Politics

Politics
8:47 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Kentucky Baptist Leader Condemns Expanded Gambling

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is speaking out against expanded gambling in a new radio ad aimed at stirring grassroots opposition to legalizing casinos.

The ad is debuting Wednesday on Christian radio stations. 

It features the Baptist Convention's executive director, Paul Chitwood. He says casino operators want to "cash in on the misery" of others. He urges listeners to press their lawmakers to oppose expanded gambling.

Chitwood also makes his case in a video being sent to churches across the state.

The Baptist Convention's campaign comes as expanded gambling supporters are renewing their efforts in this year's General Assembly session.

Lawmakers are considering proposals that would let Kentucky voters decide whether to amend the state's constitution to legalize casinos. Supporters point to the revenue they say casinos would generate for the state.

Politics
8:37 am
Wed January 29, 2014

New PAC is Aimed at Helping Kentucky Republicans Win Control of State House

Hal Heiner

A newly-formed Super PAC will target Kentucky House races this fall in an effort to win a GOP majority in that chamber.

New Direction Kentucky is a nonprofit founded by former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, who is rumored to be a GOP contender for next year's governor’s race.

Currently, Democrats retain a narrow majority in the House, with 54 seats to the Republicans’ 46.

New Direction Kentucky spokesman Joe Burgan says the group will not directly give money to campaigns, but will raise funds to purchase ads in contested races come November.

“We will do grassroots work; we will do paid media; we will do earned media. So that’s TV, radio, mail. Working with the press. To really do everything we can to get these candidates across the line," Burgain said.

The group is comprised of business and political luminaries, including Humana founder David Jones.

Burgan did not say how much money the group intends to raise.

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Politics
3:15 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Wayne: Balancing Kentucky Budget Shouldn't Depend on Leveling Licensure Fees

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, discusses a bill up for consideration in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

The legislative scrutiny has begun for Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's proposed budget.

Some lawmakers are critical of the proposal for relying on professional license fees to balance the budget.

From barbers to doctors, blue and white-collar professionals in Kentucky must pay licensure fees in order to practice their given trade. Those fees then go back into funding and staffing the licensing board.

But Beshear’s budget proposal transfers about $370 million in surplus fees to the General Fund, creating a structural imbalance.

Rep. Jim Wayne calls that robbery.

“It puts the boards and commissions in a position where they have to raise the rates on people who are being regulated by their boards and commissions," the Louisville Democrat said. "So, if they don’t have the money to sustain them because it’s been robbed by the governor, they have to go back and then tax, in essence.”

Wayne says the practice has become so commonplace, it’s become a “new normal.”

Politics
8:38 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Beshear Snags Invitation to State of the Union Speech

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

Governor Steve Beshear has been invited to attend tonight’s State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C.  Beshear and his wife Jane will be guests of the President and Mrs. Obama. 

Beshear has been a leading advocate for the implementation of the controversial Affordable Care Act, but he dismisses critics who claim his support for the legislation has been purely about politics.

“If the president were a Republican, I would be going to Washington, D.C. to be honored and for Kentucky to be honored for the efforts that we’re making for our people on affordable healthcare,” said Beshear in an interview posted to his official video channel. “This is not political, as far as I’m concerned.”

Beshear says he thinks debate over the new healthcare law will die down by the time the November elections come around. 

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Politics
1:55 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Rand Paul Staffer Joins Matt Bevin Campaign

An aide to Sen. Rand Paul has joined Republican Matt Bevin's Senate campaign, saying the Louisville businessman is "the best man" in the race and offers needed change in his bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Bernie Kunkel will be the Bevin campaign's field director in the 4th Congressional District, which includes the urban counties just south of Cincinnati and has become a hotbed of Tea Party activity.

Kunkel had been Paul's field representative in the sprawling 4th District in Northern Kentucky.

