U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has picked up endorsements from nearly all state-level Republican lawmakers in Kentucky.
The McConnell campaign announced the endorsements on Monday from 64 of Kentucky's 68 Republicans serving in the Legislature.
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said the lawmakers will help establish a campaign operation covering all 120 Kentucky counties. Their endorsements, Benton said, shows that the Kentucky GOP is unified heading into next year's Senate election.
Among the lawmakers making endorsements was Senate President Robert Stivers who said McConnell's leadership is needed to "fight against big government and get our fiscal house in order." House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover also endorsed, calling McConnell "a tireless advocate for our conservative values."
McConnell doesn't yet have a major challenger to his re-election. The filing deadline is next January.
U.S. officials have confirmed that Sgt. Michael C. Cable, 26, of Philpot was killed Wednesday when he was stabbed in the neck by an Afghan teenager in eastern Afghanistan.
The killing comes as the monthly U.S. death toll rose sharply in March to 14 with the start of the spring fighting season when the Taliban and other insurgents take advantage of improved weather to step up attacks.
Cable was guarding Afghan and U.S. officials meeting in a province near the border with Pakistan when the stabbing occurred, two senior U.S. officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The attack occurred after the soldiers had secured the area for the meeting, but one of the U.S. officials said the youth was not believed to have been a member of the Afghan security forces or in uniform so it was not being classified as an insider attack.
The official said the attacker was thought to be about 16 years old, but the age couldn't be verified.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced that he won't pursue expanding the state's Medicaid program to help cover the uninsured as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Haslam told a joint session of state lawmakers Wednesday that he decided not to do that because he prefers a third option to use federal money to subsidize private insurance. The federal government hasn't accepted that proposal.
Expanding TennCare, the state's Medicaid program, had been estimated to cover roughly 140,000 of Tennessee's nearly 1 million uninsured residents and bring in $1.4 billion in federal money.
Haslam is among the last of the Republican governors to declare a decision on expansion. Both the health care program and President Barack Obama are widely unpopular in the highly Republican state.
A Christians-only health care plan would be allowed to resume operations in Kentucky under a measure approved by the House on Tuesday.
The House passed the measure 88-8 on Tuesday, sending it back to the Senate for final passage.
The proposal would exempt the Medi-Share ministry from state insurance regulations. A Franklin County circuit judge ordered the ministry to shut down last year at the Kentucky Insurance Department's request. The bill in its current form would require members to sign a notice acknowledging they're aware they may not have their claims paid.
The plan resembles secular insurance in some ways but only allows participation by people who pledge to live Christian lives with no smoking, drinking, using drugs or having sex outside of marriage.
Lawmakers have a deal in the works to shore up the financially troubled pension plan for government retirees.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Monday the proposal will be presented privately to lawmakers and then released publicly.
Gov. Steve Beshear is expected to personally present the offer to House Democrats Monday afternoon.
Restoring solvency to the pension system, which has a $33 billion unfunded liability, has been divisive for the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-led House that have been working on the issue since the Legislature convened in January.
The Senate has been insisting on a 401(k)-like retirement plan for new employees - a move the House opposes. And the House has pushed a plan that would use money from the lottery and horse tracks to generate more money for pensions.
New data shows Kentucky children are healthier on average than children across the nation.
Numbers released last week by the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health show 85.5% of Kentucky children were in very good or excellent health for a period covering 2011-2012. Nationwide, that number was 84.2%.
The percentage of Kentucky children who received preventive dental care came in below the nationwide average, with 75.5%. Nationwide, 77.2% of children received preventive dental health care.
The data also shows that just 41% of Kentucky children live in neighborhoods with a park, sidewalks, a library and a community center. That compares with 54% of children nationwide.
The Data Resource Center gathers data for the National Center for Health Statistics.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday with two days remaining to pass legislation intended to shore up Kentucky's pension plans for state and local government retirees.
Restoring solvency to the pension system, which has a $33 billion unfunded liability, has been divisive for the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-led House, which have been working on the issue since the Legislature convened in January.
Rep. Tommy Turner, R-Somerset, said he expects lawmakers to meet until midnight both days.
"The last few days have historically been the busiest," Turner said. "I don't know why, but we always seem to wait until the last days, until time is running out, to get things done."
James Monroe has rebuilt a log cabin on the site where his father, bluegrass icon Bill Monroe, once lived and plans to open it to the public.
Monroe told the Messenger-Inquirer that the Ohio County cabin is complete and will open on Thursday at noon with festivities that include barbeque and bluegrass music by an assortment of performers.
The two-room cabin is basically a replica of one that belonged to his great uncle, James Pendleton Vandiver, and was made famous in a song by his father called "Uncle Pen." Bill Monroe went to live with his uncle at the age of 16 after his parents died.
James Monroe said the cabin was the last place his father lived in Kentucky, and he thinks bluegrass fans would be interested in seeing it.
Kentucky may find out Monday if the state can resume carrying out death sentences. A hearing will be held in Frankfort on the state’s request to lift an order barring executions.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd halted all executions in 2010 after finding issues with Kentucky’s three-drug method for lethal injections. Attorney for death row inmates argued the three drugs caused an unnecessary risk of pain.
Earlier this year, the state switched to one or two drugs, depending upon the availability of the drugs.
Governor Beshear has requests to set execution dates for condemned inmates Robert Foley and Ralph Baze, but the governor has given no indication if or when he will act on those requests should the injunction be lifted.
Kentucky has executed three inmates since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976. The last was in 2008.