politics

Jacob Ryan

Gov. Matt Bevin delivered his second State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night. It marked the first time in state history a Republican governor of Kentucky addressed a joint session of a Republican-led legislature.

“It’s good to be here in Speaker Hoover’s House,” Bevin said at the beginning of his speech, referring to House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who now presides over the chamber after Republicans secured a majority of seats in the chamber for the first time since 1921.

Bevin touted recent legislation quickly passed last month by the Republican-dominated legislature, including a pair of anti-abortion bills, ‘right-to-work’ legislation and the repeal of higher wages for workers on state construction projects.

Anne Meadows/Creative Commons

U.S. Representative Thomas Massie, whose district includes Northern and Northeastern Kentucky, has introduced a one-sentence resolution to abolish the Department of Education.

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018,” is the extent of Massie’s bill.

The proposal came the same day as the confirmation of President Trump’s outsider pick for secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, a charter school and voucher advocate with little experience dealing with traditional public schools.

In an emailed statement about the bill, Massie said that “neither Congress nor the President should have constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”

Roxanne Scott

Hundreds of people gathered downtown Louisville Tuesday outside the office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to voice their opposition to the executive orders signed by President Donald Trump regarding refugees and immigrants.

Some also complain that McConnell is not listening to their concerns. McConnell told ABC last weekend that he doesn’t want to make a blanket criticism of the policy, but the government should be careful going forward.

I went to the “No Ban! No Wall!” rally site outside the federal courthouse to talk to participants and some passers-by.

Kentucky Governor to Stump for Gillespie in Virginia Race

Jan 31, 2017
WFPL

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is planning a visit to Virginia to help Republican Ed Gillespie's bid for governor.

Gillespie's campaign announced Tuesday that the two will campaign together in Lynchburg and Staunton on Feb. 9.

Bevin joins a growing list of current and former GOP governors supporting Gillespie. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is the party establishment's favorite in a four-way GOP primary contest.

The governor's race in Virginia is among the most closely watched contests in the country this year. Liberal groups have vowed to make it a referendum on President Donald Trump's first year in office.

Wikimedia Commons

Kentuckians were among the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled to Washington D.C. this weekend. Some attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and others were there for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, protesting Trump’s attitudes toward women and minorities.

As the first weekend of the new administration is in the books, I checked in with a couple Kentuckians who traveled to the events for very different reasons.

Wikimedia Commons

Women from across Kentucky are heading to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Women’s March On Washington, scheduled for Saturday, the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.

Lauren North, a co-organizer of a group of about 1,000 Kentuckians headed to the march, said she’s attending to present the concerns of women, minorities and the LGBTQ community to the new administration, which she says doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has selected 10 people to serve on the newly reconstructed University of Louisville Board of Trustees after the legislature abolished the previous board and created a new one earlier this year.

The move comes after the school’s accreditation was put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a result of Bevin’s unilateral overhaul of the board last summer.

Bevin announced by video Friday evening that he had chosen 10 trustees to serve on the new board.

“There is going to be the ability to transition as properly as possible in the days and weeks ahead,” Bevin said.

WKU Public Radio

Workers at unionized companies in Kentucky will be able to stop paying union dues or fees once contracts negotiated between their employers and unions expire.

The so-called “right-to-work” policy signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last weekend forbids payment of dues as a condition to get or keep a job in Kentucky, though current collective bargaining agreements between unions and companies are still enforceable until they expire.

Bill Londrigan, president of Kentucky’s AFL-CIO, said the new law will have a negative impact on labor organizations and companies once some workers decide they don’t want to pay into the union anymore.

J. Tyler Franklin

At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing a law they have railed against since the moment it was passed nearly seven years ago.

By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week.

The powerful tool sets up a fast track for repealing large parts of Barack Obama's major domestic achievement; the best guess is that the Senate is still several weeks away from largely repealing Obamacare. But as the process continues, large questions still loom over how — and when – Republicans will replace the healthcare law.

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will not defend the state if it is sued over a law passed by the state legislature last week banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But Beshear, the Kentucky’s top law enforcement official, said he would defend the state in a lawsuit against another new law requiring abortion doctors to narrate an ultrasound as they perform the procedure on women seeking abortions.

Both laws went into effect over the weekend after Gov. Matt Bevin signed the legislation during a speedy first-week of the newly Republican-led General Assembly.

McConnell Press Office

The Senate is set to hold confirmation hearings starting on Tuesday for several of President-elect Trump's Cabinet choices. Democrats say majority Republicans are jamming the nominees through — nine of them scheduled just this week — and that several of them haven't yet completed or submitted all of the financial disclosure and ethics paperwork required.

It's a big challenge since many of the Trump nominees are wealthy business people with complex financial dealings. The vetting process is complicated because each committee that holds a hearing for nominations has its own set of rules about the information it requires, and each has its own way of making that information public.

J. Tyler Franklin

House Republicans have advanced a bill that would ban mandatory labor union membership in Kentucky.

A House committee approved the bill Wednesday. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said lawmakers plan to approve the bill this week.

Hundreds of union workers packed the hallways outside of the committee room, chanting “working people matter” and “suits in there, boots out here.”

Creative Commons

Gov. Matt Bevin has reorganized the state’s agency for public defenders — attorneys who represent those charged with crimes who can’t afford legal representation.

The realignment of the Department for Public Advocacy creates three new trial offices by shifting employees and resources from existing offices in order to reduce travel time for public defenders.

Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan says the revamp will make the agency more efficient in the face of mounting caseloads.

Thinkstock

Hal Heiner, secretary of the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said a new free college tuition program would help people who have exited the labor force get back to work.

Gov. Matt Bevin created the program by executive order last week after vetoing a similar measure during this year’s legislative session.

The scholarship would be the “last dollar in” for students seeking two-year degrees at schools in Kentucky, paying for the rest of tuition and fee expenses not covered by federal financial aid.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The sponsor of a so-called “religious freedom” bill says it may have to wait until 2018. Laurel County Republican Senator Albert Robinson said the bill would have passed this year had it not been for House Democrats.

The religious freedom bill would prohibit the government from forcing businesses to serve individuals if doing so would violate the business owner’s religious beliefs. Supporters say the bill’s passage is important to protecting an individual’s right to live according to their religious beliefs. Opponents of the bill say it would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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