Political news

"Regular order" is a phrase you'd normally hear only from Congress nerds, but it's increasingly common in conversations about the Senate this year.

When Mitch McConnell became Senate majority leader, he promised he'd restore what he called regular order in that chamber. But Democrats have been accusing him of violating regular order ever since.

When you listen to senators talk about regular order, it sounds like this fabulous, amazing thing. For Republican John McCain of Arizona, regular order is about getting stuff done.

A bill that would remove the requirement for telephone companies to offer basic landline services in Kentucky was approved by a House committee on Thursday.

This is the fourth consecutive year such a bill has been proposed.

Kentucky AT&T President Hood Harris said during a House committee hearing that the state has waited long enough to modernize its telecommunication laws.

Democrat Jack Conway Hires Campaign Manager for Governor

Feb 5, 2015
WKU Public Radio

Democrat Jack Conway has hired an experienced political operative to manage his 2015 campaign for governor.

It is the second Kentucky campaign for Adam Sullivan, who was the statewide field director in 2007 for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford. Lunsford lost to current Gov. Steve Beshear in the primary that year. But in a news release from the campaign, Beshear's 2011 campaign manager praised the hire and said Sullivan knows what it takes to win in Kentucky.

Conway said he hired Sullivan because he has a proven record of success. Sullivan most recently worked for former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and has four successful congressional races under his belt, including a campaign for now U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York.

Conway faces former congressional candidate Geoff Young in the May 19 primary.

While state lawmakers debate heroin legislation, a new poll finds 11% of Kentuckians have family members or friends who have suffered because of the drug.  That’s a two percent jump from 2013. 

The rate is much higher in northern Kentucky at 26%.  The poll was taken by The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  CEO Susan Zepeda encourages the General Assembly to pass heroin legislation this session.

"What this tells us is there's been a rise in heroin use," noted Zepeda.  "At the same time, prior legislation has contributed to the decline we're seeing in prescription drug abuse."

Prescription drug abuse in Kentucky has been on the decline since 2011.  That’s when lawmakers approved legislation cracking down on pain clinic and mandating that doctors use a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Governor Bill Haslam is unsure of his next steps after fellow Republicans swiftly defeated his Insure Tennessee proposal in the Legislature this week.

Speaking to reporters after the measure was defeated in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, the governor said: "I don't know what the next step looks like."

Haslam was seeking authorization from lawmakers to proceed with an agreement with the federal government to extend coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.

While the governor had the strong support of hospital and doctors associations and the state Chamber of Commerce, many Republicans remained unwilling to cast their votes in favor of a program funded through President Barack Obama's health care law.

Under the two-year pilot program, Tennessee stood to gain $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid money.

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill on the third day of the legislative session last month, but the House has yet to produce a bill this session addressing the state’s heroin problem.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, on Tuesday said he has issues with the upper chamber’s version—specifically, the bill’s provision to fund treatment programs.

“The Senate [version of the bill] spent money—and nobody is against rehabilitation—but the Senate spent money that wasn’t really there, and it’s kind of a bit of a false promise, I’m afraid,” Stumbo said

Lisa Autry

When you drive around Owensboro, you’re likely to get on the Wendell H. Ford Expressway, but talk to just about anyone and you’ll find his legacy runs much deeper in this community.

“He was like your favorite uncle,” recalls Fred Reeves, a former president of the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce.  “He was very personable, very humorous, and you always knew if you had an issue, you could call the senator and he would give that issue his attention.”

Despite his years living in Frankfort and Washington, Owensboro was always home to the former governor and U.S. Senator.  Wendell Ford held the city and its people close to his heart.  Fred Reeves remembers Ford for his compassion.

“I’ll never forget the day he called me and told me about a young lady, a single mom who had lost her job, and he asked me if I could help her find a job,” explains Reeves.  ‘How many senators would personally call you, dial the number themselves, and ask you to do something for an individual citizen who wasn’t an important person, someone who just had a need?’  That’s the kind of individual he was.”

Haslam Convenes Special Session on ACA

Feb 3, 2015

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans is needed to improve lives.

Haslam told lawmakers Monday night it's also needed to fix what Haslam calls a "broken health care system."

Haslam's plan calls on state hospitals to pay the $74 million state share to draw down $2.8 billion dollars in federal Medicaid money to offer coverage to more uninsured Tennesseans.

Under President Obama’s budget plan issued Monday, eastern Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia affected by the loss of coal jobs could be thrown a lifeline. 

The federal budget proposal contains $1 billion for redevelopment projects aimed at improving the economy of coal communities.  The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the White House budget also proposes spending $20 million to help laid-off miners find new work.  An additional $25 million is set aside for the Appalachian Regional Commission to help entrepreneurs in distressed coal areas.  The budget would infuse money into the under-funded United Mine Workers of America health and pension plans.