politics

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.”

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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.

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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.

Kentucky LRC

Republican lawmakers will seek fixes to the state’s ailing pension systems during the upcoming legislative session. And with commanding majorities in both the state House and Senate, they won’t have to listen to Democrats if they don’t want to.

It’s also increasingly likely that Gov. Matt Bevin will call a special legislative session over the summer to address tax reform and pension issues, opening the door for deeper changes to the pension system.

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A Kentucky lawmaker wants to establish a minimum age at which juveniles could be held legally responsible for committing crimes.

The bill would set the minimum age of 11 years old for a criminal offense. Louisville Representative and bill sponsor Darryl Owens said that young children have not fully developed their impulse control or decision making skills, making them unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Ryland Barton

All eight of Kentucky’s electors have cast votes for Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who won the state’s popular vote in a landslide on Election Day.

About 75 anti-Trump protesters gathered on the state Capitol steps Monday morning to show their disapproval of the President-elect and try to get electors to change their votes.

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Anti-Trump demonstrators are planning to protest when Kentucky’s eight presidential electors meet on Monday to cast their Electoral College votes in Frankfort.

The group is part of the December 19 Coalition, an organization trying to get electors promised to Donald Trump on Election Day to become “faithless electors” by switching their votes or not voting at all.

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Kentucky’s top officials would be required to visit the farthest corners of the state before beginning their duties under a bill filed for the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Kenny Imes, a Republican from Murray, said the legislation would make the state’s top policymakers more aware of the state’s diverse needs.

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Republicans in Congress say they'll vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act early next year — even though they don't yet have a plan to replace it.

But they also insist that they don't want to harm any of the millions of people who got their health insurance under the law.

The lawmakers' strategy? Vote to repeal, and fulfill their top campaign pledge. But delay the changes, and keep running Obamacare for as long as two years while they figure out how to fill the hole they'll create in the insurance market.

Ryland Barton

After his first year in office, Gov. Matt Bevin says Kentucky is more united now than ever, pointing to Republicans’ recent dominance in elections across the state. “If you don’t think we’re uniting Kentucky, there’s never in the history of Kentucky been a Republican House, Senate and governor’s seat,” Bevin said.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Fresh off their historic wins in the General Assembly, Kentucky House Republicans are strategizing this week at a retreat in Bowling Green. The GOP caucus has 23 new members heading into the 2017 legislative session.  Republicans control thestate House for the first time since 1921, and maintain a comfortable majority in the Senate.

Kentucky LRC

The incoming GOP majority for the Kentucky House of Representatives has chosen 13 men and four women to lead standing committees that will decide what bills will be heard when the legislature convenes in January. Republicans won a majority in the state House last month for the first time in nearly 100 years.

McConnell Press Office

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has found a way to protect health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners whose benefits are set to expire at the end of the year. But Democrats say the solution offered by the Kentucky Republican is only temporary and does not protect pension benefits that also are at risk.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has become an outspoken assessor of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential nominees for secretary of state, going out of his way to criticize several candidates for their hawkish foreign policy views.

Paul, a non-interventionist who has clashed with his party on foreign policy issues during his first term in office, is in a rare position to influence who Trump taps to be the next secretary of state.

A nominee would have to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, with 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the panel, Paul represents a key swing vote.

So far, Paul has publicly stated that he would not support the nomination of former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, citing his support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s also cast doubts on the prospects of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, questioning the candidates’ views on foreign intervention.

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