More than a third of Kentucky electric customers were without power at the peak of the massive ice storm that assaulted the commonwealth in January. According to figures compiled by the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC), a total of 769,353 customers were without power at the worst of the storm, making it the largest mass power outage in the history of the commonwealth. As a result, President Barack Obama has granted Gov. Steve Beshear’s request for a major disaster declaration for the commonwealth. Under a major disaster declaration, the federal government typically reimburses 75 percent of local and state governmental expenditures for items such as overtime for workers, debris removal equipment and the local purchase of generators, among other things.
The Kentucky General Assembly has passed a bill to increase taxes on tobacco products and alcohol. Under the plan, which goes into effect Apr. 1, cigarettes will be taxed at 60 cents per pack, snuff at 19 cents per tin and other tobacco products will see a 15 percent wholesale tax. Alcohol faces an 11 percent wholesale rate, but is exempt from the retail tax.