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  • April 18

    Earlier this week, Mid-Continent University (MCU), a private, non-profit school operating in Mayfield, Ky., announced that it would begin laying off employees immediately and shutting down operations by the end of June. These recent developments have left many MCU students wondering what to do next, and I want students to know that my office is closely monitoring this situation. We are working with the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, and MCU’s accreditor to ensure that students are able to graduate or finish out the semester next month. My Office of Consumer Protection and I are committed to working with students who may have concerns about the transfer of their credits to other institutions, their legal rights, and student loans. We have set up the website www.ag.ky.gov/mcu, which will be updated with the latest information available for MCU students. Students may also call our hotline, 502-696-5485, or send an email to mcu@ag.ky.gov.

    In Campbell County on Thursday, I joined Northern Kentucky University (NKU) President Geoffrey Mearns to announce the guilty plea of former NKU Athletic Director Scott Eaton. Eaton was charged with theft by unlawful taking for stealing more than $311,000 from the university between January 2007 and March 2013. Eaton stole the funds by defrauding NKU using a variety of schemes, and his reckless behavior was selfish and inexcusable. As a result of the guilty plea, Eaton agreed to serve the maximum term of 10 years in prison and repay NKU every penny he stole. I commend President Mearns for immediately contacting my office about this issue. I am also very proud of the great work of my investigators and prosecutors who were able to bring this case to a successful close.

    Since 2010, I have traveled the state speaking to middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. I’ve heard the heartbreaking stories of parents losing their sons and daughters to a drug overdose, and I’ve comforted children who have cried on my shoulder because they, too, have experienced firsthand the loss of a family member due to a drug addiction. Addiction is ripping Kentucky families apart, and we are doing everything we can in the Office of the Attorney General to prevent it. I am disappointed that Kentucky lawmakers, during this year’s legislative session, did not pass the bipartisan heroin legislation that I helped craft with Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley. We must act to confront the reality of a growing heroin epidemic in our state. Lives are at stake, and this legislation would have given law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to help address this issue. Our efforts must be refocused to pass this legislation and expand treatment for opiate addiction to address the abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin.

    I was honored to speak at the Family & Children’s Place Building Brighter Futures Breakfast on Thursday morning. In Jefferson County alone, more than 11,000 children were involved in reports of suspected child abuse or neglect made to Child Protective Services in 2012. As your Attorney General, I’ve focused on putting people before politics, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and punishing those who wish to do our families harm. It is a privilege to work with members of the Family & Children’s Place to protect children from abuse and to help those heal who have suffered the trauma of abuse, violence, and neglect. Since I took office, we’ve awarded almost $150,000 in grants to the Family & Children’s Place. The grants are funded through our Child Victims’ Trust Fund and the Child Sexual Assault and Exploitation Prevention Board, which I chair. Our newly-designed website, ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, was created to make it easier for you to donate to the fund and to raise awareness about abuse and prevention. I hope you’ll visit the website to learn more about the programs that are truly making a difference in the lives of Kentucky children.

    This week my Office of Victims Advocacy and I hosted the 2014 Kentucky Victim Assistance Conference. This year’s conference celebrated 30 years of the Victims of Crime Act by focusing on assisting our most vulnerable and underserved victims. I am grateful for all of our victim advocates who work tirelessly every day assisting victims of crime and their families. My office remains committed to victim advocacy and to ensuring justice and healing for crime victims throughout the Commonwealth.

    It was also a pleasure to visit Goldsmith Elementary School on Monday to participate in the annual Real Men Read program. Real Men Read is an initiative that encourages students to read at an early age. I had the opportunity to read "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson" to approximately 100 students at Goldsmith Elementary, and it was such a joy to see our children so eager to learn. The future of Kentucky looks very bright.

    Finally, Elizabeth and I want to wish you and your family a safe and joyous Easter. We hope you have a great weekend.

  • April 11

    On Thursday, my Office of Victims Advocacy (OVA) and I hosted the annual Crime Victims’ Rights Day Service and the Kentucky Homicide Memorial dedication of names at Resthaven Cemetery in Louisville. Nine names were added to the memorial this year, and I was incredibly moved by the strength and courage of the family members who attended. This annual service is such an important time to remember the victims of violent crimes and their families. My staff and I will continue working every day to ensure that the voices of Kentucky’s crime victims are heard.

