11:07 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Kentucky House Committee Turns Away Bill Changing Primary Election Law

A Kentucky House committee has rejected a measure that would change the way primary elections are held in the state.

Danville Republican Representative Mike Harmon’s bill would have allowed gubernatorial candidates to wait until after the primary before choosing the person who would run on their ticket as Lieutenant Governor.

The bill failed to make it out of the House Elections Committee. Two Democrats who withheld support for the measure say they did so because it didn’t include public financing for gubernatorial elections.

12:37 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky House Committee Passes Measure Restoring Voting Rights to Some Felons

A bill to would restore voting rights for non-violent felons has passed a Kentucky House committee.

The measure is Rep. Jesse Crenshaw's latest attempt to put approximately 130,000 felons back on the voting rolls.

Similar efforts have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Crenshaw, a Lexington Democrat, says he hopes that his bill will fare better this year due to support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

“I hope that he would, in fact, speak with those in the Senate and urge them to call it for a vote, in committee and on the floor. I hope that he would do that."

A spokesman for Sen. Paul says he plans to urge Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass the legislation, and will testify before an upcoming Senate committee on the issue.

Currently, felons must seek a restoration of Civil Rights from the governor to regain the right to vote. Beshear has granted nearly 8,000 restorations since taking office.

If passed, Crenshaw’s legislation would put the issue to voters on the November ballot.

11:10 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky House Floor Leader Supports Restoring Voting Rights to Some Felons

Jeff Hoover (right) has announced his support for allowing some felons to get their voting rights back.
Credit Kentucky LRC

A prominent Republican has stepped forward to promote a long-debated proposal that seeks to amend Kentucky's Constitution to restore voting rights for some felons.

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said Tuesday "it's a matter of fairness" to restore the voting rights of some felons of who have served their sentences and met conditions of probation.

The proposal championed by Democratic state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw easily cleared a House committee on Tuesday. Previous versions have passed the Democratic-led House but died in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Crenshaw says he has his "fingers crossed" that the Senate will approve the legislation.

The proposal would exclude people convicted of intentional murder, rape, sodomy or sex offenses with a minor from having their voting rights automatically restored.

The legislation is House Bill 70.

Read more
9:55 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Analysis: Majority of Kentucky's Congressional Members are Millionaires

Six of Kentucky’s eight members of Congress are millionaires, and an analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year also shows a Kentucky U.S. Senator and Congressman rank in the top 50 of most wealthy lawmakers.

Kentucky is far from alone when it comes to states with wealthy members of Congress. In fact, more than half of the U.S. Congressmen and Senators made the latest list of millionaires, the first time that has ever happened.

The analysis by the nonprofit Center of Responsive Politics shows that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Yarmuth are the wealthiest lawmakers in Kentucky. Records show McConnell has a net worth of $22.8 million; Yarmuth has $21.2 million.

Nationwide, McConnell ranks as the 37th wealthiest member of Congress, with Yarmuth 41st.

Congressmen Brett Guthrie, Ed Whitfield, Hal Rogers, and Thomas Massie also made the list of millionaires. That leaves Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Andy Barr as the only members of Kentucky’s delegation not on the list.

8:59 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky Senate President Has Budget Cuts in Mind, But Won't Name Specifics Yet

Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky’s highest ranking Republican lawmaker says he has identified areas of the budget he would like to cut, but he isn’t going to share them just yet.

Senate President Robert Stivers says he has some cuts in mind, but he hasn't discussed them with Gov. Steve Beshear or House Speaker Greg Stumbo. He and Stumbo have also downplayed the issue of structural imbalances in the state budget, which cause recurring shortfalls of millions of dollars.

“You can get into some more esoteric-type things where programs don’t get ramped up as fast, vacancy credits, things of that nature, personnel don’t get brought on as fast. And so there’s monies always captured in those areas," Stivers said. "And we are talking about substantial individuals, or substantial debt services, comes in to some pretty decent money sometimes.”

Stivers says that he will wait and see what Gov. Beshear will suggest next week before he discusses what programs he is willing to cut.

The State Office of the Budget Director has projected an estimated $3.6 billion spending gap between budget requests and the state’s general fund.

8:09 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky GOP Lawmaker Adds Language to Bill Defining Abortion as Form of Domestic Violence

A Republican lawmaker has amended a bill expanding domestic violence protections for dating couples to include language limiting abortions.

