Politics

Politics
8:42 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Grimes Wants Keystone Pipeline OK'd

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes called Wednesday on President Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline as she tries to defeat an incumbent Republican in the heart of coal country.

Grimes' statement to The Associated Press comes on the day a group committed to blocking the pipeline announced it will spend $500,000 setting up field offices in Kentucky to try to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Grimes has criticized the administration's energy policies before. But she had yet to take a position on the pipeline -- a key issue in Senate races pitting the value of economic development versus protecting the environment. Eleven incumbent Democrats wrote Obama earlier this month urging approval.

McConnell's campaign has criticized Grimes for not saying whether she supported the pipeline's construction.

Politics
3:04 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Rand Paul Plans New England Swing

Republican Rand Paul speaks following his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is headed back to New England. 

Republican Rand Paul will be in Massachusetts on Friday to speak at the Harvard Institute of

Politics.  The head of the institute is former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson who lost the GOP Senate nomination to Paul in 2010.

"We are pleased to welcome my fellow Kentuckian Senator Rand Paul to Harvard," Grayson said in a statement. "One of the most compelling people in politics right now, Senator Paul has appeal throughout many constituencies - including outside of the traditional Republican coalition and with younger voters in the millennial generation. We are looking forward to him engaging with our students and the Harvard community."

On Saturday, Senator Paul travels to Maine to speak at the Republican Party's state convention. 

The Bowling Green Republican is mulling a run for president, but he won’t make an announcement until after the November mid-term election.

Politics
5:40 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

2014 General Assembly Session in Review: Who Won? Who Lost?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul's appearance in Frankfort couldn't help push through a bill that would've restored voting rights for thousands of felons
Credit Kentucky LRC

By law, the only piece of legislation that the 2014  Kentucky General Assembly had to pass was a two-year state budget.

All else, as Will Rogers put it, is applesauce.

And with a session that began with a bang and ended with a whimper, it's what happened in between that House Speaker Greg Stumbo says lawmakers should be "proud" of.

Specifically, that they passed a compromised version of Gov. Steve Beshear's $20.3 billion state budget. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, however, took to the editorial page of The Courier-Journal to vent about what he dubbed a "lackluster" session.

But the truth probably lies somewhere between the extremes of "proud" and "lackluster."

Many political observers noted a reluctance among lawmakers to tackle controversial measures—chief among them tax reform—because of the impending November elections that will prove as a test for House Democrats to retain their slim eight-seat majority.

Here's a look at the winners, losers and downright lost causes of the 2014 General Assembly.

WINNERS

The coal industry—A slate of coal-friendly bills easily cleared the legislature, including one that allows coal-fired power plants in the state to regulate their own carbon emission standards at lower-than-federal-levels. Lawmakers also approved a bill that provides a new round of tax incentives for coal and coal-related industries to subsidize their purchase of new equipment.

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Politics
5:23 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Arnold Ethics Case Still Open

The ethics trial against former Kentucky legislator John Arnold may continue. Because the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission did not consider a motion to dismiss the case against the Sturgis Democrat in a hearing last week, the case may go forward.

The panel voted 4-1 last week to find Arnold guilty of ethics violations stemming from charges that he sexually harassed female state House staffers. Because nearly half of its members were absent for the hearing, and five votes were required for a motion to pass, Arnold was let off.

The commission will consider the issue at its next meeting on May 7th.

Politics
7:42 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Democrat Challenging for 2nd District U.S. House Seat Upset Over Income Inequality

Ron Leach is challenging Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie for Kentucky's 2nd district House seat
Credit Ron Leach campaign

The Democrat running for Kentucky’s Second District U.S. House seat says Congress should pass a federal minimum wage bill.

Ron Leach was in Glasgow Thursday, and told WKU Public Radio one of the biggest themes of this year’s election will be the growing income inequality seen throughout the nation in recent years. The retired U.S. Army Major says he’d like to see the minimum wage increased $10.10 an hour.

“There’s no excuse for anyone working full-time, 40 hours a week, living in poverty. So, beyond the minimum wage, we need to be looking at a living wage,” the Meade County Democrat said. “We have way too many folks out there working full-time or working multiple jobs, yet still qualify for federal assistance.”

