Political news

Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET Saturday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday even though he was on the doorstep of retiring and receiving his pension after two decades of service to the bureau.

President Trump responded on Twitter just after midnight Saturday, calling McCabe's firing "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."

Rhonda Miller

This week in Kentucky politics, students marched on the state Capitol to call for lawmakers to come up with solutions to school shootings; during a radio interview, Gov. Matt Bevin lashed out at teachers for protesting a plan that would take some of their retirement benefits away; and the pension bill that teachers have been protesting, well, it’s on life support.

Listen to this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled in the player below.

Students Push As Lawmakers Ponder Gun Safety Bills

12 hours ago
Nicole Erwin

In a recently released court video, Capt. Matt Hilbrecht of the Marshall County, Kentucky, Sheriff’s office testifies about his interrogation of Gabriel Parker, the 15-year-old accused of a mass shooting at Marshall County High School in January.

“We asked him initially when he had the thought of the school shooting,” Hilbrecht begins as he describes the events leading up to the shooting. The recording was released because Parker is being tried as an adult.

Hilbrecht explains how Parker got the 9mm pistol he would use to kill two teens and injure 17 others: Parker found it in his parents’ closet.

Wikimedia Commons

Two southern Kentucky teenagers are hosting what they’re billing as a bipartisan rally for gun law reform.

Palmer Lessenberry and Autumn Harlow are friends and Glasgow High School juniors who say that while they differ politically, they agree that Congress needs to act to address the number of school shootings in the U.S.

Lessenberry says Saturday’s event in Bowling Green will feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds who will talk about what they think should—and shouldn’t—be done to prevent future mass casualty shootings.

2015 Memo: Kentucky Lawmaker Accused of Improper Behavior

Mar 16, 2018
LRC Public Information

A 2015 memo from the former chief of staff of the Kentucky House Republican Caucus says a GOP lawmaker was accused of making "unwanted verbal advances" on a female courier.

The memo from Brad Metcalf says the woman filed a formal complaint against Rep. Jim Stewart with the Legislative Research Commission, the state agency that assists lawmakers with researching and writing legislation. The woman accused Stewart of making inappropriate comments to her calling her after work hours on her personal cell phone in 2015.

"The intensity of the inappropriate remarks has carried over into various public settings, and has led to a great deal of embarrassment on the part of the courier," Metcalf wrote in the memo.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Instead of tackling a comprehensive plan to reshuffle judgeships around Kentucky to alleviate overworked judges, the state legislature is poised to pass a more limited approach.

The changes would reallocate two judgeships from areas that have light caseloads and move them to areas with heavy caseloads.

Chief Justice John Minton said he would prefer more ambitious changes, but the compromise would still help courts with the most critical needs.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called teachers who oppose the Republican plan to overhaul the state’s pension systems “selfish,” saying it was “bizarre” that they would protest the proposal to cut their retirement benefits.

During an interview on WVLC radio in Campbellsville on Tuesday, Bevin compared protesting teachers to people who hoarded rationed goods during World War II.

Ryland Barton

The leader of the state Senate said there is a “limited and difficult path forward” for the Republican plan to overhaul the state’s pension systems because there isn’t enough support among lawmakers.

Senate President Robert Stivers also said that as a result, the Senate would likely not consider a bill to provide relief to local governments from ballooning contributions into the pension systems scheduled to begin in July.

Stivers said without structural changes to the pension system, the legislature can’t afford to let local governments pay less than already planned.

Kentucky LRC

A bill to outlaw most child marriages in Kentucky is one step away from final passage.

The measure was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It goes to the full House, and passage there without any changes would send it to Gov. Matt Bevin.

The bill would outlaw the marriage of anyone 16 and younger. Seventeen-year-olds could still get married, but they would need the approval of their parents and a judge.

Ryland Barton

Students from across Kentucky traveled to the state Capitol to rally against gun violence as part of demonstrations that took place across the country on Wednesday.

More than 40 students from Marshall County High School made the three-and-a-half hour trip to Frankfort.

Marshall County Junior Leighton Solomon was one of several students to speak at the rally. She called on lawmakers to put politics aside and come up with solutions to school violence.


U.S. Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose President Trump’s nominees for Secretary of State and CIA Director.

It didn’t take long for Paul, a Bowling Green Republican, to become the first GOP Senator to publicly oppose Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel.

Pompeo is the current CIA Director who President Trump nominated Tuesday to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Haspel is currently the second-in-command at the CIA, and has been nominated to replace Pompeo.

Nicole Erwin

In the wake of the January shooting at Marshall County High School, Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require schools to employ mental health professionals to recognize symptoms of trauma in students.

Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia whose district includes the high school, said the bill was “born out of tragedy.”

“But we firmly believe that if implemented, this piece of legislation would certainly spare us tragedy in the future,” Coursey said.

LRC Public Information

After Republican leaders of the state Senate scrapped a critical vote to change retirement benefits for public workers last week, it’s unclear when or if the legislation will come back up for a vote.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the bill’s supporters were working with members of the Senate and House to see “what can or cannot be changed to get votes in both chambers.”

Meanwhile, tensions have continued to rise over the bill after the no-vote, and teachers and state workers have continued to pack the state Capitol in protest of proposed reductions.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.

Teacher Discontent Swells in Kentucky Over Proposed Cuts to Benefits

Mar 13, 2018
Kentucky Education Association

Teacher Jessica Page was showing her central Kentucky elementary school students how to play the recorder last Friday while fearing the worst from state Senate deliberations in the capital city: lawmakers have begun considering potential reforms to the state's woefully underfunded public pension system, and cutting some benefits for retired teachers was among leading possibilities.

But instead, after hours of closed-door meetings punctuated by the chanting of hundreds of teachers protesting Friday at the Capitol, lawmakers backed down and sent the bill to a committee for possible changes. It was one of near daily protests that are continuing this week.