8:46 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Stumbo Reverses Course, Now Says He Supports Local Option Sales Tax Bill

House Speaker Greg Stumbo (left) came in for criticism from Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover (right).
Credit Kentucky LRC

A series of bills that would amend the state constitution and implement a local option sales tax to fund city and county projects has won support in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Thursday he now supports the bill following a conversation with Gov. Steve Beshear, and expects it to head to the House floor for a vote.

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins says the bill will likely be voted on Friday in order to give the Senate enough time to discuss it.

“I know that the issue is being worked right now, and don’t know myself … exactly where the vote count is, but I know there’s a lot of work going in by a lot of people to see if the votes are there to be able to bring it out here and debate it and see if it can more forward," said Adkins, a Democrat from Sandy Hook.

One House Republican had some strong words for Stumbo regarding his apparent about-face.

“It shows that he’s playing every side that he can," said Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover of Russell Springs. "He’s concerned about the political ramifications in November, and he’s playing every side that he can on every issue that he can and this is another example.”

If passed, the measure would go before voters this November, and would implement a 1 percent sales tax on top of Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax to fund local projects.

8:26 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Rand Paul Criticizes President, Others Over Spying

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke about domestic spying Thursday in California, territory less friendly to Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul assailed President Barack Obama and other government leaders over recent surveillance disclosures and called for a congressional investigation of possible spying abuses during a brief speech before cheering students at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Republican senator from Kentucky on Wednesday used his platform at the historically liberal campus to chide "the nation's first African-American president" for allowing the alleged spying abuses to occur with "no compunction," even though Martin Luther King Jr. and other black heroes were once targets of illegal government surveillance.

Paul also called for federal lawmakers to create a special committee to investigate allegations raised by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that CIA agents secretly searched Senate computers.

11:37 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Christie to Headline Tennessee GOP Dinner

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be in Nashville May 30.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the Tennessee Republican Party's annual fundraiser on May 30.

State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said the appearance will give voters a chance to form their own impressions about Christie as he considers a presidential bid.

Christie has been working to revive his image following a political retribution scandal in which his aides ordered the closing of lanes near New Jersey's George Washington Bridge.

Wednesday's announcement comes on the same day that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another potential Republican presidential candidate, was making an appearance in Nashville.

The Tennessee GOP event is chaired by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who cited Christie's electoral successes in a largely Democratic state and said the New Jersey governor "knows what it takes to lead."

4:32 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Effort Underway to Allow Elections Legalizing Alcohol by the Drink at State Parks, Golf Courses

Barren River Lake State Resort Park currently does not allow alcohol sales.
Credit Kentucky State Parks

A Kentucky House lawmaker is predicting the General Assembly will pass a bill allowing alcohol sales at many state parks.  

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark’s bill would give residents in precincts containing state park lodges or golf courses the ability to petition for an election allowing alcohol by the drink. Clark’s bill has passed out of a Senate committee, and the Louisville Democrat says Senate leaders have told him they believe the measure will make it through the legislature this session.

The Herald-Leader reports State Parks Commissioner and former Bowling Green mayor Elaine Walker said expanded alcohol sales at state parks and golf courses would be substantial.

The list of Kentucky State Resort Parks that do not serve alcohol includes Barren River Lake, Cumberland Falls,  Dale Hollow Lake, Pennyrile Forest, and Rough River Dam.

Opponents of the bill say alcohol sales would interfere with the family-friendly atmospheres found at Kentucky’s state parks.

3:25 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Kentucky Senate Passes Bill Allowing Rand Paul to Run for Two Offices at Same Time

A bill that would allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for both the Senate and the Presidency of the United States passed out of the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate Tuesday.

Senate Bill 205, sponsored by GOP Floor Leader Damon Thayer, would allow a candidate who is running for statewide election to also run for the office of the presidency or vice-presidency. It passed by a 25 to 13 vote.