Leach is running for the seat currently held by three-term Republican Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green. 

Leach attacked what he called “immoral levels of compensation at the top” while employees earn “poverty wages.”

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Politics
10:35 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Kentucky Senate Leaders Ask for Special Session on Heroin

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said he will ask Democratic Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session so lawmakers can strengthen penalties for heroin dealers.

The Kentucky General Assembly adjourned for the year at midnight Tuesday without passing a heroin bill that had the support of both parties and statewide elected officials.

A spokeswoman for Beshear said the governor was traveling on Wednesday and that it was too early to decide if a special session was needed. State officials estimate a special session would cost taxpayers about $60,000 per day.

The Senate passed a bill in January that would make high-volume heroin dealers serve longer sentences. It also would have required the state to pay substance abuse treatment and education programs. The House never voted on the bill.

Politics
12:17 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Senate Candidate Grimes Raises $2.7 Million in First Quarter

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes raised more money than Mitch McConnell in the past three months, but the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate still trails the Senate Republican leader by a 2-to-1 margin in available funds.

Grimes' campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said the campaign raised $2.7 million in the first quarter of 2014. McConnell's campaign reported Tuesday it raised $2.4 million in the first quarter.

McConnell has $10.4 million available to spend while Grimes has nearly $5 million available. Overall, McConnell has raised more than $22 million in his bid to win a sixth term in the Senate while Grimes -- who started raising money last year -- has raised $7.3 million.

Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin's campaign says it raised $1.1 million in the first quarter but did not say how much is available to spend.

Politics
3:30 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

McConnell, Bevin Raise $3.5 Million in 1st Quarter

Republican candidates for Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat raised a combined $3.5 million in the first three months of 2014.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell raised $2.4 million in what his campaign said was the most money the Republican leader has raised in his effort to win a sixth term in the United States Senate.

Matt Bevin, McConnell's Republican primary opponent, raised $1.1 million in the first quarter.

McConnell's campaign has $10.4 million left to spend of the $22.3 million they have raised this election cycle. Bevin's campaign declined to say how much money they have left to spend. Neither candidate's report is available yet on the Federal Election Commission's website.

The Republican primary is May 20.

Politics
3:17 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Kentucky's Public Health Chief Wants E-Cigs in Statewide Smoke-Free Law

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ceremonially signed a bill into law Monday that prohibits the sale of all types of  electronic cigarettes to minors.  Kentucky's public health commissioner sees the new law as a step in the right direction, but not enough.

Dr. Stephanie Mayfield hopes a statewide ban on smoking in public places clears the General Assembly next year and she wants e-cigs to be included.

"We don't know what's in them.  We do know if it's nicotine, that's addictive," says Mayfield.  "We know the effects of tobacco and smoke, and we know without it being regulated and exactly what's in it, we don't know what you're breathing and exposing others to."

Following a speech at WKU last week, Mayfield said a comprehensive smoke-free law would be the Department of Public Health’s chief legislative priority next year. 

This year’s legislation included e-cigarettes, though amendments were added to exempt them. 

E-cig supporters argue that the products allow users to decrease the amount of nicotine to a point where they may eventually quit smoking altogether. They also say the chemicals in e-cigs are safer than traditional cigarettes.

Politics
11:32 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Women Accusing Arnold of Sexual Harrassment Ask Commission to Reconsider Ethics Ruling

Former Union County Rep. John Arnold
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

Update 12:49 p.m.
(From Associated Press report) One dissenting vote last week spared former State Rep. John Arnold from any disciplinary action stemming from multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Now, lawmakers have taken action to try to prevent that from happening again.  

 The House voted Monday to change the rules for the ethics committee to require commission members to attend at least half of the meetings every year. The rules changes also gave the committee jurisdiction over former lawmakers.  The one commission member who voted not to punish Arnold last week says he did so because he felt the commission didn’t have the power to punish lawmakers who’d already resigned. 

Original Post

Two women who made formal sexual harassment complaints against former state Rep. John Arnold have filed a motion with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission asking it to reconsider its ruling that cleared Arnold of ethics charges.

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