    In 2013, my Office of Victims Advocacy provided resource referrals to more than 4,000 victims, victim advocates, and victim service providers. The OVA also trained more than 700 victim advocates, prosecutors, and law enforcement through various initiatives, including our Victims Assistance Conference, which is designed to alert advocates and others about pressing crime and violence issues. This year’s Victims Assistance Conference is being held next week in Lexington, and I’m looking forward to speaking with the many victim service providers and law enforcement officials who work tirelessly making our communities safer and ensuring justice and healing for crime victims.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to discuss my concerns about the marketing practices of some for-profit colleges with Bloomberg TV. Some of these schools are using unfair business tactics that take advantage of students, leaving many with worthless degrees and enormous amounts of student-loan debt. As chair of the national working group of 32 state attorneys general who are reviewing these practices, I am committed to protecting our consumers here in Kentucky. You can watch my entire interview with Bloomberg TV here.

    I hope you will also take a moment to check out my monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted this week and highlights the great work my office accomplished in March. In it, you can read more about the newly-designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund, my efforts to overturn the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of an extremely potent painkiller called Zohydro, and my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe programs in Scott and Anderson counties. Kentucky General News is available here.

    This afternoon, I enjoyed attending the annual "They’re Off! Luncheon," the official kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival. This is one of my favorite times of year, and the Derby Festival team always does an outstanding job of making the weeks leading up to Derby such a special experience for Kentuckians.

    Finally, I’m looking forward to visiting Goldsmith Elementary School next week to participate in this year’s "Real Men Read" initiative during Louisville’s annual "Give a Day" week of service. I also encourage you to "give a day." Consider volunteering your time to a school, church, or non-profit group next week, and help make Kentucky an even better place to live, work, and raise all of our families.

  • April 4

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize the important role that communities play in protecting our children. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, in 2012, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect nationwide. Additionally, statistics show that most of these children were abused by someone they know and trust. In Kentucky, I am committed to ensuring that programs serving our most vulnerable children are funded.

    In March, I had the opportunity to unveil ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly-designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund (CVTF). The CVTF provides necessary funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse programs. As your Attorney General, I proudly serve as chair of the Child Sexual Abuse Exploitation Prevention (CSAEP) Board, which administers the CVTF.

    ICareAboutKids.ky.gov allows Kentuckians to support the CVTF with just a few clicks of the mouse. Your donation helps fund evidence-based programs that provide our children with personal safety skills, teach adults how to keep kids safe from sexual abuse and exploitation, and educate the public on how to report suspected child abuse, which Kentucky law requires. As the parent of two young daughters, I want to ensure that the public has access to this crucial information. The "I Care About Kids" website is the focus of my latest column, and I hope you take time this month to read it and also visit ICareAboutKids.ky.gov to learn more about how you can help us fund programs that are truly making a difference. My column is available online here.

    Today I met with fellow members of the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee during our public meeting held at the Capitol. We received a great response from community groups and treatment providers that submitted ideas on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for juvenile substance abuse treatment grants through the KY Kids Recovery program. The grants will be used to help expand treatment beds at existing facilities across Kentucky and create new juvenile treatment programs. The committee is currently reviewing the submissions and will invite the best responses to submit a second formal proposal. Additional information on KY Kids Recovery is available here.

    Earlier this week, I was invited to teach a class at my alma mater’s Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. It was such an honor to receive the invitation. I enjoyed speaking with a group of very bright and talented students about current issues involving civil rights and social change.

    Finally, I want to wish the University of Kentucky Wildcats good luck as they prepare to take on Wisconsin during Saturday night’s Final Four matchup in Dallas. Let’s bring another national title back to the Commonwealth!