Paul is widely considered to be front-runner for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016, when he is also up for re-election, but the Bowling Green Republican has not announced any specific plans.

Thayer's bill now heads to the House, where Speaker Greg Stumbo has laughed at the idea.

9:45 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Kentucky Senate OKs Bill Aimed at Attorney General

Kentucky senators have passed a bill related to the attorney general's decision not to appeal a ruling allowing state recognition of same-sex marriages.

The bill would allow the state Senate president or House speaker to intervene in a court case when the attorney general or governor fail to defend a state law or part of the state constitution. The measure passed 31-6 Monday and now goes to the House.

The measure is an outgrowth of a judge's decision overturning parts of Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban and Attorney General Jack Conway's decision not to appeal. Conway said appealing the case would be "defending discrimination."

As for the bill, Conway says the Senate should focus on creating jobs and improving education.

Governor Steve Beshear hired a private law firm to handle the appeal.

9:06 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Bevin Says McConnell Refuses to Debate Him

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin visited Bowling Green earlier this year.
Credit Abbey Oldham

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin says his opponent, incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to debate him.

Bevin’s camp announced today he has accepted KET's debate invitation  for April 21. Bevin, a Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist,  says the five-term senator won’t be there, however, because he doesn’t want to talk about the issues.

“I’d love to debate him, but he’s afraid to because he can’t defend his record and he has no vision for the future," Bevin said. "He can’t run on anything he’s done in the past. To me, there’s issues that matter.”

Calls to McConnell’s staff for comment were not immediately returned.

Bevin attended the Calloway County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner this weekend, but, unlike McConnell, was not invited to speak.

According to a Public Opinion Strategies poll released last week, McConnell leads Bevin 61 to 23 percent among likely Republican primary voters.

12:25 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Democrat Accuses Kentucky Republicans of Injecting 'Washington Style Politics' Into Budget Process

Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, presents the House version of the state budget before the Kentucky House.
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky Public Radio's Jonathan Meador reports on the House budget process

After much debate, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed its budget to fund state government for the next two years this week. The $20.3 billion spending plan is nearly identical to one proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear, and it largely preserves funding for K through 12 education, which has been a stated priority of the governor.

The sparring over the plan on the House floor could be a sign of things to come in November, when many lawmakers are up for re-election.

In a sprawling five-hour debate, House members argued over how best to spend the money of Kentucky taxpayers.

“Mr. Speaker, this is an important budget. And I think anyone who votes yes on this budget today can feel good about that vote,” said Rick Rand, Democratic House budget chair.

Rand sponsored a last-minute substitute to the budget that counteracted a slew of Republican amendments, including one from GOP Rep. Joe Fischer that would repeal the state’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and defund Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect.

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8:24 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Kentucky House Passes Budget Blueprint, with Vote Mostly Along Party Lines

Rep. Rick Rand (right) is chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky House has passed a $20 billion, two-year state budget that closely follows the governor's spending recommendations.

House members voted 53-46 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate. It was generally backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.

The plan would pump more money into the state's main funding formula for K-12 education.

State employees, teachers and other school workers would receive pay raises.

It targets spending cuts for an array of state agencies to free up money for schools.

Republicans complained the plan includes too much new spending and more bond payments to support projects.  

Budget committee Chairman Rick Rand said its priorities will improve lives.

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3:18 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Beshear Hires Private Legal Firm to Handle Appeal of Same Sex Marriage Ruling

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a $100,000 contract with a private law firm from Ashland to represent him in appealing a judge's decision allowing state recognition of same-sex marriages.

Beshear announced Thursday that the state reached the deal with the firm of VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann. The 11-member practice also has an office in Frankfort.

The attorneys will handle Beshear's appeal of a decision to overturn parts of a 2004 state constitutional amendment that barred recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.

Unless a federal appeals court steps in and halts the ruling, the state will have to start allowing same-sex couples to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky on March 20.

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