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FRANKFORT — Kentucky lawmakers are expected to end the 2011 legislative session on Wednesday without patching a hole in the state's Medicaid budget.

Budget negotiations between House and Senate leaders fell apart Tuesday evening, raising the specter of deep cuts in the health care program for the poor and disabled unless a special legislative session is called quickly.

Without legislative action, Beshear has said he will be forced to cut Medicaid payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care providers by 30 percent. That move could shut down some rural hospitals, he said.

After negotiations reached an impasse, the Democratic-led House adjourned until March 21 to give Gov. Steve Beshear time to veto legislation he opposes. House leaders pledged to continue negotiating with Republican Senate leaders during the veto recess.

However, Senate leaders said the full Senate will convene again at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The move would end the legislative session Wednesday, because state law limits the General Assembly's odd-year sessions to 30 work days. Tuesday was the 29th day of the session.

Senate President David Williams and Majority Leader Robert Stivers still held out hope Tuesday night a resolution on the Medicaid budget could be reached on Wednesday, but only if Gov. Steve Beshear promises not to veto any part of a compromise budget bill.

Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said late Tuesday it's too early to know whether Beshear might be willing to set aside his veto power.

House leaders said late Tuesday they had not been asked by the Senate to return to the negotiating table and they have no intention of recalling the full House to Frankfort on Wednesday.
If a compromise can't be reached Wednesday, the governor could call a special session once an agreement is reached, said Williams, R-Burkesville. The special session could last as few as five days, which would save taxpayers money because lawmakers were scheduled to be paid every day, including weekends, until the session's end on March 21, he added.

The lawmaking session costs taxpayers about $68,000 a day.
Beshear said after the impasse Tuesday he wanted the legislature to continue its work until the last day of the legislative session. 

Only a governor can call a special session.

Senate Republicans stand alone in wanting to cut education spending to make up the Medicaid budget shortfall, Beshear said.

"It's very clear that 114 out of the 138 members of the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, agree with me as governor that there is a very simple way to solve this shortfall in the Medicaid budget and that is to solve it with Medicaid money," Beshear said. "I am hopeful that between now and March 21 ... some folks in the Senate will come to their senses and decide that they will work with us to resolve this matter because the alternatives are not pretty."

Williams, who wants Beshear's job, said the House rejected the last offer of the Senate, which included some across-the-board cuts, including cuts to education, that would total $93 million.
"We came more than half way," Williams said, referring to a possible $166 million hole in the Medicaid budget in the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said House Republicans and Democrats don't want to cut education unless it's absolutely necessary. In a rare move, House Republicans said last week they would not support the Senate's plan to cut education to fix problems in the Medicaid budget.

"The House will do anything to move this process forward," Stumbo said. "What the House will not do — Democrats and Republicans — is to cut education when we don't have to. And that is the bottom line."

Stumbo said the Senate's final offer still included cuts to school districts, which are already struggling.

Lawmakers reached a stalemate on the budget issue after two days of negotiations.

Much of the discussion centered on whether Beshear's administration could save $166.5 million in the second year of the Medicaid budget.

Beshear proposed and the House approved a budget fix that would include moving $166.5 million from next year's budget to the current year. Beshear has said he can generate savings to make up for the resulting hole in the next fiscal year by starting managed care programs in the $6.5 billion health care plan for the poor and disabled.

Senate Republicans say Beshear can't generate those savings, in part because managed care contracts won't be signed until this summer. Beshear also could not save $120 million in the Medicaid program this year, as he had promised in the budget, Senate Republicans say.

The Senate's version of House Bill 305 includes across-the-board cuts to make up the shortfall in Medicaid. Those cuts would be 0.525 percent in the first year of the budget and 2.26 percent in the second year of the budget. Education would be spared in the first year but would be cut in the second year, which begins July 1.

During negotiations Tuesday, the House offered a proposal that would put some one-time money in an account. If savings in the Medicaid program fall short, the state could draw down those funds. If the savings did appear, the money would go to the state's Rainy Day account, which has been drained over the past several years.