  • March 28

    Earlier this week I joined five other state attorneys general in calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to overturn the recent approval of Zohydro ER, a pure hydrocodone pill reported to be five to 10 times more potent than products currently available on the market, such as Vicodin or Lortab. In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zohydro against the recommendation of its advisory panel, which voted 11-2 in opposition because of the drug’s high potential for misuse and its lack of an abuse-deterrent formulation. The FDA’s decision to approve Zohydro does not make sense. Unlike extended-release opioids containing abuse-deterrent properties, there is nothing that would prevent someone from easily crushing or injecting the drug to get high. For decades, we have fought the disastrous effects of the illegal marketing of the drug OxyContin in Kentucky, and I do not want to see the great strides we have made combating prescription drug abuse reversed. You can read a copy of the letter that my fellow attorneys general and I sent to Sec. Kathleen Sebelius here.

    Our efforts in Kentucky to prevent prescription drug abuse are making a difference. For the first time, the state is below the national average for prescription drug abuse. Additionally, the percentage of Kentucky teens misusing prescriptions drugs has dropped dramatically over the past four years. While these statistics are encouraging, I remain committed to curbing the cycle of addiction that continues to plague our Commonwealth. On Tuesday, I was thrilled to visit schools in Scott and Anderson counties to speak with students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. Joined by Van Ingram, the executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, and Mike Donta, a concerned parent who lost his son after a long battle with prescription drug addition, we shared our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with approximately 1,650 students at the Scott County Ninth Grade School and Anderson County High School. They were two great groups of kids, and I appreciate Principals Dwayne Ellison and Chris Glass for allowing us to visit. Tapings from our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe programs are available on my YouTube channel here. Don’t forget to click "Subscribe" to get the latest videos from our office.

    Kentucky is reported as having the third-highest rate of fatal overdoses in the country -- the vast majority from prescription pills. However, heroin is becoming the drug of choice across Kentucky, affecting our largest cities and our smallest communities. On Wednesday, I testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee regarding Senate Bill 5. The bipartisan legislation, which I helped craft with Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley, is designed to address Kentucky’s growing heroin problem. Through September of 2013, our Commonwealth saw nearly 180 overdose deaths involving heroin. We are losing far too many people as a result of this dangerous and highly addictive drug. Senate Bill 5, which would stiffen penalties for drug traffickers and increase access to treatment for drug addicts, advanced out of committee this week, and I remain hopeful the full legislature will pass the bill by the end of this year’s legislative session.

    Finally, I enjoyed speaking to the Frankfort Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoon. I appreciate the Rotarians for inviting me to share the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General with them and talk about how we can all work together to move Kentucky forward. I’m also looking forward to a great Sweet 16 basketball game tonight between the Cards and the Cats! I am very proud of what these teams have accomplished this year, and I love when the players from both schools have the opportunity to share their talents with the rest of the country on the national stage. Good luck to both teams!

  • March 21

    This week I joined HuffPost Live to discuss the resurgence of heroin in Kentucky and my efforts to curb substance abuse across the Commonwealth. Heroin is rapidly becoming the drug of choice in many parts of Kentucky. It’s cheaper to get on the street than prescription drugs, which are often a gateway to heroin addiction. Additionally, heroin is also an opiate and it mimics the same high people get from crushing and injecting opioid painkillers. In 2012, heroin overdose deaths increased 650 percent in Kentucky, and I want you to know that we are doing all we can in the Office of the Attorney General to fight this problem.

    With concerned parents and state and law enforcement partners, I launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program in 2010. We visit Kentucky middle and high schools, sharing with students the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. To date, my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I have reached approximately 40,000 students, teachers, and parents across the Commonwealth through this initiative. You can watch tapings from our previous school visits here.

    In December, I joined two Kentucky lawmakers in announcing legislation aimed at addressing the increase in heroin abuse and trafficking that our communities are seeing. We came together in a bipartisan fashion to tackle this issue head on, just like we’ve done in the past with prescription drugs and meth. The bill, which I helped craft and am supporting during the current legislative session, creates tougher penalties for high-volume traffickers. The legislation would also make it easier for first responders to access Naloxone to help prevent overdose deaths, and it would provide limited immunity from drug paraphernalia and possession charges for people who call 911 to report an overdose. You can watch my entire interview about this important issue with HuffPost Live here. Addiction is plaguing our Commonwealth, and I will continue working tirelessly to help stop this disturbing trend.

