Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kentucky News: Gov gets a new blog, video gambling & more...

News briefs from around Kentucky at 4:58 a.m. EDT
Ky. governor starts blog
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — First it was Twitter, now Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is going up with a blog.

The 64-year-old Democrat launched his blog Monday. Beshear says it will help Kentuckians stay updated on what's new.

Beshear says now's the best time to start the blog because he recently called the General Assembly into a special session to begin next Monday. The governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation addressing the state's estimated $1 billion budget shortfall and to legalize slot machines at race tracks.

The governor also wants lawmakers to pass economic development tax incentives and to create an authority to oversee construction of bridges between Kentucky and Indiana.

Beshear already had a Twitter account and gives weekly addresses on YouTube.



Ky. racing commission to discuss gambling
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is scheduled to discuss a proposal to allow video gambling at tracks.

The commission's agenda says it will take up whether to support Gov. Steve Beshear's call for lawmakers to consider the proposal during a special legislative session that begins Monday.

Beshear called a special session so lawmakers could consider legislation aimed at relieving the state's estimated $1 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year. He later added the gambling proposal to the agenda.

The Democratic governor who campaigned on a promise to expand gambling says a state known for the Kentucky Derby and its majestic race horses is in danger of losing the equine industry without additional gambling revenue.


Auditors question TVA shoreline deals with wealthy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wealthy and influential people seeking private lakeshore access to the Tennessee Valley Authority's 11,000 miles of Tennessee River system shoreline appeared to receive preferential treatment, according to an audit released Monday.

TVA Inspector General Richard Moore's 85-page report found no evidence that rules were deliberately broken, but said TVA managed the program "selectively and arbitrarily" often to the benefit of "the wealthy, the influential, or both."

Among those receiving approval for boat docks or waterfront access was U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., who until recently served on a House subcommittee with oversight of TVA, the nation's largest public utility.

The audit, pushed by publicity over Shuler's influence on a residential lake development near Knoxville in which he is an investor, focused on TVA's "maintain and grow" program under which it grants water-access rights to one piece of land in exchange for rights on another piece of land. The goal is to produce no net loss of public shoreline.

Moore worried the program, as it was run, may undermine TVA lakeshore management reforms adopted in 2006. The reforms for the first time set residential development limits on TVA lakes and rivers, ensuring the public could use at least 68 percent of its managed shoreline.

Others who were approved for private docks or water access were former TVA Chairman Bill Sansom of Knoxville and Charles Perry, the general manager of the Paris (Ky.) Board of Public Utilities — a TVA power distributor.


Governor, leaders to discuss special session
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's House is "poised" to vote on a plan to legalize video gambling at horse racing tracks throughout the state, Speaker Greg Stumbo said Monday night, stopping short of predicting its ultimate success.

Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, agreed with Gov. Steve Beshear that lawmakers should vote this summer on whether to allow tracks to operate video gambling machines — also called slots — that could generate additional money for Kentucky's horse industry.

Still, Stumbo said the plan lacked the "full support" among leaders in the Democrat-controlled House and debate would likely drag on more than a week.

"We don't have the full support," Stumbo said during an appearance on Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Tonight show broadcast from Lexington, Ky. "This is one of those bills that we're just telling our members to vote what they believe their conscience is. It's too important of a decision to really twist arms or do those sorts of things."

Stumbo, Beshear, a Democrat, and Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican appeared together Monday night before the General Assembly's high-stakes special session set to begin next week. Beshear has called the legislature into a special session on June 15 to deal with an estimated $1 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year, and a plan to legalize video gambling terminals at Kentucky's horse racing tracks.

The governor, a Democrat, also has ordered lawmakers to consider passing legislation authorizing new economic development tax incentives, and the creation of an authority to oversee construction of major bridges between Kentucky and Indiana.

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