could make a comeback

By Kevin Wheatley

about 23 hours ago

Industrial hemp could make a comeback as one of Kentucky’s top cash crops if lawmakers legalize the harvest of marijuana’s botanical cousin, legislators have told a House committee.

The Agricultural and Small Business Committee on Wednesday heard from key sponsors of two pieces of legislation –House bills 272 and 286 – that would make hemp a legal crop if the federal government lifts restrictions on it.

The bills didn’t come to a vote, but Rep. Tom McKee, a Cynthiana Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said the discussion would continue so both sides of the argument could be heard.

Sponsors spoke for about 30 minutes, highlighting primarily the many legal products produced by industrial hemp, such as textiles, paper, auto plastics, rope, construction material, cosmetics and feed for cattle.

The trickle-down effect would create 17,000 jobs and result in an economic impact between $400 million and $500 million, said Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, quoting a University of Kentucky survey from years ago.

“We’re sitting on the cutting edge and, to me, on a gold mine here of what we can do in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to create jobs and to give our agriculture people another opportunity to grow something,” he said.

Eighty-five percent of industrial hemp produced in Canada is shipped to the U.S., and China sends a large amount here as well, Pendleton added.

He also noted that Kentucky has an ideal climate and was a top hemp producer prior to and during World War II until the federal government banned it amid political pressure from nylon and paper manufacturers in the 1950s.

While there’s concern that hemp would be confused with marijuana, Pendleton said the two plants can be distinguished easily and cross-pollination between the two plants decreases tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana.

However, Ed Shemelya, regional marijuana coordinator in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, disagreed and said police continue to oppose legalization of hemp because there’s no way to visually distinguish it from marijuana.

“It’s an enforcement nightmare,” Shemelya said after the meeting.

Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, said hemp oil could be explored as an alternative fuel source. He noted that Henry Ford built his first automobile using hemp products and ran it on hemp diesel fuel.

Bio-diesel fuel produced from hemp emits no sulfur when it’s used, making it the only fuel that passes the Environment Protection Agency’s Clear Air Act, Hall said.

Hemp plants could also be used on mine reclamation sites as they soak up contaminants, he said.

Legislators have been hesitant to consider legalizing hemp with its link to marijuana, but Hall said the potential economic impact has thawed some, but not all, concerns.

“I would say today that the issue is fear,” Hall told the panel.

Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, said 66 percent of his constituents support legalizing industrial hemp.

“… The ag economy is the best its been in 40 years, and we’re seeing that in grain and cattle prices, but we always need diversity in agriculture,” Mills said.

“If this can be developed as a viable crop in agriculture, it can only help the agriculture community and, again, those people who live out in rural Kentucky.”

It’s unclear how much support the bills have on the House committee, but two members –Rep. Fred Nesler, D-Mayfield, and Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow –commended sponsors for speaking about the issue.

“I look forward to future discussion,” Nesler said. “I hope we don’t just drag this issue like sometimes we do. This is an issue that almost seems too sensible.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Pending industrial hemp legislation could go to pot

By Brad Bowman

Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Two bills in state legislation for the legalization of industrial hemp could offer a transition crop for farmers in Nelson County.  Central Kentucky was the largest producer of hemp during World War II for rope production, but state officials say it isn’t legislation but law enforcement that will decide hemp’s future in the state or Nelson County.

Hemp has been looked at as alternative energy source in the past, according to Nelson County Extension Agent, Ron Bowman.

“If it was feasible at all, we would have to be closer to the actual power plants,” Bowman said. “It all depends on the price of the product, what would it cost to ship it and whether our farmers can actually make money from it.”

Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. Given its low THC content, it would not be attractive as a recreational drug like marijuana, but the stigma has helped stop its legalization.

Hemp studies have been initiated in the past, but the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration denied permits to the Dean of University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture Scott Smith.

“There are advocates on both sides of the issue,” Smith said. “The ultimate question is whether hemp is an economic solution for farmers.”

There isn’t sufficient research on industrial hemp to discern whether it is economically viable for farmers, according to Smith. Research exists in Canada and Europe for production, but not the market research needed in the U.S., according to Smith. When the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University were encouraged to research hemp production, Smith was denied by the DEA.

“We have studies on switch back grass and miscanthus grass which could be just as productive as hemp for an energy source, but we just don’t know enough about it,” Smith said.

Hemp could be the transition crop for local Nelson County tobacco farmers if research could support the crop as an economical and marketable product.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions out there about whether it is right for our farmers. If it can be used in all the different ways people claim that it can, farmers are interested,” State Sen. Jimmy Higdon said. “We need the universities to research it and show that it can work, but we need law enforcement on board to make this happen.”

The bills would require farmers to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture and pass a criminal history check by local sheriffs. Sheriffs would do random test inspections of hemp fields at a fee of $5 per acre with a minimum $150 fee. The money would be divided between the sheriff and agriculture departments.

The transition crop couldn’t come soon enough for farming families looking for an alternative to tobacco, according to State Rep., David Floyd.

“It’s a fact that we need to move tobacco farmers toward another crop,” Floyd said. “A lot has been taken away from tobacco farmers. Years ago, tobacco fields put their children through school. “

Industrial hemp is considered a controlled substance by the DEA. Bound by international treaty laws, the DEA can only legally grant one entity the permit to research cannabis in any form, according to DEA Public Relations Officer Barbara Carreno in Washington D.C. The University of Mississippi currently possesses the permit.

“Our main concern is security. We have security requirements that must be met in regards to researching controlled substances,” Carreno said. “The university is required by law to regularly publish reports for compliance with security and research.”

The permit is just one part of the process for legal research by any entity. The National Institute on Drug Abuse oversees the approval process, which requires the reports from an approved research group. The DEA doesn’t approve or disapprove research, Carreno said.

States that have legalized medicinal marijuana are operating in violation of federal law. North Dakota has sued the DEA for the right to grow industrial hemp, Carreno said. The lack of legal research confuses the issue of industrial hemp and street marijuana sought after by drug users.

“Hemp is long and spindle-like,” Smith said. “There is an argument that cross pollination would render an illegal plant grown in the same field with less than desirable levels of THC, but we don’t have the research to support that.”

The profitability of industrial hemp and the legal hurdles to produce the crop isn’t lost on Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer.

“The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t grow industrial hemp. North Dakota is suing the DEA because they can see the money being made in Canada,” Comer said. “We will continue to educate people statewide to address the misinformation and the potential it has for our agricultural economy.”

It is a cheaper crop for farmers to put out than crops such as corn grown for ethanol and it is greener. Industrial hemp doesn’t require fertilizer, Comer said.

The crop could produce a significant contribution to the agriculture economy. It wouldn’t be just an opportunity for farmers but the state, according to Comer.

“This could create manufacturing jobs. We have companies that would come here for manufacturing greener products to replace plastic for the automotive industry such as car dashes,” Comer said.

The commissioner maintains an optimistic stance on the legality issues surrounding industrial hemp and its classification. U.S. Representative for Texas’s 14th congressional district, Ron Paul’s introduction of H.R. 1831 would take industrial hemp out of the jurisdiction of the DEA by declassifying it as a controlled substance, according to Comer.

“This is truly a bipartisan issue,” Comer said. “Everyone from the far right to the far left is on board to make this happen. We have to look ahead and we have everything we need without asking for money or raising taxes.”

BRAD BOWMAN can be reached at