    I’m looking forward to taking our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Scott and Anderson counties next week. On Tuesday, I’ll be speaking with the students at Scott County Ninth Grade School and Anderson County High School. I appreciate the school leaders for supporting this initiative and allowing us to share our message with their students. Be sure to check out my Twitter and Facebook pages for updates throughout the day as I travel to both schools. You can also follow the Office of the Attorney General on Instagram.

    Finally, March Madness is in full swing, and the Commonwealth is being represented wonderfully this year in both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. Good luck to all of our Kentucky teams!

  • March 14

    I was proud to join Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today to kick off the sixth annual “March Against Hunger” food drive in Louisville. Each year, Attorney General Zoeller and I challenge attorneys and law firms in both Louisville and southern Indiana to participate in the competition by donating food or money to the Dare to Care Food Bank. In 2013, 52 participating law groups helped raise more than 10,000 pounds of food and $55,455 in monetary donations. This great initiative helps put food on the tables of families in need across the region, and I encourage firms in Kentucky to get involved again this year. To learn more about participating in the competition, visit www.marchagainsthunger.org.

    General Zoeller and I also co-sponsored a letter that was sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week supporting a proposed rule that calls for an update to generic drug labeling requirements. The FDA’s proposed rule would allow generic drug manufacturers to independently update their safety labeling information as soon as they become aware of a new safety risk. Currently, generic drug makers are prohibited from updating this information without such changes first being made by the product’s original developer. The proposed rule would greatly improve medication safety by ensuring that generic pharmaceutical companies are more closely monitoring their products and diligently alerting their consumers of any new health risks associated with those products. I appreciate General Zoeller’s support on this issue as well as the 28 other state and territorial attorneys general who also signed the letter. You can read the letter here.

    It was a pleasure to join WKYT’s Bill Bryant this morning for a taping of Kentucky Newsmakers. It’s always great to catch up with Bill and share the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General. Look for our segment to air Sunday morning on WKYT. Earlier this week, I also had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Alessi on cn2’s Pure Politics. You can watch that interview here.

    Finally, be sure to check out the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter highlights all of the great work my office accomplished during the month of February. In it, you can read more about my visit to King Middle School, my commitment to keeping the for-profit college industry honest, and the upcoming deadline to submit ideas for the KY Kids Recovery grant program. Kentucky General News is available here.

  • March 7

    Earlier this week, I announced that I would not appeal U.S. District Judge John Heyburn’s recent ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. As your Attorney General, I took an oath to defend and uphold both the Constitution of this Commonwealth and the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. Constitution is designed to protect everyone’s rights, both the majority and the minority groups.

    From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right. By defending this case, I came to the conclusion that I would be defending discrimination. That is something I simply will not do. My decision is one I feel very strongly about, and it is a decision that I can be proud of. In the end, this is about putting people over politics, and I am confident I am on the right side of history. To view my full statement regarding my decision, visit my YouTube page.

    On Wednesday, I joined thousands of Kentuckians on Capitol Avenue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Civil Rights March on Frankfort. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come over the past 50 years on this issue. Still, we must continue our fight for equal justice under the law. Photos from the event are available on my Facebook page.

    I also had the great opportunity this week to unveil ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund. The CVTF provides necessary funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse prevention programs. The user-friendly website puts critical resources at users’ fingertips, and it allows Kentuckians to support the fund with just a few clicks of the mouse. Statistics show that 1 in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before they turn 18. By increasing awareness about the CVTF through the I Care About Kids website, we can better educate Kentuckians about this serious issue. I encourage you to visit ICareAboutKids.ky.gov to learn more about how you can help us fund programs that are truly making a difference. Kentucky children are at risk and prevention is the key to keeping them safe.

    Finally, stopping the cycle of addiction that is plaguing our Commonwealth is the focus of my latest column. The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair, is currently accepting proposals on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for KY Kids Recovery, a grant program that will fund comprehensive juvenile substance abuse treatment programs. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships and non-profits across the Commonwealth are eligible to submit ideas, and the deadline to do is March 31. Please spread the word about KY Kids Recovery and help me fight substance abuse in our communities. Visit kykidsrecovery.ky.gov to learn more about the grant program and to download the Request for Information.

