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Legislation that would allow registered independents to vote in party primaries in Kentucky is unlikely to pass this year.

The Senate has passed the bill, but it does not have enough support to clear a House committee.

The measure would let the nearly 200,000 independents in Kentucky choose a primary to vote in for each election. Senator Jimmy Higdon sponsored the measure and he says he will try to pass it again next year.

Opponents of the bill say primaries should be meant for the party faithful to choose candidates.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Stu Johnson contributed to this report

The Judge Executive of Fayette County is encouraging state lawmakers to eliminate his position, and any action on the issue could affect Louisville as well.

Jon Larson says he has few responsibilities in the merged government in Lexington.

“I assign to pay deputy sheriffs to go to pick up fugitives from other states even though I have no money to give them, even though my office is not a part of the judicial system,” he says. “I also authenticate documents going out of the country.”

The Jefferson County Judge Executive is similar.

It would take an amendment to state constitution to eliminate either position, and Larson says he’s open to having the constitution changed to only eliminate the Fayette County Judge Executive. It’s not likely the General Assembly will amend the constitution before this year’s session adjourns.

The Associated Press is reporting that lawmakers in Kentucky are threatening to declare the commonwealth a “Sanctuary state,” placing it out of the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republican Senator Brandon Smith, who chairs the Energy and Environment Committee, says environmental regulation is hurting Kentucky, and he’s proposed legislation that would block the EPA from enforcing regulations in Kentucky.

But the bill is unenforceable, and Smith says it’s meant to send a message to President Barack Obama.

Late last year, Kentucky State Police trooper John Hawkins told WFPL the increase in meth lab busts was so sharp that police were on track to find more than one thousand before the end of the year.

Well…that happened.

Kentucky State Police (KSP) released the 2010 methamphetamine lab statistics today and the number indicates an all-time high in the Commonwealth. KSP reports that there were 1,080 meth labs found during 2010, exceeding all previous year totals.

The top five counties with the highest incidents of meth lab occurrences were Jefferson (154 labs), Laurel (113 labs), Warren (70 labs), Barren (57 labs) and Hardin (53).

There’s legislation pending in the General Assembly that would make decongestant and meth ingredient pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. The bill has the support of many law enforcement officials (but not all), and it has a number of opponents as well. It’s not clear whether the bill will pass both chambers of the General Assembly, but if it does, it’s also not clear whether Governor Steve Beshear will sign it.

About 300 people gathered in Frankfort Tuesday to protest an Arizona-style immigration bill making its way through the General Assembly.

The legislation gives local and state police broad authority to check the immigration status of people they suspect to be in the country illegally. The bill passed the GOP-controlled Senate, but faces an uncertain future in the Democratically-led House.

Senator Perry Clark of Louisville is one of the bill’s leading opponents. He says the legislation is unnecessary and expensive. The Legislative Research Commission estimated the bill would cost the commonwealth $89 million a year, primarily due to increased incarceration.

by Graham Shelby

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear hasn’t decided if he’ll sign a bill that would make medicine containing the meth ingredient and decongestant pseudoephedrine available by prescription-only.

The Governor says he wants to reduce the number of meth labs in the state, but is concerned about the effect of the measure on law-abiding citizens. In addition, he says it’s hard to know if any new law enforcement system is going to be effective before it’s implemented.

“When we first put our system that we have now in, for about the first two years, the lab numbers really dropped, and then of course they came back up as people figured out somehow how to get around the system. And I’m concerned that I don’t know how effective it will be,” he says.

Beshear says he intends to listen to the debate in Frankfort before making up his mind. That debate will continue next week. Proponents of the bill say the measure would drastically limit meth-makers access to a key component of the illegal drug methamphetamine.

Governor Steve Beshear spoke at the Kentucky School Board Association’s annual conference Friday. He encouraged the audience to support a bill that would raise the dropout age to 18. Similar legislation stalled in the General Assembly last year.

Beshear made other comments on education in his speech, and you can listen to his remarks here (mp3).

Legislation that would make over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine prescription-only is making its way through the General Assembly. Here’s the legislative update and the reaction from one law enforcement official.

The issue has divided lawmakers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and law enforcement officials, and it will be interesting to see if Kentucky follows the example set by Oregon and Mississippi.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will soon address a General Assembly committee to support a state bill that would encourage federal lawmakers to balance the U.S. budget. Historians and economists still debate whether it would be wise to balance the federal budget in poor economic times.

The bill that would make over the counter cold medicine that could be used to make meth prescription-only is making its way through the General Assembly, and while law enforcement officials generally favor the legislation, it’s being met with stiff opposition from drug manufacturers (the ones who make the legal drugs. Meth manufactureres likely oppose the bill as well, they probably don’t hire lobbyists).

Mississippi and Oregon have seen a prescription law lead to a drop in meth lab busts. And there’s evidence that merely tracking cold medicine purchases is not only ineffective, but makes matters worse by creating an illegal market for Sudafed, etc. (Prescription drug abuse is also a continuing problem in the U.S.)

What I don’t often hear from officials on either side of the debate is some response or echoing of the most common complaint I hear from the public…prescriptions require visits to the doctor. That’s inconvenient, but for many people, it’s impossible. For the uninsured and under insured, a visit to the doctor can break the bank.

The debate on how to fight meth is getting more interesting as more and more states consider prescription-only laws. The question of how to fight a scourge without punishing the innocent is raised constantly, and it’s fascinating to see how various lawmakers answer it.

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