politics

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U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, has been elected to be the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee, putting him in line to chair the powerful committee if Democrats ever take control of the chamber again.

The position will be in the limelight as the committee will likely consider measures to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act early next year — a concept supported by Republican President-elect Donald Trump and Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate.

Yarmuth said he would use the position to promote Democratic stances on health policy and tax reform.

“We will be able through the debate on that budget to discuss the impact of Republican factions on the American people,” Yarmuth said. “Unlike in prior years when this was basically just kind of an academic exercise because the Republican budget was never going to be approved, this time it will have a real impact on the American people and that’s going to be our responsibility.”

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday said legislation wouldn’t help reduce surging gun violence in the state’s urban centers.

In response, Mayor Greg Fischer said he would continue pushing for state legislation that would allow cities like Louisville to adopt their own gun laws.

Speaking at a press event in Louisville Monday, Bevin said people who think “more government rules” can help put an end to shootings in Lexington and Louisville “are delusional,” according to a report from the Lexington Herald Leader.

Instead, Bevin said communities need to do “some serious soul searching” and “ask hard questions” to “heal [themselves] from within.” He declined to offer specific thoughts on what can be done to address gun violence in Kentucky’s largest cities but said it concerns him.

“This has to be addressed, it will be addressed, one way or the other,” he said. “This is something we will get to.”

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President-elect Donald Trump has named Elaine Chao to be secretary of the Department of Transportation. Chao previously served as secretary of the Labor Department under President George W. Bush and is married to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.

The position could be prominent in the first months of the new administration, when Trump has said he will make a major infrastructure proposal, including $1 trillion for roads, bridges and other public transportation projects.

Chao met with Trump last week in Trump Tower, at which time they “conversed about labor and transportation issues” according to the president-elect’s transition team. She was a member of Trump’s Asian Pacific Advisory Council during his campaign.

Chao is the first Asian-American appointed to a U.S. president’s cabinet; she was the only cabinet official to serve with President George W. Bush during all eight years of his tenure.

During her time as secretary of the Labor Department, Chao updated the rules that designate which workers are eligible for overtime pay, and tightened financial reporting requirements for unions.

Alix Mattingly

A state senator is planning to once again propose a bill during the upcoming legislative session that he says will protect religious freedoms.

The bill would nullify local “fairness” ordinances across the state that protect Kentuckians from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Though it has failed in recent years, the measure will have a better chance during the upcoming General Assembly when both the legislature and governor’s office will be controlled by Republicans for the first time in state history.

Sen. Al Robinson, a Republican from London and sponsor of the “religious freedom” bill in previous years, said he’s not concerned with backlash like North Carolina has seen after passing similar legislation.

“There’s more people that are backing down when they should not be backing down for the sake of the threats and the financial threats,” Robinson said. “And to me there’s some price that’s just not worth paying.”

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Some Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky want the legislature to allow Lexington and Louisville to pass gun control ordinances to help curb gun violence in the cities. State law currently bans cities from passing any type of law regulating guns or gun accessories.

Democratic Sen. Reggie Thomas filed a bill earlier this month to allow Lexington and Louisville to pass their own gun laws after the accidental shooting of 15-year-old Trinity Gay, daughter of Olympic track star and Lexington native Tyson Gay.

“Something has to be done to stop this. And my bill gives communities like Louisville and Lexington the opportunity to address this rampant and senseless gun violence,” Thomas said in a video promoting the legislation.

Over the years, legislators have passed several laws banning local governments from passing any type of law regulating firearms sales or possession restrictions.

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The Kentucky Board of Education is holding a special meeting Monday morning to study charter schools.

Such schools are similar to public schools in that they use public dollars and are funded based on student enrollment. They’re also controversial because they can be operated by nonprofit organizations, for-profit companies or groups of parents and teachers.

Kentucky is among a handful of states that don’t have charter schools.

But with Republicans now in full control of the state legislature that could change.

Legislation favoring charter schools has faltered in the state House, which was long-controlled by Democrats.

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One way Republicans on Capitol Hill say they know becoming the vice president-elect hasn’t changed Mike Pence: He hasn’t changed his phone number.

Pence recently met with House Republicans in a closed door session where, “He said, ‘Most of you have my cell phone,’ which he found out after the election,” laughed Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., one of Trump’s earliest allies in Congress. “He wants to encourage us to continue to reach out to him,” Barletta added.

Pence’s accessibility is a comfort to Republicans, who still view President-elect Donald Trump as a wild-card. When he takes the oath of office in January, Trump will be the most politically inexperienced man to ever enter the Oval Office. Trump has never served in government or had to cut a legislative deal.

But Pence is a familiar face on Capitol Hill, where he served for 12 years before becoming Indiana governor. At the same meeting, Pence told Republicans that while his role in Congress is now as president of the Senate, his heart remains in the House.

