Beshear to wrap up listening tour in Paducah Wednesday

Trey Pollard with PolitickerKY.com has taken a look at Beshear’s 13-city listening tour around the state this summer to address questions about policy priorities and help him craft his 2009 legislative agenda.

Beshear, who was in Owensboro last week, will end the tour Wednesday in Paducah at Tilghman High School.

Asked earlier in the tour, Beshear declined to be specific about what proposals he has taken away from these town hall-style meetings, but appears to have used them at least in part to gauge the public’s receptiveness to the revenue-generating options of expanded gaming and a cigarette tax increase.

At the very least, the tour seems to have raised his profile during a summer in which he has battled declining poll numbers. It will be interesting to see if the hours spent fielding questions from the public and hearing all manner of suggestions have an impact on his legislative agenda when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Scenes from the town hall

More from Gov. Steve Beshear’s stop as at Apollo High School Monday night for his “Beshear About Kentucky” tour –

The high school’s auditorium, which seats about 300, was mostly packed and organizer Chad Aull, director of constituent services for the governor, said it was one of the largest in the 13-event series. Of course, Aull is a Philpot native, and could be more generous to his home community when estimating crowd size.

When Beshear arrived, people were still lined up outside because of a delays from people signing in, and the governor told the organizers to let folks to come in and sign in later.

Before opening the floor to questions, Beshear offered about 10 minutes of remarks in which he touched on this summer’s special session to deal with pension reform and the challenges this spring to balance the budget.

Beshear also mentioned job creation, and specifically noted his recent week-long trip to Japan that has prompted criticism after The State Journal reported on the detailed costs of the $86,000 trip. Continue reading

Beshear in Owensboro on Monday for press conference, town hall meeting

Gov. Steve Beshear will bring his “Beshear About Kentucky” listening tour to Owensboro Monday night.

The event, which allows residents to ask questions of the governor and cabinet secretaries and offer suggestions, begins at 6 p.m. at Apollo High School at 2280 Tamarack Road.

While in town, Beshear has also scheduled a 4:30 p.m. press conference with Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat, to talk about home foreclosure relief.

Beshear spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said little information will be released prior to the press conference, which is being held at 2431 Ford Ave. – a home built by the Philpot legislator’s company, Thompson Homes, and featured in this year’s Parade of Homes.

Beshear will also stop in the McLean County town of Sacramento earlier in the day to present a ceremonial check there for a housing assistance grant.

Update…

Beshear will be talking about House Bill 552 at this afternoon’s press conference on Ford Avenue.

The bill, sponsored by Thompson and passed this spring, establishes the Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center that is designed to provide homeowners with information about how to avoid foreclosure. The new law, which went into effect last month, also puts in place new requirements for mortgage lenders.

House Bill 552 passed both chambers without opposition.

Beshear in western Kentucky tomorrow

Gov. Steve Beshear will be making the rounds in western Kentucky Thursday afternoon before heading to Madisonville for his next town hall meeting.

The governor will be at the Merle Travis Music Center in Powderly at 12:15 p.m. for a check presentation to Muhlenberg County for housing rehabilitation and will then head to Dawson Springs, Princeton and Sturgis for similar events in those communities.

His “Beshear About Kentucky” event at Byrnes Auditorium at 750 N. Laffoon Drive in Madisonville begins at 6 p.m.

This will be Beshear’s first stop in western Kentucky on his “listening tour,” which appear to be eliciting some response and ideas from those attending. At an event Monday night in Raceland near Ashland, The Daily Independent reports that folks asked him about illegal immigration, job development, casino gambling and health care.

Beshear will be in Bowling Green on Aug. 6, Owensboro on Aug. 11 and Henderson on Aug. 18 as part of the tour.

The listening tour continues…

Gov. Steve Beshear has the next stop in his “listening tour” of the state on Monday in Raceland on Monday, and The Daily Independent of Ashland has a look ahead at the governor’s next visit.

Beshear was in Winchester Thursday night, and the main topic reported in the media was the cigarette tax increase, which apparently received some support from the crowd of 200. Read the Herald-Leader’s account of the town hall meeting here – Alessi does include some of the ideas offered by attendees, including a light rails system for central Kentucky and a school supply tax holiday.

So far – at least from what is being reported – the first three town hall meetings of the 13 Beshear has planned for this month and next don’t seem to be brimming with too many new ideas from the public or a host of new proposals from the governor. If Beshear is using these stops to help him craft his agenda for the 2009 legislative session, at this point it appears that game plan will be similar to the one offered this spring.

It will be interesting to see what the end result of these meetings is and if perhaps, as is usually the case, the meetings are generating more content, feedback and discussion than can fit into a newspaper account.

Hopefully along with covering the Aug. 11 town hall meeting here in Owensboro, I’ll be able to sit in on a few others along the way when he stops in Henderson, Bowling Green and Madisonville and get a clearer picture of what Beshear and the people are saying.

Beshear’s Town Hall – Round 2

Gov. Steve Beshear will be in Somerset tonight for the second of his 13 town hall meetings around the state this summer.

Talk of the future of casino legislation was center stage in the news accounts of the first meeting last week in Virgie in eastern Kentucky. It will be interesting to see if the conversation heads down the same path tonight or veers off in other directions.

I’m sure eyes will also be on how Beshear travels to the meeting in southeastern Kentucky tonight after the governor was criticized for spending more than $7,000 to charter three planes to take him and his staffers to last week’s town hall meeting in Pike County. The story on that trip can be found here and here.

The governor will also be heading to Winchester, a Clark County town that sits southeast of Lexington, on Thursday for his next town hall.

Update…

Beshear defended his entourage and mode of travel Monday morning during an appearance in Lexington – check out the Herald-Leader’s PolWatchers for more.

Beshear: Casino issue not dead

In the first of his 13 upcoming town hall meetings, Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday night that the casino gambling issue remains on the table.

A new proposal, if it contains a constitutional amendment, couldn’t be considered until the 2010 legislative session due to restrictions on when the legislators – and then the voters – can consider changes to the Kentucky Constitution.

That doesn’t mean that other gambling proposals won’t be rolled out come January when the General Assembly convenes in Frankfort for the start of its “short” 30-working day session.

Rep. Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, has already tossed out the possibility of a slots-at-tracks proposal, which it appears might require changing the constitution or putting the issue to the voters.

It will also be interesting to see how heavily Beshear talks about the casino issue in his trip around the state with the town hall meetings, which run through mid-August, and whether that message varies depending upon where he is in the state.

Beshear will be in Owensboro on Aug. 11, which if I’m not mistaken is the only city on the tour that would have had a shot at a casino license in his unsuccessful gambling proposal this spring.

Roger Alford with The Associated Press was at last night’s meeting in Virgie near Pikeville in eastern Kentucky – read Alford’s report in The Messenger-Inquirer or The Herald-Leader.