Friday, February 11, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...2-12-'11
- Senator Ray Jones’ bill that would give local officials more control of the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville was passed Friday by the Kentucky State Senate. The Expo Center is governed by a seven-member board of directors, all appointed by the Governor. Board member terms are staggered. Jones, D-Pikeville, said his legislation, Senate Bill 66, would give Pikeville and Pike County officials more input into the operation of the facility by allowing them to make appointments to the board of directors, reducing the Governor’s appointments to three members, while giving Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne Rutherford and Pikeville Mayor Frank Justice II two appointments each. Although it is a state-owned facility, local officials have the responsibility of funding and maintaining the center. The multi-purpose arena, which opened in October 2005, can seat 7,000 for concerts and 5,700 for sporting events. In writing the 2009-2010 budget, the Senate appropriated $400,000 in coal severance money to be used in $200,000 increments over two years for the operation and maintenance of the Expo Center. The City of Pikeville also contributes $100,000 a year to the facility. During the 2009 special session, Senator Jones and Representative Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, passed legislation that allowed a governmental entity to receive a rebate of the sales tax generated by the sale of admissions to a public facility and the sale of tangible personal property at the public facility. Despite these funds and funding avenues, the Expo Center still faces financial woes. Speaking at the request of the board, Senator Jones had asked that the county release the 2010 coal severance money to the center earlier than planned. Jones says there's an obligation to make sure that this $20 million plus facility is successful. Senate Bill 66 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
- Roughly 600 service and maintenance workers of SEIU Local 1199 Union at Kings Daughter's Medical Center in Ashland have overwhelmingly rejected the final contract offer from the hospital. The union’s contract with Kings Daughter's ran out at the end of November. At the end of December, workers also voted down an offer from the hospital. The union says it will now issue a 10 day informational picket notice. A union spokesperson says, despite rejecting this offer, a strike is not inevitable, but no new negotiations have been scheduled.
- Upset with Governor Steve Beshear's statements in support of the coal industry, about 20 members of the environmental group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth staged a weekend sit-in at the Capitol office Friday, demanding to speak to the Governor. They say Beshear needs to speak out against strip mining and to stop his suit against the EPA. Beshear met with them in the lobby of his office, and, after 15 to 20 minutes, the group said they were not satisfied and were willing to stay until forced to leave or be arrested. The group was expected to stay until a rally Monday by the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth group.
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