If Kentucky Republicans are sweating their party's U.S. Senate primary, they didn't show it Saturday night in Bowling Green.
At the 2014 Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, southern Kentucky Republicans rallied behind U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing a primary challenge by Tea Party activist Matt Bevin.
Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio he believes the GOP will be able to unite before the November general election. The Warren County Republican said it’s not the first time a well-known incumbent has faced a primary.
“Hopefully what you can do is that people can come back together," Guthrie said. "And that’s what you hope will happen—people will air out their views. You know, primaries can be tricky, there’s absolutely no doubt about it, because somebody’s going to win, and somebody’s not going to win.”
Senator McConnell took the stage Saturday night and told the audience that he believes he’ll return to Washington next year as Senate Majority Leader. Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to control the chamber.
A federal judge has given Kentucky until March 20 to implement his order granting legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II issued the order on Friday. As of March 20, the state must begin providing name changes, adoption forms listing both members of a same-sex couple as parents and other benefits of legal marriage.
On Thursday, Heyburn issued a final order overturning a voter-imposed ban on the recognition of same-sex unions in other states.
Jefferson County clerk's spokesman Nore Ghibaudy said that as of Friday, state officials had not been notified of the change in the law.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says that an idea by a Republican lawmaker to allow third-parties to appeal a federal ruling striking down Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage wouldn’t require a change in state law.
Sen. Dan Seum told Kentucky Public Radio that he plans to file a bill that would allow other groups to appeal a decision by federal Judge John Heyburn that the state must recognize same-sex marriage from out-of-state or from another country if Attorney General Jack Conway decides not to.
Stumbo, a former Attorney General, says that such a law likely wouldn’t be needed, as the current process would allow for other parties to intervene.
“The case is still alive, and the same rules apply. And so it would be within the discretion of the court to determine whether or not the court would believe it would be too late to allow that," added Stumbo.
Gov. Steve Beshear says such talk is “premature,” and that he and Conway will make a decision on whether to appeal “soon.”
The Kentucky House has passed a bill aimed at allowing domestic-violence victims to obtain temporary permits to carry concealed weapons.
Supporters say the 45-day permits would provide protection at a time when victims feel most threatened. Opponents replied that the guns would make those situations even more volatile. They also voiced concerns that temporary permits would be granted to people who haven't received training.
The measure cleared the House on a 79-13 vote Friday.
The bill would make the temporary concealed carry permits available to people who receive protective orders meant to keep their abusers away from them.
The bill's lead sponsor is Democratic Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah. The proposal now goes to the Senate, which is considering similar legislation.
(From left) Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, Dr. Sue Sisley of Arizona, and Michael Krawitz, founder of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, present a medical marijuana bill to the House Health and Welfare Committee.
The movement to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky made another leap forward on Thursday.
A House Health and Welfare Committee, packed to bursting with medical marijuana supporters, approved a bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It passed by a 9-5 partisan line vote, with Democrats voting in support of the measure.
The bill's primary sponsor, Re. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, is a retired nurse. She said the bill will help alleviate the the suffering of some patients without the need for costly medication and their potential for harmful side-effects.
"I've been a nurse forever, and we do give people just boatloads of medications that either don't work or they have tons of side-effects," Marzian said. "So if this is an answer to some of those diseases and conditions, then I think, 'Why don't we look at it?'"
A Republican state senator says he intends to file a bill that would permit a third-party to appeal a ruling that says Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Sen. Dan Seum tells Kentucky Public Radio that if Attorney General Jack Conway decides not to appeal a decision by Judge John Heyburn that nullifies the state’s ban on gay marriage, his bill would allow others to do so.
“We’re looking at the potential to file legislation that would allow some other group or some other person to intervene in the ruling other than the Attorney General," the Jefferson County Republican said. "Right now, as I understand it, only the Attorney General can intervene in this case, so we would maybe look at legislation that we could actually allow someone else to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Conway’s office says that the law doesn’t need to be changed and that Conway has defended the law appropriately to date.
Conway has asked for a 90-day stay to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling, which allows out-of-state same-sex couples to be legally recognized in the state of Kentucky.
A state lawmaker from Louisville says the issue of expanded gaming isn’t dead yet.
Rep. Larry Clark says that he met with representatives from five Kentucky racetracks and the head of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to allay concerns of the thoroughbred industry over a bill he has filed that would expand gaming in the commonwealth.
“We discussed a lot of issue that were on the table, and we resolved a lot of ‘em," the Jefferson County Democrat said. "They’re gonna be back with us Friday on some issues that we think are critical to passing a constitutional amendment and passing gaming but it was very productive today, one of the better meetings we’ve had in quite a few years.”
A similar bill filed in the Senate has been met with reluctance by Republican leadership in that chamber.
Former President Bill Clinton visited Louisville Tuesday to stump for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.
Grimes is running against Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a tight race, which is gaining national media attention. In recent weeks, she has put issues such as raising the minimum wage and closing the gender pay gap at the center of her candidacy.
Clinton says Grimes is a contrast with McConnell because she cares about rebuilding the middle-class and believes in compromise over gridlock.
The former President asked his audience if "we should stay with this model of constant conflict, which can generate unlimited amounts of special interest money to keep people stuck in their ideological ruts. Nothing good will happen except the people who are on the receiving end of the benefits may win one more election."
"But real people don’t win that way,” Clinton said.
Clinton also endorsed the Grimes campaign jobs plan, especially its ideas to get military veterans back to work.
The McConnell campaign says Grimes has yet to explain how much the jobs plan would cost and how she would pay for it.
A bill that would modify student assessments in Kentucky public schools has unanimously cleared a House committee.
The measure would permit schools under the Kentucky Department of Education’s districts of innovation to implement new testing methods to assess student performance.
Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent Donna Hargens testified before the House Education Committee Tuesday, saying that alternative assessments won’t be any less rigorous than current ones.
“I want you all to know that this will require more from the districts of innovation including additional development for teachers, more time to prepare assessments, more time to conduct authentic performance assessments, and require students to demonstrate mastery," explained Hargens.
The bill, filed by Louisville Rep. Larry Clark, would permit those schools to apply for waivers of current testing methods set forth by the innovation plan as long as they meet college and career-readiness requirements for students.
Seven school districts across the state participate in the plan, which was passed in 2012 by the General Assembly to give educators greater flexibility in turning around struggling schools.
Former President Bill Clinton will be in Kentucky Tuesday to help raise money for a U.S. Senate candidate.
Clinton will headline a lunchtime fundraiser at a Louisville hotel for Democrat Alison Lundergran Grimes. The cost of admission to the event at the Galt House is a contribution of $100-$5,200.
The Courier-Journal reports those who give one-thousand-dollars will get access to a rope line. Donors at the $2,600 level will also gain entry into a reception featuring Clinton, and $5,200 gets the donor a special commemorative gift.
Grimes and Clinton have a history. Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, is a longtime friend of the former President and was Kentucky chairman Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.