  • February 28

    I was honored to join Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and several of my fellow state attorneys general at a press conference held earlier this week in Washington, D.C. to announce legal action against ITT, a for-profit college chain accused of predatory student lending. The CFPB alleges that ITT exploited its students and pushed them into high-cost private student loans that were very likely to end in default. As chair of the national working group of 32 state attorneys general who are reviewing the practices of some for-profit colleges, protecting our students is an issue I care very deeply about. There are some schools within the for-profit college industry that are more interested in getting their hands on federal student loan dollars than in educating students. To date, I have filed lawsuits against four for-profit schools, and I remain committed to keeping the for-profit college industry honest. You can watch a recording of the press conference hosted by the CFPB here.

    On Thursday, I traveled to King Middle School in Mercer County with Mike Donta to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the students there. Mike’s son died in 2010 after a long battle with prescription drug addiction, and his story is a powerful one. Mike is dedicated to warning kids across our Commonwealth about the dangers of abusing drugs, and I am thankful for his contributions to the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative. I am also appreciative of our educators, including King Middle School Principal Terry Gordon and his staff at Mercer County Schools, who support our efforts and allow us to speak to their students. Be sure to check out photos from the program on our Facebook page here.

    This afternoon, I had a great conversation with fellow members of the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee during our public meeting held at the Capitol. It was also wonderful to chat with several representatives from various treatment providers in Kentucky who attended our meeting. Currently, the committee is accepting proposals on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for KY Kids Recovery, a juvenile substance abuse treatment grant program established in January. For more information about the program and the Request for Information process, please visit kykidsrecovery.ky.gov.

    Next week, my office will be unveiling ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly designed website created to benefit the Child Victims’ Trust Fund. The CVTF has provided funding for child sexual abuse prevention programs since 1985. The updated website will provide resources for child abuse prevention and help promote the CVTF, and I’m eager for everyone to see it. Check back for more details on this initiative Wednesday.

    On Monday, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WKDZ in Cadiz, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville. I always enjoy calling the stations and sharing the latest news from my office with listeners. I hope you’ll tune in if you live in one of those areas.

  • February 21

    We had a great crowd attend a question and answer session held earlier this week for organizations interested in learning more about KY Kids Recovery. KY Kids Recovery is a juvenile substance abuse treatment grant program that was created after my office settled cases against two pharmaceutical companies for $32 million. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships and non-profits are eligible to apply for the grants, and it was wonderful to see so many people attend Tuesday's Q & A session. Addiction is destroying families across our Commonwealth, and the strong turnout at the event truly signifies the need for expanded treatment options in Kentucky. The deadline to submit a grant proposal is now just one month away. The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair, will review the submissions and invite the best responses to submit a second formal proposal. You can view additional information about the grant program and download the KY Kids Recovery Request for Information here.

    Next week, I'll be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) annual Winter Meeting. I will be joining attorneys general from across the country to discuss a variety of issues that are important to our communities, including consumer financial protection and cybersafety. Additionally, as co-chair of the NAAG Substance Abuse Committee, serving alongside Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, I'm looking forward to sharing information with attendees about how my office is working to fight substance abuse in Kentucky.

    Educating our kids about the dangers of abusing drugs, particularly prescription painkillers, is an initiative that I continue to make a top priority. Next Thursday, I'll be in Mercer County speaking to the students at King Middle School as part of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program. We're losing more people to overdoses than traffic accidents in Kentucky, and we must focus on treatment and education if we're going to stop this disturbing trend. Since 2010, my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I have shared our drug abuse prevention message with approximately 40,000 students, teachers and parents, and I appreciate Principal Gordon allowing us the opportunity to visit with his students next week. Be sure to check out our Facebook page and YouTube channel for pictures and videos from the event.

  • February 14

    Organizations interested in learning more about applying for our KY Kids Recovery grants will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session in the Capitol Annex on Tuesday. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships, and non-profits may apply for the grants, which will fund comprehensive juvenile substance abuse treatment programs across the Commonwealth. This is an excellent opportunity for entities to gather additional information about the KY Kids Recovery program and the qualifications for submitting applications. Details on the Q & A session can be found at ag.ky.gov/kykidsrecovery. I encourage you to help spread the word about this important initiative and help me fight substance abuse in Kentucky.