Rep. Joe Fischer of Ft. Thomas says he believes abortion is a form of domestic violence.

“The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children," the northern Kentucky Republican said. "And, this particular bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus feels pain, which is 20 weeks and older.”

The amendment will have to come up for inclusion on the House floor. It's likely to attract criticism from Democrats who will say it isn’t germane to the legislation.

The bulk of scientific literature on the subject suggests that fetuses do not feel pain before 24 weeks of gestation.

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a similar case today Monday regarding an Arizona law that would ban abortions at 20 weeks. That effectively preserved a previous ruling that the Arizona law was unconstitutional.

3:35 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Conservative PAC Opens Offices in Kentucky Ahead of Bevin-McConnell Contest

A national conservative group is opening five field offices in Kentucky in an effort to help Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin defeat incumbent U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in the May primary election. 

The Madison Project will staff Get Out the Vote offices in Louisville, Florence, Owensboro, Glasgow, and Bowling Green.  In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, the group’s political director Drew Ryun said those cities have traditionally been strongholds for Senator McConnell. 

Acknowledging that McConnell will have a powerful financial advantage over the Tea Party’s Matt Bevin, the PAC says it will rely more on a ground game.  The Madison Project played in a role in Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s upset win in 2012. 

A McConnell spokesperson the PAC had a failing strategy if its plan was to attack the five-term incumbent.

12:27 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Yonts Expressing Dissatisfaction with TVA's Decision-Making Process

Kentucky state Rep. Brent Yonts (D-Greenville)
Credit Kentucky LRC

Greenville Representative Brent Yonts has sent a letter to the President of the Tennessee Valley Authority voicing his dissatisfaction with the transparency of the company’s decisions. 

Yonts attended a November meeting of TVA board members to give testimony on the then-proposed closure of two units at the Paradise Steam plant in Muhlenberg County.

Yonts says as the meeting proceeded, it quickly became apparent board members only read from prepared motions and neglected to listen to or debate public comments before voting to close the plant.

“I just want to articulate to them that, as a representative in the Kentucky General Assembly, that I’m not happy with the way they treat such an important issue in Kentucky sort of in an isolated vacuum where they’re not sensitive to what the public thinks or the impact on the public which in this case will cause 2,700 jobs unless they’re absorbed into the regional economy," the Greenville Democrat said.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has also questioned the transparency of the TVA board meeting and sent his own letter last month.

Yonts says he’s requested data the board members reviewed as well as minutes from past meetings under the Freedom of Information Act and will decide if further action needs to be taken.

12:04 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

Miller Seeks to Increase Diversity of Kentucky Legislature

Black women haven’t been represented in the Kentucky legislature since 2000.

Louisville Democrat Ashley Miller wants to  change that.

The 30-year-old nurse practitioner is running for the House  seat held by Republican Julie Raque Adams, who’s running for state Senate.

“In a body that’s supposed to represent the people, we should truly represent the people," Miller said. "And I think the fact that there’s not a minority woman in the House at this moment changes the demographic, changes the perception of things when they come before the floor. So I think that’s important. It is important to have every voice heard.”

Miller has filed her papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office,  joined by members of the House Women’s Caucus, which intends to help Miller in her fundraising efforts, and Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson.

Republicans Phil Moffett and Shellie May are also running for the seat , and will face each other in the May primary.

3:13 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

State Senator from Western Kentucky Announces Retirement

Kentucky State Senator Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A state senator from western Kentucky plans to make the current legislative session his last.  Jerry Rhoads announced his retirement Friday. 

“Serving the people of the 6th District in the State Senate these past 12 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I will treasure the many friendships I have made throughout the counties I have represented in my three terms of service in the State Senate," said Rhoads in a written statement.  "After careful reflection, I have decided that with eight young, energetic grandchildren, it is time to step away from the hectic pace and demands of public service in order to spend more time with my family and pursue other life goals.”

Rhoads said he planned to remain active in his Madisonville law practice.

Rhoads’ announcement creates an open seat in Kentucky’s 6th Senate District, which represents Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio and Butler counties. 

Rhoads’ retirement leaves Morgantown Republican State Representative C.B. Embry the only candidate so far to file for the seat. 

The filing deadline is January 28th.