politics

AP Interview: McConnell Warns Republicans On Health Bill

Mar 22, 2017
Abbey Oldham

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned fellow Republicans Tuesday of political consequences if they oppose health care legislation coming up for a vote in the House this week.

“I would hate to be a Republican whose vote prevented us from keeping the commitment we’ve made to the American people for almost 10 years now” to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Kentucky Republican told Associated Press reporters and editors in an interview.

“I think the American people would be deeply disappointed that we were prevented from keeping our commitment by Republicans who in the end, in effect, voted for the status quo.”

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL News

President Donald Trump will host a rally at Freedom Hall in Louisville Monday.

The event comes as the White House continues to pitch the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A Gallup poll released over the weekend shows the president’s approval rating hitting a new low. According to the poll of 1,500 adults across the country, 37 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president compared to 58 percent who disapprove.

Concerns over the repeal and replace plan have mounted after the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 24 million people would lose health coverage over the next decade under the proposal.

J. Tyler Franklin

With the General Assembly on break for a 10-day “veto period,” Gov. Matt Bevin has begun signing a flurry of bills into law.

Among new laws that will take effect July 1 are a requirement that malpractice claims be evaluated by a “medical review panel” before they head to court; legislation clarifying that religious expression is allowed in public schools; and a measure allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain teaching certificates without taking a test.

Bevin has signed 24 bills into law so far this year, 11 of which were approved Thursday.

Here are some of the new laws:

J. Tyler Franklin

State lawmakers are expected to consider a flurry of legislation over the next days as time runs out on this year’s General Assembly.

Bills dealing with charter schools, reducing criminal recidivism and new driver’s license security requirements are among the weightiest pieces of legislation scheduled to be taken up.

Legislators will also consider a measure that would base funding for state universities and technical colleges on areas such as graduation rates and numbers of degrees or credit hours earned.

Lawmakers will meet Tuesday and Wednesday before a designated 10-day break for the governor to veto legislation. Then on March 29 and 30, the legislature will have the opportunity to override vetoes or try and pass more bills.

Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Louisville next Monday. The announcement comes days after Vice President Mike Pence visited the city as he promoted the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The White House has been putting pressure on conservative lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who oppose the repeal and replace plan.

Notice of the event was sent out by Trump’s campaign committee, not the White House. The rally will be the third campaign-style event Trump has held since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

Ryland Barton

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Louisville Saturday to pitch the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“The Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” Pence said before a crowd of about 150 business owners.

The visit came as President Trump tries to rally support for the plan, especially among conservatives like Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who favors an outright repeal of Obamacare.

“Folks, let me be clear,” Pence said. “This is going to be a battle in Washington D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all we need every Republican in Congress and we’re counting on Kentucky.”

For Kentucky Voters, A Familiar Fight: Trump vs. Paul

Mar 10, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Duard Rutledge voted for Donald Trump and Rand Paul for the same reason: They’re not afraid of a fight.

That’s why the 66-year-old retired Toyota worker wasn’t worried to see Kentucky’s junior senator getting in the way of the Republican plan to replace Obama’s health care law.

“When you get two thoroughbreds, they are high strung,” he said. “But if you get them headed the right way they can both win the race.”

Paul has been one of the most vocal Senate critics of the GOP plan to replace the federal Affordable Care Act, even before he knew what was in it. Last week, he hauled a copy machine outside of the room where House Republicans were writing the bill and asked for a copy, highlighting the secrecy surrounding the proposal. Since then, he has declared the plan dead, calling it “Obamacare lite.”

Pence to Visit Louisville to Promote Health Plan

Mar 9, 2017
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday as he tries to make the case for repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama's health care law.

Pence is set to appear with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin at the event in the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has been a critic of the health care legislation backed by President Donald Trump and Pence.

Pence was in Ohio and Wisconsin last week in support of the repeal.

Jonese Franklin

UPDATE: President Donald Trump will not be coming to Kentucky this weekend, despite earlier reports saying he would.

Trump’s travel plans for the weekend have not yet been finalized, according to a White House official, but there aren’t plans to come to Louisville despite earlier reports that the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a “VIP Movement Notification” for Louisville — an alert that has preceded previous Trump visits across the country.

Elena Elisseeva/123rf Stock Photo

What supporters call a “Freedom of Religious Expression” bill is before Kentucky House members and likely to get a vote this week. The bill already won overwhelming approval in the Senate. 

Senate Bill 17 spells out permission for school students to voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints In school assignments or activities.

Elizabethtown Representative Tim Moore carried the bill in the House Education Committee. “Students have the same religious liberty to express their viewpoint at school that they do anywhere else. That doesn’t infringe on anyone. That just allows each individual to express their viewpoint and to be people of faith wherever they go," Moore said.

Stephen George

After President Donald Trump cited Gov. Matt Bevin’s claim that the Affordable Care Act is “unsustainable and collapsing” in Kentucky during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear delivered the official Democratic response: Don’t dismantle Obamacare.

“You and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who most need it,” Beshear said during his speech, which was broadcast from a diner in Lexington.

“Does the Affordable Care Act need some repairs? Sure it does,” Beshear said. “But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.”

Mitch McConnell Interrupted as Trump Protests Continue

Feb 23, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Two protesters interrupted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's speech Thursday before a suit-and-tie crowd at a local chamber of commerce luncheon in northern Kentucky to demand he speak with them.

McConnell has made three days of public appearances in Kentucky that required attendees to have tickets. Both protesters, who did not identify themselves, were quickly escorted out of the room. McConnell quipped, "I see we're having multiple speakers today," before continuing his speech.

Afterward, McConnell told reporters he is listening to what the protesters have to say, but he said they have a fundamental disagreement. He defended their right to protest.

Hundreds of protesters have greeted McConnell this week. Many, including 35-year-old Steve Felix of Highland Heights, held signs demanding Republicans back off plans to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act. McConnell vowed Congress would repeal the law "this year."

screenshot

Gov. Matt Bevin said he’s been impressed with Trump’s picks for cabinet positions and is encouraged by the administration’s pledge to cut federal regulations.

Bevin took part in a panel discussion Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC in Washington.

He also touted his own initiative to cut bureaucratic red tape in Frankfort.

“We’ve pledged to cutting 30 percent of all the red tape in Kentucky in the next three years,” Bevin said. “We have 130,000 rules. Pretty confident that we can govern everybody with 90-something-thousand.”

Ryland Barton

Opponents flooded a town hall event held by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Mt. Sterling early Wednesday morning. The group booed, shouted down and at times hissed at Kentucky’s 6th district congressman over his stances on cutting corporate taxes, repealing the Affordable Care Act and scaling back the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group also criticized Barr for not holding a town hall event in the largest city in Barr’s district — Lexington.

“If he’s off all week, why can’t he have more and have them in some larger towns,” asked Jessie Bollinger, a social worker from Lexington after the event. “I think he’s trying to avoid our voices. Because our voices were pretty strong here in this little small courtroom.”

Kentucky LRC

People convicted of crimes could no longer be automatically denied an occupational license issued by the state under sweeping reforms proposed by Republican leaders.

Senate Bill 120 says a hiring or licensing authority cannot disqualify a person solely because of a criminal conviction, unless the board makes a connection between the conviction and the license being sought. The bill would also give the person the right to a formal hearing and the ability to appeal the decision to the circuit court.

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