    While you’re visiting ag.ky.gov/kykidsrecovery, please take a moment to watch and share the public service announcement that Gov. Beshear and I recently taped for the KY Kids Recovery program. The PSA serves as a call-to-action urging organizations to submit applications for the grants. It also highlights the $32 million settlement my office secured to make this grant program possible. In addition to the website, the PSA is available on the Office of the Attorney General’s YouTube channel here. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the YouTube channel and consider clicking "Subscribe" on the right side of the page to stay updated with all of the videos my office produces and posts online.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to update the Kentucky House Budget Review Subcommittee on the top priorities and ongoing initiatives in the Office of the Attorney General. I often say that I have the best staff in state government and, despite unprecedented budget cuts, our many accomplishments for Kentucky families and communities are a testament to their commitment to public service and this Commonwealth.

    You can read more about those accomplishments in our newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted online this week and features stories about my recent visit to Campbell County High School, our efforts to protect consumers from a Kentucky propane provider, and more. The newsletter can be found here.

    On Wednesday, I enjoyed meeting with members of the Leadership Barren County Class. We talked about issues affecting communities across our Commonwealth and how we can work together to move Kentucky forward. I also appreciate Commonwealth's Attorney John Gardner organizing the trip and making my office a stop on the group's schedule.

    Finally, Monday is Presidents’ Day. Let us take time to celebrate all of our U.S. presidents past and present and remember the efforts of leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who worked tirelessly serving this great nation.

  • February 7

    It’s been a busy week in the Office of the Attorney General! On Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Chrysalis House, a facility in Lexington, Ky. that provides substance abuse treatment for pregnant women. Chrysalis House is receiving $600,000 over two years from settlements I secured from two pharmaceutical companies. You can read more about the settlements here. This money is allowing the facility to continue operating and providing treatment to 200 women and children each year. I am so proud of the women who are seeking treatment at Chrysalis House and working hard to break the cycle of addiction.

    The settlement funds are being administered by the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which Gov. Steve Beshear created by executive order. As chair of the committee, I was honored to brief members of the Recovery Kentucky Task Force this week about the money and how it will continue to help expand access to substance abuse treatment throughout Kentucky.

    Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and protecting yourself from identity thieves is the focus of my latest monthly column. Thieves are able to find your information in your trash, your mailbox, and on the Internet, where they will use phony email schemes or data security breaches to steal your identity. The latter recently happened to shoppers at several U.S. retailers including Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels.

    In fact, consumers across the country learned that, during the peak of the holiday shopping season last year, hackers carried out one of the biggest retail cyberattacks in history on Target. Roughly 40 million credit and debit card records were stolen, and the personal information of 70 million Target shoppers was compromised. Fortunately, Target has taken steps to alleviate the concerns of customers and provide some peace of mind. You can learn more about the retailer’s efforts, as well as the tips that my Office of Consumer Protection and I have put together to help keep you safe from identity thieves, in my column here.

    I also had the chance to share this important consumer information with radio listeners in the Lexington area this week. It was great catching up with Lee Cruse on WVLK, and I appreciate him having me on his show. On Monday, I’ll be discussing the recent news from my office with WKDZ in Cadiz and WAIN in Columbia.

    On Thursday, I had a nice visit with members of this year’s Leadership Northern Kentucky class. Among the many topics, we discussed the legislation I’m supporting to help fight the resurgence of heroin. I also enjoyed speaking with county judges from across the Commonwealth at the Kentucky County Judge Executives Association Winter Conference and sharing my vision of how we can work together to move our state forward.

    Next week, my office will be unveiling a newly designed website and PSA campaign created to benefit the Child Victims’ Trust Fund, which provides funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse prevention programs. Look for more details on both of these great initiatives in the coming days.