Kunkel, a veteran GOP activist in the region, has helped a slew of Republican candidates at the city, state and federal levels, and has been active in promoting anti-abortion and school choice causes.

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Politics
8:53 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Kentucky's Senate Republicans File Amendment to Curb Governor's Power

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), converses with Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, on the floor of the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear created Kentucky’s health exchange and expanded Medicaid without legislative approval, but if Senate Republicans have their way, the governor will not have that luxury in the future. 

The GOP this session plans to push a constitutional amendment that would curtail the governor’s power to issue administrative regulations.  The legislation would keep a regulation from taking effect if lawmakers declared it deficient. 

A legislative subcommittee currently reviews regulations, but has no power to stop them from taking effect.  When asked if regulations should be implemented with full approval from the General Assembly, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he agreed with the concept.

"Allowing seven or eight people that authority is a bit problematic," Stumbo replied.  "Allowing the entire General Assembly that authority gives all of us a better sense of balance."

Governor Beshear told WKU Public Radio that he and future governors need to keep that power.

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Politics
2:47 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Should Kentucky Lawmakers Consider Marital Fidelity When Hiring Next LRC Director?

A Kentucky Representative wants to address the moral character of a top state employee.

The Legislative Research Commission provides a variety of services to the General Assembly. The agency's previous director retired last fall amid reports by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that he was having an extramarital affair with a subordinate who had received substantial pay raises.

Currently, lawmakers are considering a measure that would offer LRC employees a portion of any savings they can generate in the agency. But Representative Tom Riner has amended the legislation to address the moral character and marital fidelity of the next director of the LRC, who has yet to be hired.

Rep. Steve Riggs, the bill's original sponsor, says he agrees with the intent of Riner's amendment, but it can't be enforced as written.

“That one I told him we couldn’t do, cause we can’t prove or disprove fidelity," Riggs said. "We don’t have an investigation team to do that. His has been narrowed down to just deal with morality and ethics.”

The amended bill now awaits a second reading on the House floor.

Politics
2:03 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Former Aide to Tennessee Senator Hangs Himself

The Maryland medical examiner's office says a former aide to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander hanged himself in his parents' home, just weeks after his arrest on child pornography charges.

Spokesman Bruce Goldfarb says Ryan Loskarn was pronounced dead in Sykesville, Md., shortly after noon Thursday.

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office says family members reported finding Loskarn unresponsive in the basement where he had been living.

Loskarn had been allowed to live with his parents while awaiting trial on charges of possession and attempted distribution of child pornography. The 35-year-old also was required to be electronically monitored.

Loskarn had been the chief of staff for Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, for two years before his arrest. Loskarn was fired immediately after his arrest.

Politics
11:30 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Indiana Lawmakers to Weigh in on Industrial Hemp Crops

Hemp plants could start appearing in Indiana fields if a state Senate bill to allow growing the crop gains support from lawmakers.  The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Friday afternoon.

Indiana would need to apply for a federal permit to grow the crop that’s used to make paper, clothing and building materials. 

Hemp is similar to marijuana but has a much smaller amount of the latter’s psychoactive compound.  The bill also would declassify industrial hemp as marijuana in Indiana. 

Kentucky passed similar legislation to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp crops last year.

Politics
9:55 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Ex-Secretary of State is Finalist for Transy Post

Trey Grayson
Credit Harvard University Institute of Politics

Transylvania University has chosen four finalists for the school's presidency, including former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Also named as finalists Thursday are Sacred Heart University Arts and Sciences Dean Seamus Carey, University of Montevallo Senior Vice President for Administrative Affairs Michelle Johnston and American University Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Thomas Minar.

Grayson told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Transylvania alumni contacted him last year after Owen Williams announced he would leave at the end of this school year. University faculty overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence in Williams' leadership last June.

Grayson has been at The Institute of Politics at Harvard University since 2011 and says he has begun to realize that higher education is a passion for him.

The finalists will visit campus starting Sunday.

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