Politics

Political news

Perennial candidate Gatewood Galbraith died in 2012, but that might not stop his name from appearing on the 2015 ballot for Kentucky governor.

No, he's not running from beyond the grave.

Sixty-eight-year-old Terrill Wayne Newman of Pulaski County legally changed his name on Tuesday to Gatewood Galbraith before filing paperwork Wednesday to run as an independent for the state's highest office.

The Secretary of State's office says independent candidates must obtain 5,000 signatures from registered voters by Aug. 11 to get their names on the general election ballot.

Newman told the Lexington Herald-Leader he doesn't expect to be elected but, "I sure do hope this warms Gatewood's grave."

Galbraith ran for governor five times and gained a following for his wit and his stances on legalizing hemp and marijuana.

White House

Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway says he won’t be in Louisville Thursday when President Barack Obama visits the city.  Conway is only the latest Democratic candidate to attempt to avoid being tied to Obama.

Obama is unpopular in Kentucky, and has lost to his rivals here during the last two presidential races. Tying Democrats to the president and his policies has been part of the GOP strategy for the past few years, most recently in last year’s U.S. Senate race. During that campaign, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes famously refused to say whether she voted for Obama and ended up losing to incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell by a wide margin.

State Democrats like Grimes and Conway have found themselves in the awkward position of opposing the national Democratic platform and courting those who worry that the president’s environmental policies amount to a fatal blow to the already crippled coal industry. Conway has been working on that; in his capacity as Attorney General, he joined a multi-state lawsuit against the EPA’s proposed carbon regulations. Last week, Conway also received an endorsement from the United Mine Workers Association.

Conway will be in eastern Kentucky to discuss anti-drug efforts when Obama talks about the economy on Thursday in Louisville.

Other prominent Democratic candidates will miss Obama's visit this time.

State Auditor Adam Edelen says he will attend a fundraiser in eastern Kentucky. Attorney general candidate Andy Beshear will be meeting with law enforcement to talk about heroin abuse.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Carl&Tracy Gossett

A proposal to make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee is advancing in the state House despite constitutional questions raised by the state attorney general's office.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station was advanced on a 2-1 vote by the State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday. Rep. Bill Sanderson, the subcommittee's chairman, said a formal legal opinion has been requested from Attorney General Herbert Slatery.

But Sanderson said preliminary word is that the state's top attorney said the measure could be constitutionally suspect.

The Tennessee Constitution says "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship." Similar proposals to make the Bible the state book failed in Mississippi earlier this yearand in Louisiana last year.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The opposing sides of the 2015 beer battle topped the list of lobbying spending during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly, according recently released numbers from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

Spending reports only become available a month later because of filing deadlines.

Anheuser-Busch, Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth and Kentucky Beer Wholesalers were among the top-five spenders during the session, dropping a combined $483,830 on lobbying expenses and advertising in January and February.

Anheuser-Busch unsuccessfully fought against a bill that will forbid out-of-state beer brewers from owning distributors in the state. With the backing of craft beer and local distributors, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear in early March.

Both Anheuser-Busch and Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth aired TV and radio advertisements across the state, with AB over doubling KEG’s advertising dollars.

Anheuser-Busch says it will have to close the distributorships it owns in Louisville and Owensboro by the end of this year, but is still “reviewing its legal options,” saying that the law violates the Kentucky and U.S. Constitutions.

About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying in total. Here’s a rundown of the top spenders.

The culture wars are always percolating beneath the surface in presidential politics — until something or someone pushes them to the surface.

A religious freedom law, similar to the one that has recently drawn national attention in Indiana, has been on the books in Kentucky for two years and is currently being used as an argument to sue the state.

The proprietors of the Ark Encounter project in Northern Kentucky are suing state Tourism Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart and Gov. Steve Beshear for excluding the 500-foot-long Noah’s Ark replica from a tourism tax break.

In the lawsuit, the proprietors of the project, Answers in Genesis, say that the state discriminated against the ministry under the Kentucky Religious Freedom Act by pulling a promised $18 million in tax incentives.

The state withdrew funding, saying that public dollars couldn’t go to a project that hires employees based on religious background.

University of Kentucky law professor Scott Bauries said the religious freedom law allows the plaintiffs to argue that the state discriminated against them.

“Because the state of Kentucky seeks to hold them to a higher standard than what the ordinary anti-discrimination laws would hold them to—and because it doesn’t seek to do that with any non-religious employers—that it’s discriminating against them based on their religion,” Bauries said.

Under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, religious employers are allowed to hire “coreligionists” if doing so furthers the religious purpose of the organization.

Beshear Plays Both Sides of Gay Rights Debate

Mar 31, 2015

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Kentucky's religious freedom law similar to one signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week should be clarified to include protections for the LGBT community.

But the governor of this conservative state is also asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, highlighting the peculiar politics facing some southern Democrats fighting to maintain power in a region awash with Republican votes.

Kentucky's law protects a person's right to act or refuse to act as long as it is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief. Beshear vetoed the law but the legislature overrode him.

Last week, Beshear through his attorneys told the U.S. Supreme Court that Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban does not discriminate because it prevents straight and gay people from marrying someone of the same sex.

Kentucky Argues Gay Marriage Ban Not Biased

Mar 31, 2015

Governor Steve Beshear's administration is arguing in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that Kentucky's ban on gay marriage isn't discriminatory because it bars both gay and straight people from same-sex unions.

The brief argues that because Kentucky's law bars everyone from same-sex marriage, it isn't discriminatory and should be upheld.

Attorney Dan Canon, who represents six gay couples challenging Kentucky's gay marriage ban, told The Courier-Journal that the argument in the brief filed last week is "especially absurd."

Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said the governor would have no comment. He has said previously he favors a decision by the Supreme Court.

Justices will hear arguments on April 28 on state marriage bans from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

Former Lawmaker Asks for Trial to be Postponed

Mar 30, 2015
LRC Public Information

A former Kentucky lawmaker facing a bribery charge has asked that his trial be postponed following a guilty plea by a co-defendant.

Former state mine inspector Kelly Shortridge pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month to taking bribes from former lawmaker Keith Hall. The plea agreement said Shortridge, who worked for the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, took about $46,000 in bribes over two years from Hall, a coal mine owner who was also a state representative from Phelps.

The Appalachian News Express reports Hall's attorney, Brent Caldwell, filed a motion last week asking to reschedule the April 20 trial to a later date. Prosecutors have opposed the request.

Caldwell says he needs extra time to prepare after learning that prosecutors intend to call Shortridge to testify.

Comer to Announce Health Care Plan

Mar 30, 2015
Lisa Autry

Republican candidate for governor James Comer says he will reveal details of a health care plan on Monday that he says will move people off of Medicaid and into private insurance.

Kentucky was one of 28 states that decided to expand its Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. Nearly 400,000 people signed up for the expanded service, meaning about 25 percent of the state's population is now on Medicaid.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear says the expansion benefits the state by injecting billions of federal dollars into the economy and giving people access to health care, many of whom have never had insurance before. But Republicans worry about how much the state will have to pay for the expansion beginning in 2017.

The issue has become a focal point in the Republican primary for governor.

Pages