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MillerCoors has joined the so-called “beer battle” between Anheuser-Busch and craft brewers in the Kentucky General Assembly.

Craft brewers and local beer distributors support a bill that would forbid out-of-state brewers from owning beer distributors in the state. Breweries that make fewer than 25,000 barrels of beer per year are not allowed to own their own distributors under Kentucky law.

In a letter sent earlier this month to Speaker Greg Stumbo, who sponsored the bill, MillerCoors Vice President Timothy Scully threw his support behind the proposal. Scully wrote that the bill would create a level playing field for brewers doing business in Kentucky.

“This fair and equitable proposal ensures that all brewers can continue to enjoy open and fair competition when selling beer through an independent distribution system,” Scully wrote.

Office of Ky Governor

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the national Democratic Party is paying the price for not putting enough resources into winning Congressional and state legislative races.

Beshear made the comments over the weekend during the release of draft recommendations made by a task force charged with helping the party prepare for the 2016 election cycle.

Beshear is one of the 11 members of the task force, and says the Democratic National Committee needs to implement a “National Narrative Project” that will gather input from party leaders and members to create a “strong values-based national narrative that will engage, inspire, and motivate voters to identify with and support Democrats.”

Beshear also called upon the party to rebuild “its bench” by recruiting stronger candidates for state legislative seats over the next three election cycles, something he said would help Democrats influence the redrawing of Congressional districts after the next Census is completed.

All eyes are on Kentucky’s state senators to see if they’ll move on the House’s proposed statewide smoking ban.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, has said he doesn’t see support for the bill in the upper chamber.

“If there is, and individuals want to vote on it and can get committee votes and want to get it to the floor it will move in the normal and ordinary course,” Stivers said.

Supporters had initially hoped the bill would be assigned to the Health and Welfare committee, chaired by bill sponsor Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. However the legislation was assigned to the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, signaling there might be a tough road ahead for the smoking ban.

WKU

WKU is hosting a debate featuring Kentucky’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The event is being sponsored by the Kentucky chapter of the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by the billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch.

Other sponsors are the conservative political publication National Review, and the WKU Department of Political Science.

The event is being held at the Downing Student Union auditorium on the school’s campus April 28, and will focus on health care; taxes and spending; and jobs and the economy.

Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner, and Will T. Scott have confirmed they will attend the event.

Tickets to the debate are free and will be made available to the public beginning April 3.

Bill to Reduce State Debt Goes to the Full Kentucky Senate for a Third Time

Feb 20, 2015
Kentucky LRC

Legislation aimed at reducing Kentucky's debt is headed to the Senate floor. The measure seeks to lower overall debt over time. 

The bill limits general fund supported debt to 6 percent of general fund revenues. Sponsor Joe Bowen told budget committee members the state's current debt ratio is at 8.1 percent, including the state's participation in county courthouse construction borrowing. 

The Owensboro Republican used a well-known historical figure to further his argument.

"John Adams, one of our founding fathers said that there are only two ways to conquer and divide a nation," said Bowen. "One is by the sword and the other is by debt."

Lisa Autry

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer says passing a statewide right-to-work law would be his first priority if elected as Kentucky's next governor.

Comer, Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner and a Monroe County native,  predicts the issue will be hotly debated during the general election, given that Democratic front-runner Jack Conway opposes such a law.

Right-to-work laws prohibit private-sector workers from being forced to join labor unions. Critics maintain they’re being used as a tool to crush labor organizations and drive down workers’ wages.

Comer says becoming right-to-work would help Kentucky compete for jobs against its neighbors.

“If you want to be considered a business-friendly state, one of the first things you have to do in your state is become right-to-work," Comer says.

Several Kentucky counties have passed, or are in the process of passing, local right-to-work ordinances. Marshall County this week became the first county in the state to pass a resolution denouncing right-to-work measures.

Kentucky LRC

A Kentucky Senate bill that would require students to use bathrooms designated for their biological sexes failed to pass out of committee on Thursday. Transgender advocates oppose the bill because it would require students to either use the facilities of the sex they were born with, or use a single-person bathroom.

Henry Brousseau, a junior at Louisville Collegiate School, testified before the committee on Thursday. Brousseau, who is transgender, said problems arose with his use of a single-person bathroom.

“It didn’t go well because, for one, it was outing myself every time I had to walk in there because nobody else went in there,” Brousseau said. “People see that I’m not living like everybody else when I have to go to a separate restroom.”

Eventually, the private school allowed him to use the bathroom of his choice.

Jefferson County Public Schools allows schools to set their own restroom policies. Last year, the site-based decision making council at Louisville’s Atherton High School voted to allow students to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with.

Update at 3:05 pm:

The Kentucky House will not reconvene until Monday, Feb. 23, at 4 pm. A statement from House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the combination of snowy road conditions and extreme temperatures made travel to Frankfort too dangerous for the remainder of the week.

Original post:

Due to additional snowfall and concerns about hazardous road conditions, the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives will not convene Wednesday.

Wednesday's legislative committee meetings have also been canceled.

As of now, both chambers are scheduled to convene on Thursday, February 19, with the Senate going into session at 2 p.m. and the House at 4 p.m.

A published report says Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is eyeing April 7 as the date he will announce whether or not he’s running for president.

The story in The New York Times quoted anonymous sources close to the Bowling Green Republican as saying only family doubts regarding a run could keep Paul from entering the race.  If Paul officially enters the GOP primary field at such an early date, it would give him 10 months to raise money and hire staff ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

The report says Paul would most likely declare his White House bid in Kentucky, followed by a tour of states with early nominating contests, such as Iowa, New Hampsire, and South Carolina.

Paul has already announced plans to run for re-election to the Senate in 2016. Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from appearing on the same ballot for two different offices. Paul is actively lobbying the state Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in 2016 instead of the usual primary vote, which would allow him to simultaneously run for his Senate seat and president.

State House Democrats are pushing to make changes to the troubled Legislative Research Commission, as recommended in the draft of an audit of the state agency released last month. The report said staffers took issue with the LRC’s pay structure and hiring practices, which were described as opaque and unfair.

Rep. James Kay, a Democrat from Versailles and a former LRC staffer, filed a bill that would create a personnel policy for the LRC. During a recent committee hearing, Kay said the LRC has no such policy.

“The NCSL draft audit only confirmed what I hear at my House, in these halls, and I know from my own time working here,” Kay said.

The bill would establish a classification and compensation system for staffers and would require job openings to be posted online for 30 days.

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