  • January 31

    On Tuesday, I filed a complaint in Franklin Circuit Court against Kentucky propane provider United Propane Gas, Inc. (UPG) for its alleged violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act. The complaint follows many phone calls to my office from farmers and residential UPG customers in Western Kentucky who, during the recent frigid weather conditions that our state has experienced, were exhausting their propane supplies. The customers became frustrated when they couldn't reach a UPG representative by phone or secure a waiver from the company, as Kentucky law requires, to get more propane from another supplier.

    My office worked with UPG to obtain a blanket waiver for its customers; however, when that waiver expired early Tuesday morning, UPG refused to extend it through early February despite our demands to do so considering the frigid temperatures and the company's lack of supply. Therefore, along with our complaint against UPG, we asked for, and were granted, a court order allowing customers of UPG and its 23 subsidiaries to secure propane from another supplier without a waiver until Feb. 3.

    While there has been a propane shortage nationwide, companies still have a responsibility to take care of their customers who need access to propane to heat their homes and run their businesses. Most companies in Kentucky, despite shortages, are working with customers to make partial deliveries or provide waivers. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for UPG.

    Customers who are unable to reach their supplier, obtain a release or obtain supply from another supplier should contact my office at rateintervention@ag.ky.gov or call the Propane Supply Complaint Hotline at 1-866-592-2556.

    The Capitol has been bustling this week with a number of school groups from across Kentucky interested in learning more about the inner workings of state government. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with students from Highlands Latin School on Wednesday. I also had a great discussion with a bright group of students from the University of Louisville Student Government's Cards in Action program about the importance of advocacy and higher education. I always enjoy meeting with young people who are passionate about education and public service. Pictures from both visits can be found on my Facebook page here.

    On Tuesday morning, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville. I hope you’ll tune in if you’re in those areas.

    Finally, please join Elizabeth and me in keeping the families of the nine victims who died in the horrific house fire in Muhlenberg County on Thursday in your thoughts and prayers. This tragedy took the lives of a mother and her eight young children, and it's important to remember their loved ones and community during this difficult time.

  • January 24

    I had a great opportunity this week to tape a public service announcement for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund (CVTF). The CVTF is a non-profit program that has provided funding for child sexual abuse prevention programs since 1985. You can help support the program through the Kentucky Income Tax Refund Check-Off campaign. Located in the "Fund Contributions" section of the Kentucky income tax form, the tax refund check-off allows Kentuckians to make a donation to the fund. You can also help by purchasing an "I Care About Kids" license plate. The Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board, which I chair, sponsors the specialty license plates, and the sale of the plates generates revenue for the CVTF. I hope you will consider making a donation to the fund this year. Your contribution goes a long way to ensure that the programs benefiting Kentucky’s most vulnerable children are funded. Also, be sure to watch for our PSA highlighting the importance of the CVTF, which will begin airing on TV stations across Kentucky very soon.

    The Child Victims’ Trust Fund PSA will also be posted on the Office of the Attorney General’s official YouTube channel, which you can visit here. On the website you’ll find press conferences, tapings from our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, the "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse" series and additional videos that reflect my commitment to standing up for Kentucky families. While you’re visiting the website, be sure to click the "Subscribe" box to stay up to date with all of the great work that continues in my office.

    Next week, I’ll be attending the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee’s second public meeting. I’m looking forward to another great discussion on how we can use the funding my office secured from two pharmaceutical lawsuits to best provide treatment to those living in our Commonwealth who so desperately need it.

    Finally, I hope everyone is keeping warm during this frigid weather. If you have to be outside in the cold, please take the proper precautions to stay safe. Help is also available for those experiencing hardship and needing assistance paying high heating bills. Visit the "Winter Heating" section of my website here to learn more.

  • January 17

    I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Northern Kentucky on Thursday to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the juniors and seniors at Campbell County High School. I want to thank Superintendent Glen Miller and Principal Renee Boots for allowing us to visit. Additionally, I appreciate the many community leaders and law enforcement officials who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the afternoon program. They joined me because they are concerned about substance abuse in our Commonwealth, and they are committed to battling this problem in their communities.

    If you’re unfamiliar with our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, I hope you’ll take the time to read the article that The Kentucky Enquirer’s Dave Malaska wrote following Thursday’s presentation. You can find it here. Prescription drug and heroin addictions are plaguing our state, and we’re not going to incarcerate our way out of this problem. My hope is that by educating our children, we can stop this disturbing trend.

