Kentucky Lawmakers Push Big Ideas Amid Meager Finances

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - One lawmaker proposes to criminalize consensual sex between teachers and older teens. Another wants to allow active-duty soldiers who are at least 18 to legally buy and drink alcohol.

Those and hundreds of other issues will be on the table when the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 8. But with the state facing one of the bleakest financial outlooks in recent history, the state budget is certain to be the overshadowing topic in the legislative session.

House Speaker Jody Richards said he can't remember a more financially difficult year in Kentucky. Shortfalls have been popping up in a variety of state programs.

And Gov. Steve Beshear plans to propose a number of budget cuts later this week.

Beshear is pushing a proposal that would allow voters to change the constitution to legalize casino gambling. The new governor says casinos could generate about $500 million a year in extra tax revenue for state government.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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