Political news

Ashley Lopez, WFPL

Kentucky’s case before the Supreme Court started with a conversation between attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott.

As they chatted in Fauver’s Louisville office, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation that was an obstacle to same-sex marriage being made legal in the U.S.

“We were waiting actually for the Supreme Court on the Windsor case and at that point we didn’t know what the ruling was going to be—and they kept postponing,” Fauver said.

“And we were talking about what would happen next, like would be the next steps for anybody to take,” she said. “And we were talking about the fact that someone should file a lawsuit here, and we checked around and no one was talking about it.”

That conversation would lead to lawsuits that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kentucky State Capitol Evacuated for Possible Fire

Apr 24, 2015

The Kentucky state Capitol was evacuated Friday morning for a possible fire.

Firefighters searched the building before allowing people back inside. State workers and several elementary school tour groups huddled outside under clear skies while emergency crews showed up in one fire truck and two ambulances.

The Capitol reopened after about 15 minutes. Fire officials said it was a false alarm.

James Comer leads all Republican candidates for governor with more than $800,000 raised from individual donors in the first four months of 2015.

But the state agriculture commissioner has been outspent nearly 3 to 1 by Hal Heiner, the former Louisville Metro councilman who loaned his campaign more than $4 million last summer. Louisville businessman Matt Bevin has also been a big spender, loaning his campaign $1.25 million after filing for office in January and spending more than $1 million, mostly on TV commercials.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott's report was not available.

Both Comer and Heiner have more than $1 million in the bank less than a month before the primary. Bevin has just over $286,000. The candidates are scheduled to appear together at the Rotary Club of Louisville on Thursday.

Rand Paul's Son Cited for DUI After Car Crash in Kentucky

Apr 22, 2015

A son of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has been cited for driving under the influence of alcohol in Kentucky.

Police in Lexington say William H. Paul was driving a 2006 Honda Ridgeline at 11:24 a.m. on Sunday when he crashed into the back of an unoccupied parked car. Some people nearby heard the crash and alerted authorities.

Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Paul was treated at the University of Kentucky hospital for minor injuries to his face. She said a police officer cited Paul for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failure of a nonowner/operator to maintain insurance.

Paul was alone at the time of the crash. He was not arrested, which Roberts said is standard for this type of case.

A campaign spokesman said Sen. Rand Paul does not comment on any private matters in regards to his family.

Pointing to strong tax collections, state budget officials say Kentucky will likely avoid another budget shortfall. 

Revenues are expected to increase more than three percent in the budget year that ends June 30.  The state ended the 2014 budget year $90 million shortfall. 

While the revenue picture this year is much brighter, House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards of Bowling Green says there are a lot of pent up needs.

"We've not be able to fund public education properly and we certainly haven't been able to fund our universities properly," Richards tells WKU Public Radio.  "The retirement systems are very challenging."

Starting in 2017, the state must also start contributing to the cost of expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. 

Despite more revenue, Richards says it will be difficult to balance all the needs as lawmakers form a new two-year budget next session.

Kentucky's four Republican candidates for governor will meet on statewide television one week before the May 19 primary.

KET's "Kentucky Tonight" program will host the four Republican candidates for governor at 8 p.m. EDT May 11 for what could be the only statewide televised debate before the primary. Host Bill Goodman will quiz Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.

The candidates' running mates will debate on a separate program one week earlier.

Democratic candidate Geoff Young will appear on the program next Monday along with running mate Jonathan Masters. Attorney General Jack Conway will not participate. Conway leads Young by a wide margin in fundraising and public polling.

Kentucky’s Republican elected officials in Washington are asking Republican candidates for governor to unite behind whoever’s elected in the primary next month.

The GOP nominee will likely face off against Attorney General Jack Conway, who doesn’t have serious competition in the Democratic primary.

In a letter signed by Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as well as four Republican members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, the candidates were asked to show up to an event in Lexington a week and a half after the May 19th primary.

Louisville businessmen Hal Heiner and Matt Bevin as well as Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott are all seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

The candidates are working to set themselves apart from one another ahead of the primary election, which historically has low voter turnout.

Kentucky’s May 19 primary is a few weeks away, but for some, voting is already underway. 

Eligible voters can cast mail-in absentee ballots anytime between now Election Day.  Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says absentee voters must have an excuse to vote early.

"We have absentee voting available for individuals who are going to be out of the county on election day because of work, military and overseas voters, individuals who need to vote because of age, disability, or illness," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.

A complete list of eligible absentee voters is available at elect.ky.gov.

Voters can request an absentee ballot application from their county clerk in person or by phone, fax, or email.  Applications must be received by May 12 and the completed absentee ballot must be received by the county clerk's office by 6:00 p.m. local time on election day.

Under a new law, the identities of absentee voters will not be disclosed until after the election.  In the past, absentee ballot application were subject to open records requests, making those voters susceptible to attempts to purchase their votes.

Photo by WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham

Kelley Paul says she'll use her background as a political consultant to provide behind-the-scenes support to husband Rand's 2016 Republican presidential bid.

She said in an interview in South Carolina on Thursday she doesn't plan to have a front office at campaign headquarters but to help her husband with speechwriting and getting his message out.

Kelley Paul sat down with The Associated Press in Charleston during her first solo campaign swing to early-voting South Carolina. She's also promoting her recent book.

The mother of three has long supported Rand Paul's political operation in significant if not always visible ways. But in recent months she's been thrust into a far more public role.

Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator, announced his candidacy last week.

Kentuckians have only a few more days to register to vote in next month’s primary election. 

Voters will pick the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor, as well as the other constitutional offices. 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says Monday, April 20 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 19 primary.

"Go online to elect.ky.gov.  There, you can check your registration status to make sure you are registered," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.  "If you aren't registered, you can download the registration form to make sure you have that sent in time for our deadline."

Kentucky has 3.1 million registered voters.  Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 450,000.