politics

Flickr/Creative Commons/my_southborough

Local groups are coming together to oppose a pending “anti-gang” bill and they are urging state lawmakers to kill the measure before the legislative session ends Saturday.

The bill, introduced Jan. 10, stiffens penalties for those engaging in gang activity or for committing a crime as part of a gang. The measure has passed the House and could be approved by the Senate as soon as Friday.

Teachers in Arizona are staging what they're calling a walk-in today. They're asking lawmakers for a 20 percent pay raise and for school funding to return to pre-recession levels. This comes as teachers in Oklahoma continue their walk-out. After more than a week of protests and dozens of closed schools across the state, Oklahoma lawmakers have already agreed to increase teacher pay and school funding.

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate Committee on Wednesday, he led off with a mea culpa. Just a few paragraphs into his opening statement, he took personal responsibility for the disinformation:

Kentucky Teachers Plan Another Rally for Education Funding

Apr 11, 2018
Ryland Barton

Kentucky teachers who rallied last week at the state Capitol to support education funding plan to be there again Friday when state lawmakers reconvene to consider overriding the Republican governor's veto of budget and revenue measures.

The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents has encouraged local school leaders statewide to send delegations to the rally in Frankfort, said Tom Shelton, the group's executive director. Shelton acknowledged Tuesday that "closing school may be necessary if they have too many staff absent, but that is a local decision."

J. Tyler Franklin

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover has admitted that he violated state ethics rules by exchanging sexually charged text messages with a legislative staffer who used to work for him.

The admission came as part of a settlement approved by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, which also fined Hoover $1,000 but did not recommend that he be kicked out of the state House of Representatives.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin says it would be “irresponsible” for teachers in Kentucky to strike a week after thousands of educators descended on Frankfort to protest pension and education cuts.

Though state law doesn’t allow teachers to strike in Kentucky, the Jefferson County Teachers Association has called for educators to take a personal day on Friday to protest Bevin’s vetoes to the budget and tax reform bills passed by the legislature.

Updated at 10:18 a.m. ET

As allegations continue to swirl about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sexual encounter, evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June, four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting tell NPR.

Roxanne Scott

Dan Brennan has a hunch why some public service workers — like public school teachers — aren’t paid well.

“People could call it a calling and say ‘because it’s a calling, we don’t have to pay you that well,’” Brennan, a music teacher from Eastern Kentucky, said. “We don’t have to compensate you that well …you’d do it anyway.”

Brennan was one of the thousands who came to the Capitol on Monday to protest cuts to education funding as well as a change to the state’s pension system. Last Thursday night, lawmakers passed a last-minute pension overhaul. It would cap the amount of sick days that teachers could use towards retirement.

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

China's leaders followed President Trump in taking another step toward a new trade war, announcing a plan to put steep tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. imports. China's proposed 25 percent tariffs would target a wide range of American products, from soybeans and whiskey to airplanes and cars.

"China currently buys about $14 billion worth of American soybeans each year — almost a third of the entire U.S. crop," NPR's Dan Charles reports for our Newscast unit. "Prices for U.S. soybeans tumbled by 3 to 5 percent" on the news, Dan adds.

Creative Commons

The opening of charter schools in Kentucky could be delayed if a two-year budget passed this week by the General Assembly is signed by Governor Bevin.

The spending plan contains no funding for charters, which operate with greater independence than traditional schools and with a different level of accountability. 

Lawmakers approved the creation of charter schools in last year’s legislative session.  The state then began accepting applications with a goal of having some of the alternative public schools operating by this fall.

LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission voted to dismiss ethics charges brought against three Republican state representatives, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show that the men broke ethics rules by secretly signing a sexual harassment settlement with a former staffer.

But the commission did not dismiss a complaint filed against former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who also signed the settlement.

Becca Schimmel

The U.S. Senate Majority Leader is maintaining his position related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky visited Bowling Green and Western Kentucky University Monday, and sat down for an interview with WKU Public Radio.

McConnell hasn’t said much publicly about Mueller’s investigation. But the little he’s said has been consistent—that Mueller should be left free to do his job.


J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature has passed a new two-year state budget that cuts much of state government in order to put more money into the state’s ailing pension systems.

But lawmakers also approved about $680 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax to 17 services ranging from auto repair to country club memberships and raising the tax on cigarettes.

Thinkstock

Update: The Kentucky Senate has approved a $480 million tax increase by voting to expand the state sales tax to a variety of services.

The Senate voted 20-18 to send the bill to the House of Representatives, which also plans to vote on the measure Monday.

Senate Democrats objected because they said they were shut out of the process and did not have time to read the bill. Republicans said the bill had to pass Monday to preserve their right to overturn any vetoes from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Ryland Barton

Thousands of Kentucky teachers filled the streets near the state Capitol in Frankfurt on Monday to rally for education funding.

Teachers and other school employees gathered outside the Kentucky Education Association a couple of blocks from the Capitol chanting "Stop the war on public education" and holding or posting signs that say "We've Had Enough."

"We're madder than hornets, and the hornets are swarming today," said Claudette Green, a retired teacher and principal.

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