This week, I was proud to join Gov. Steve Beshear in announcing a settlement of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) litigation, which will provide crucial funding to farmers, early childhood development programs, and public health in Kentucky for the foreseeable future. In 1998, the major tobacco companies agreed to pay states, including Kentucky, more than $200 billion to settle lawsuits over the health care costs related to smoking. However, for the past ten years, there has been a legal battle between the tobacco companies and the states over portions of the payments.
The agreement announced Thursday ends the long-running dispute and restores certainty to Kentucky’s annual payments from the MSA. Under the terms of the settlement, we avoid the possibility of costly litigation and the potential loss of the entire annual MSA payment. This agreement fully restores Kentucky’s MSA payment for 2014 and will result in a net gain of $57.2 million for Kentucky to continue supporting agriculture, public health initiatives, and early childhood services.
This is great news for our farmers, communities, and health advocates. These funds are critical to Kentucky, and we can’t afford to lose them. I appreciate Gov. Beshear and his staff working diligently with my staff to hammer out a settlement that is good for Kentucky and will ensure our tobacco payments for decades to come. You can learn more about the MSA and Thursday’s announcement here.
As required by law, my office held a public drawing on Monday afternoon to select the six Kentucky counties that will undergo post-election audits. In the coming weeks, my investigators will conduct independent inquiries in Meade, Allen, Clark, Warren, Breathitt, and Russell counties. We’ll be checking election forms and voting machines, interviewing county officials, and looking for any election irregularities. It’s also important to note that this was a random drawing, and the selection of these counties does not imply that irregularities are suspected. These audits ensure a fair and equitable election process and supplement the work our investigators did leading up to and during the primary election. You can read more about our post-election audit drawing here.
On Tuesday, I joined my father, Tom, and members of the Kentucky Supreme Court to honor former Kentucky Chief Justice John Palmore at a special recognition ceremony at the Capitol. For many years, Justice Palmore has been a great friend and mentor to me, and I was honored to share a few words about his dedication to public service. Photos from the ceremony are available on my Facebook page.
My office also had the pleasure of visiting this week with representatives of Kentucky’s Boys and Girls State program. Emily Kiphuth of Fort Knox and Joseph Vettiankal of Henderson spent Thursday morning in the office learning about the important work we do to protect Kentuckians and uphold the laws of our great Commonwealth.
Sponsored by the American Legion, Boys and Girls State teaches young men and women responsible citizenship, and it gives them the opportunity to see firsthand how their local and state government works. I’d like to thank each of the Girls and Boys State participants for their interest in public service and wish them all the best as they embark on their journey to becoming Kentucky’s future leaders.