GOP Keeps Same Leadership Team in Kentucky Senate

Nov 22, 2016
Kentucky LRC

Republicans are keeping their same leadership team in the Kentucky Senate as the GOP prepares for a new era of complete control of the General Assembly.

Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester was re-elected by his fellow Republicans for the chamber's top position as leaders for the next two years were announced Monday.

Sen. David Givens of Greensburg was re-elected as Senate president pro tem.

GOP dominance in the chamber guarantees both will be officially chosen for the posts at the start of next year's legislative session.

J. Tyler Franklin

House Speaker-elect Jeff Hoover has recruited four Democrats and four Republicans to serve on his transition team as political control of the House changes for the first time in 95 years.

The team will help Hoover tweak the procedural rules of the House, which Hoover said marginalized the minority party when Democrats controlled the chamber.

“Just because you’re in the minority doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas or can’t contribute,” said Hoover. “I believe very strongly that you can have good ideas and you can contribute. And it’ll be my goal at every opportunity to be inclusive and to allow the process to work and that’s something I look forward to doing.”

Democrats controlled the House starting in 1922, but their majority dwindled in the chamber as the state turned increasingly Republican.

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says he spoke to Donald Trump Wednesday and congratulated the president-elect on his victory in Tuesday’s election. Republicans also maintained their majorities in the House and Senate.

McConnell says Trump’s victory came in a “stunning” election.

“And clearly an indication that the American people would like to try something new,” he says. “And I know the speaker shares my view that we would like to see the country go in a different direction and intend to work with him to change the course for America.”

McConnell says he expects Trump to act quickly in nominating someone to fill the Supreme Court vacancy and to initiate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

J. Tyler Franklin

The head of the Warren County Republican Party says his party’s huge gains in the state House are more evidence of how the GOP has expanded its influence in Kentucky.

Scott Lasley, who is also a political science professor at Western Kentucky University, says the 17 seats Republicans picked up Tuesday are the result of the party’s increased focus on selecting quality candidates.

He says the party is now competitive in parts of the state where it used to not even put up a challenger against Democratic incumbents

If you go back and look at the data and the evolution of open seat races and uncontested races, it’s always that you had a bunch of Democrats that are running uncontested. Now it’s a bunch of Republicans that are uncontested,” Lasley said.


J. Tyler Franklin

With Republicans in control of the state House, Senate and governor’s office, Kentuckians can expect a new push for conservative policies during the upcoming legislative session.

At the top of the list, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said on WHAS’ Leland Conway show Wednesday morning that he wants to pass so-called “right-to-work” legislation, repeal the prevailing wage on public works projects, revoke Common Core public school standards and allow charter schools in the state.

Bevin campaigned on the same issues during his race for governor last year, but soon-to-be-ousted Democrats leading the state House refused to take up the issues during his first year in office.

Now that Republicans control the chamber, House GOP leader Jeff Hoover wouldn’t say which specific policies his caucus would push for.

With New Majority, Bevin Vows Tax Reform in 2017

Nov 9, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said Kentucky's new Republican legislature would overhaul the state's tax code in 2017, but it would most likely have to happen in a special session.

Bevin told WHAS radio host Leland Conway that tax reform "will happen" in 2017, but said it is unrealistic to think the legislature can get it done in a 30-day session that begins in January. Bevin did not say what the new tax code would look like, but said he is open to eliminating the income tax.

Republicans won a majority in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday for the first time since 1920. Bevin vowed the new majority would pass a right-to-work law, reform the court system, pass school choice, repeal the prevailing wage and get rid of the Common Core educational standards.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton finds herself on the wrong end of an electoral split, moving ahead in the popular vote but losing to President-elect Donald Trump in the Electoral College, according to the latest numbers emerging Wednesday.

As of 10 a.m. ET, Clinton had amassed 59,299,381 votes nationally, to Trump's 59,135,740 — a margin of 163,641 that puts Clinton on track to become the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election.

Neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote — as of 10 a.m. ET, Clinton stood at 47.7 percent and Trump at 47.5 percent.

"Trump crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold at 2:31 a.m. ET with a victory in Wisconsin," NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

If the final tally follows the current trend, the result would mark the second time in the past 16 years that a Democrat has lost a national election while winning the popular vote. In 2000, Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote against George Bush, but he lost the presidency by five electoral votes in a hotly contested result.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, like the business career that preceded it, was unpredictable, undisciplined and unreliable. Despite those qualities — or perhaps, in part, because of them — it was also successful.

So what should we expect from President-elect Trump, mindful that his path to the White House has defied expectations at every turn?

Some of Trump’s ambitions have been clearly telegraphed: He plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, deport millions of criminal immigrants, unwind trade deals dating back more than two decades and repeal Obamacare. He’s also promised to cut taxes and eliminate numerous government regulations — including power plant rules designed to combat global warming.

With the presidential pen and a friendly Republican Congress, Trump should have little trouble delivering on those promises.

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