Senate Republicans countered with a proposal that would still institute about $93 million in cuts, which would translate to roughly 0.316 percent cuts in the current fiscal year and 1.58 percent cuts in the second year. The state's main funding formula for schools would have a 0.65 percent cut in the second year of the budget, Williams said.

The money would be taken from agency budgets, but if Medicaid savings materialize the money would be restored, Williams said.
Earlier Tuesday, Senate Health and Welfare Chairman Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said Beshear's administration will likely not see savings because the proposed managed care contracts are fragmented into various specialties, including radiology and imaging and pharmacy.

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
Lexington Herald-Leader

 

Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington touts passage of House Bill 313


 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 8, 2011) – House Bill 313, legislation clarifying where individuals with a concealed carry permit can store a weapon in a motor vehicle, cleared its final hurdle on March 4 and now goes to the governor for his signature. 

 

Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington, R-Fort Wright (63rd District), the state’s former Homeland Security Director who retired at the rank of Major from the Kentucky State Police, who is one of the primary sponsors of this legislation said, “This bill provides clear and unambiguous language defining where law abiding citizens can carry a concealed weapon, loaded or unloaded, in their car of truck.”

 

Rep. Webb-Edgington continued, “My colleagues and I determined that it was necessary for clarification of the language after courts interpreted the current statute which refers to a ‘glove compartment’ to literally mean a compartment cut into the dashboard on the passenger side of the motor vehicle.  This legislation will allow permit holders to place their firearm in a console or manufacturer installed compartments inside the vehicle.”

 

Rep. Webb-Edgington, a long time firearms advocate said, “When the concealed carry permit legislation was passed I believe it was the intent of the General Assembly to include consoles and other enclosures.  But, given the interpretation of the courts I felt it was necessary to leave no question as to the rights of Kentucky gun owners.”

 

Posted by Michael Goins

Director of Media Relations & Social Media

House Republican Leadership 

 

 

Fifty-five Individuals Charged; Major, Long-Term Undercover Operation Takes More Than One Hundred Guns and a Half-Million Dollars In Drugs Off of the Streets of Huntington

 

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Paul J. Vido and Huntington Police Department Chief W.H. SkipHolbrook, along with several members from the law enforcement community joined today to announce a major, long-term undercover law enforcement effort targeting the Fairfield West area of Huntington.

A total of 55 defendants have been charged with federal crimes including illegal firearm possession, drug trafficking and other offenses. Arrest warrants have been issued for each individual involved in the criminal activity.

The criminal probe began in April 2010, targeting numerous traffickers of stolen firearms and individuals who participated in illegal drug transactions in and around Huntington. The investigation, conducted by federal and local agents, resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs with a street value of over $500,000 and more than 100 firearms.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin stated, When I took office the middle of last year, I made fighting violent drug crime in Huntington my top priority. This operation, charging 55 defendants, underscores the substantial ongoing effort that we are making to help the citizens of Fairfield West and the city of Huntington take back their streets.

More than 200 federal, state and local agents took part in the firearms and narcotics take-down effort. The defendants include drug traffickers, members and associates of drug trafficking organizations, convicted felons, as well as several local gang members.

Because of the hard work and dedication of the undercover agents, 110 firearms and over one half million dollars of illegal drugs were taken off the streets of Huntington, ATF Special Agent in Charge Paul J. Vido said. Today’s enforcement actions proved that ATF will do everything in our power to protect our neighborhoods and communities. Criminals beware and be prepared to face the consequences.

Huntington Police Department Chief W.H. Skip Holbrook stated, This operation is a testament to how much can be accomplished in a coordinated effort. This operation deals a major blow to the criminal element here in Huntington. This is a great day for the citizens of Fairfield West, the city of Huntington and this region as a whole.

R. Booth Goodwin II, United States Attorney

Contact: Melvin Smith

800-659-8726*(304)345-2200

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 


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