politics

Sen. Rand Paul stopped at a Louisville Goodwill on Friday to talk about ways to help people with criminal records return to the workforce.

Paul has made criminal justice reform a key initiative during his time in Washington, though the Senate hasn’t passed any major proposals.

Goodwill operates programs that help people with criminal records enter the workforce. On Friday Goodwill and KentuckianaWorks presented their “Re-Entry By Design” program, which helps people on probation or parole put together resumes, prepare for interviews and ultimately find a job.

At the event, Paul said family values-oriented Republicans should logically support legislation that helps people find work despite their criminal records.

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While Republicans and Democrats differ wildly on firearms issues in Congress, opposition to gun control measures transcends political parties in Kentucky.

Like most mass-shootings in recent history, the Orlando rampage that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub provoked cries for limiting access to guns.

In Kentucky, State Rep.-elect Attica Scott called for a ban on assault weapons, registering firearms and allowing local governments to pass their own gun laws.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo — the leader of the Democratically-led chamber that Scott is about to join — opposes the proposals.

“After 36 years in public office, I still have a 100 percent voting record in support of the Second Amendment and the NRA,” Stumbo said in a statement provided to Kentucky Public Radio. “As tragic as the events in Orlando were, I think these changes would be an over-reaction.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Over the past few days, top Republicans have given hints that they are considering some gun control measures in the wake of the mass-shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. That’s a sea change for GOP leaders who have typically blocked any new restrictions on gun ownership, citing Second Amendment rights.

The chief proposals include gun-purchasing restrictions for those on the FBI terrorist watch list and expanding background checks for gun buyers.

On Tuesday, several media outlets quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he was “open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful.”

And on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates say heated political rhetoric and policies dealing with sexual orientation in recent years are partly to blame for violence like the Orlando shootings at an LGBT night club.

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, said the rhetoric has created an atmosphere that allowed the shooting to happen.

“I feel like everyone who has stood against LGBT rights is in a way complicit in the atmosphere that’s been created that suggests LGBT people are ‘less than,’ that they deserve to be victims of violence or prejudice or discrimination,” Hartman said.

Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. Authorities are still investigating the motive of the attacks and whether the rampage was fueled by Islamic extremism, homophobia or some combination.

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has followed through on some principles laid out in his recent autobiography — rebuking GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump for comments made against a federal judge of Mexican descent.

In his book “The Long Game,” McConnell underscores his support for civil rights, saying he withdrew his support for Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election because of the Arizona senator’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act.

At a Washington press conference on Tuesday, McConnell told reporters that he disapproved of Trump’s comments against the judge.

“It’s time to stop attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country,” McConnell said.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

While some of Washington's most prominent Republican leaders are still struggling over whether to endorse Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the call to do so last month — as soon as Trump became the likely nominee.

In fact, for all the talk of the GOP's upheaval, the Kentucky Republican says he doesn't think a Trump nomination will redefine the Republican Party in any substantial way. The party is now at "an all-time high," he said.

McConnell spoke to Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about what he sees for the future of the GOP — as well as why he approves of Trump's Supreme Court picks and stance on border security, but thinks the candidate's proposed Muslim ban is a "very bad idea."

Interview Highlights

On Trump's picks for the next Supreme Court nominee

The single most important thing I would remind right-of-center voters in suggesting that they vote for Donald Trump is: Who do you want to make the next Supreme Court appointment? Donald Trump has already put out a list of 10 or 11 right-of-center, well-qualified judges, a list from which he would pick. I think that issue alone should comfort people in voting for Donald Trump for president.

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This election has brought a bitter primary season: candidates at each other's throats; a Democratic Party in crisis. But it's nothing new.

Eight years ago, the Democratic Party was recovering after a brutal primary between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Now, the party has found itself in a similar place.

This week on For the Record: Lessons learned from the 2008 Democratic primary, with two political operatives who lived through it.

Back then, Mo Elleithee and Bill Burton were each fighting for a potentially historic win in camps that got increasingly competitive.

Julian Castro to Speak at Wendell Ford Dinner in Kentucky

May 26, 2016
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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro will be the featured speaker at the annual Wendell Ford dinner sponsored by the Kentucky Democratic Party.

The June 3 dinner at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville is the official start of the Kentucky Democratic Convention, where party leaders will select delegates to the national convention this summer.

Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio. He was the keynote speaker for the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hillary Clinton, who leads Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, is considering Castro as a potential running mate in the fall.

Polling Places Open on Kentucky's Primary Election Day

May 17, 2016
Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Polling places for the primary election have opened in Kentucky as light rain falls across much of the state.

The forecast called for widespread showers early Tuesday and scattered showers later in the day with high temperatures reaching to about 60 degrees.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has said she expects voter turnout to reach about 20 percent for the primary election. The ballot includes a host of local, state and federal races.

The top race for Democrats is presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republicans held a presidential caucus in March, which was won by Donald Trump.

Other major races on the ballot include seats for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the state House. Voters can cast ballots until 6 p.m. local time.

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Kentucky Democrats will decide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election, and members from both parties will vote in elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and state House. Some state Senate districts will also be on the ballot.

Republicans won’t vote for president because in March the party conducted a caucus election, which Donald Trump won handily.

Voter turnout is expected to be low on Tuesday — about 20 percent, according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She says Republicans might be less inclined to show up to the polls since their presidential contest has already taken place.

Here’s a look at the federal offices on the ballot and the candidates running for them.

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Four Republicans are vying to be the chosen “Washington outsider” in the primary race for U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield’s Western Kentucky district, which he has represented in Congress since 1994. But it appears the real horse race is between just two.

After losing to now-Gov. Matt Bevin in last year’s primary race, former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has the financial edge despite an early fundraising lead by Mike Pape, Whitfield’s longtime district director. Also running are Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts and Trigg County farmer Miles Caughey.

Scott Jennings, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, says Comer has a name recognition advantage in the race after his high-profile gubernatorial bid.

“To build up name ID is not an easy thing, and it takes time and it takes money, and this was not the kind of campaign that was probably conducive to building that sort of name ID that would’ve helped Pape or Batts catch up to Comer,” he says.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Gov. Matt Bevin, saying that he improperly vetoed several bills passed during this year’s legislative session.

Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, questioned the validity of vetoes to six bills, including line-item vetoes to the state budget, which he says were improperly delivered and signed.

He also says Bevin violated the constitution by not including “veto messages” that explain the rationale for several line-item vetoes to the state budget.

“The constitution clearly states that the message shall be accompanied with the veto so that people understand why or what his reasoning was when vetoing that particular part or parts of the appropriation bill,” he said.

If Stumbo’s suit is successful, Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget would be reversed, meaning free preschool would be expanded from 160 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and $840,000 would be set aside for the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation and $7.5 million for indigent care in Jefferson County.

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With the first three months of lobbyist reports in for this year’s legislative session, it looks like total spending will easily surpass the previous record.

According to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, business, organizations and legislative agents spent $7.5 million lobbying lawmakers in the first quarter of this year.

The spending pattern is on track to exceed the previous record of $8.8 million set in 2012, once totals from April are accounted for.

The top spender was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $120,426 pushing issues like the local option sales tax, public-private partnerships, tort reform and felony expungement. The organization also spent $9,202 on radio advertising in favor of a pension transparency bill that did not pass.

Darron Cummings/AP

Ahead of the potentially pivotal Indiana primary Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced he will be voting for Republican candidate Ted Cruz.

"This is a time for choosing," Pence said on WIBC radio in Indianapolis. He called Cruz, a senator from Texas, a "principled conservative" who "stood up for taxpayers" in fighting spending in Washington, said he was "very impressed" with his "knowledge and devotion" to the Constitution and his "strong, unwavering stand" against abortion rights.

But Pence seemed to go out of his way to praise Republican front-runner Donald Trump. He also stressed that his endorsement was not intended to sway the votes of Indiana Republicans.

"I respect the right of every Hoosier in making their determination," Pence said, adding, "I encourage everyone to make up their own mind."

In fact, Pence mentioned Trump before mentioning his endorsement of Cruz.

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The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has plans to visit Kentucky this week.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Chelsea Clinton will visit Lexington to help open the Hillary for Kentucky Lexington office in her mother's Democratic presidential campaign.

The event is to start at 10:15 a.m. Friday at 1301 Winchester Road.

She is attending a private fundraiser later Friday at the Frankfort home of former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and her husband, Lynn Luallen.

Kentucky's primary election is May 17.

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