    While in Northern Kentucky, I also met with area judges-executive and the Heroin Impact and Response Work Group to discuss ways to deal with this critical issue. When I announced this month that $32 million in settlement funds recovered by my office from two pharmaceutical companies would go toward expanding substance abuse treatment, I pledged that some of the money would be used in Northern Kentucky. I firmly believe that if we’re going to stop the cycle of addiction, we must increase access to treatment.

    Overseeing the settlement funding is the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair. Fellow members and I had a very productive conversation this morning during our first public meeting. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on future developments.

    Finally, I want to wish a very happy 72nd birthday to Muhammad Ali today. Muhammad is not only one of my heroes, he is a great friend.

     

  • 2014

  • January 10

    Earlier this week, my staff and I shared news of one of our proudest accomplishments since I was elected your Attorney General six years ago. I was thrilled to join Gov. Beshear, First Lady Beshear and House Speaker Stumbo on Monday as we announced that more than $32 million recovered by my office in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies will be used throughout Kentucky to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions.

    Stopping prescription drug abuse is one of my top priorities. I created Kentucky’s first statewide prescription drug abuse task force and helped craft landmark legislation that has shut down half of this state’s pain clinics. Still, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We must invest in education and treatment in order to stop the cycle of addiction that is plaguing our Commonwealth.

    According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Kentucky currently only has one-tenth of the treatment beds it needs. The funds from these settlements will help create a new treatment center for adults, treatment scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers, and expanded services for juveniles. This is a dream I’ve had for six years, and I’m so thankful it is now a reality. I firmly believe this historic investment will save lives in Kentucky.

    It’s great to see all of our lawmakers back to work in Frankfort this week. The 2014 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly gaveled in on Tuesday, and I’ll be supporting several pieces of proposed legislation, including bills that would protect consumers from identity theft and limit state financial aid dollars to some for-profit colleges, and legislation that would allow domestic violence laws to apply to couples who are dating. Additionally, last month, I was proud to join Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley in announcing bipartisan legislation that addresses an increase in heroin abuse and trafficking in communities across the Commonwealth and how we can fight it. You can read more about the bill in this month’s newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted online today and highlights some of the great work my office accomplished in December.

    Next week, I’ll be visiting Campbell County High School to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the juniors and seniors there. I always look forward to speaking with our students across the Commonwealth, encouraging them not to be the next generation lost to prescription pill abuse.

  • January 3

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. I am energized as we begin a new year of great work in the Office of the Attorney General, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished since I took office six years ago. My staff spent the past several months preparing our 2013 Biennial Report, which was delivered to Governor Beshear and members of the General Assembly earlier this week. The report, which can be found here, showcases the hard work and dedication from all us in the Office of the Attorney General as we strive to serve the citizens of this great Commonwealth to the best of our abilities.

    During this biennium, we continued our investigation into the questionable business practices of some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges, filing lawsuits against Daymar, National and Spencerian colleges. My Cybercrimes Unit seized more than 122,000 child porn images and videos from the Internet, and investigators from my Drug Investigations Branch targeted a myriad of unethical physicians who have diverted pharmaceutical drugs to the illicit market. Additionally, my office's Medicaid Fraud Unit successfully litigated and returned the Purdue Pharma case to Pike County, the epicenter of the prescription pill epidemic in the Commonwealth, and the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen named the Medicaid Fraud Unit one of the most aggressive in the country.

    Creating two scholarships for students who have been affected by prescription drug abuse is also one of our many accomplishments from 2013, and the deadline to apply is quickly approaching. The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah's mother and Michael's father now travel with me across Kentucky to help warn middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program. The scholarships, which are $1500 each, will help two seniors get a fresh start and a chance at completing their college education. Students should submit their scholarship applications to the Office of the Attorney General by January 15. You can learn additional details about the scholarships here

    Next week, we'll being taking our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message to Scott County Ninth Grade School for our first program of 2014. So far, we reached more than 30,000 students, teachers and parents with the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program since we began this initiative in late 2010, and I'm looking forward to visiting many more schools across Kentucky this year.

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