Politics

Politics
3:36 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

McConnell, Grimes React to Minimum Wage Analysis

The presumed front runners in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race have different reactions to a Congressional Budget Office report on raising the minimum age. 

The non-partisan CBO report suggests that increasing the federal minimum wage would raise earnings for more than 16.5 million people, but it would also reduce employment by roughly 500,000 workers. 

The analysis comes as the Senate prepares to debate a gradual increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour in 2016. 

The Senate’s leading Republican Mitch McConnell has made his opposition to a minimum wage hike a talking point in his re-election campaign.

He released a statement saying the report “spelled out some of the dire consequences of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ blind allegiance to Barack Obama’s agenda.” 

Grimes’ is the leading Democratic candidate in the race for McConnell’s seat.  Her campaign manager Jonathan Hurst didn’t respond to the CBO findings, and instead, referenced a study by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy that claims a minimum wage increase would lift the pay of one in four Kentuckians and create 2,200 jobs.

Energy
3:13 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Rep. Yonts Meets With TVA Officials, Will Continue Inquiry Into Board Transparency

State Rep. Brent Yonts (R-Greenville)
Credit Kentucky LRC

A Kentucky state legislator says he’s continuing his inquiry into Tennessee Valley Authority board meeting procedures a month after requesting documents from the company.

State Representative Brent Yonts (D-Greenville) attended a TVA board meeting in November where members voted to shutter some generating units at the Paradise Steam Plant in Muhlenberg County. 

Yonts said he was flabbergasted to see the processes on which the TVA Board conducts its meetings. 

Yonts said the vote to close the units came with no debate or meaningful discussion other than a vote based upon a motion prepared by someone other than the board members.  

In January, Yonts sent a letter to the TVA criticizing the board’s lack of transparency and requested several documents from the company under the Freedom of Information Act including previous board meeting minutes and the data the board based its decisions on.

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Politics
11:32 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Legislation Asks Kentucky Governor, Attorney General to Appeal Same-Sex Ruling

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A central Kentucky lawmaker has filed a bill urging the governor and attorney general to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. 

Republican Representative Tim Moore of Elizabethtown says voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 that recognizes marriage between one man and one woman. 

"The laws of other states or the ruling of a federal court should not trump the will of a majority of Kentuckians," adds Moore. 

Alison Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway, says the office will not have a response until a final order has been issued in the case.

Governor Beshear has said he thinks the issue will ultimately by decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Politics
7:58 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Stumbo Backs Bill Banning Workplace Discrimination for Groups Including LGBT Community

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has cosponsored a bill that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.

Stumbo is one of 18 cosponsors backing the proposed legislation filed by Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian.

The House Speaker says that his support for fairness coincides with his duty to uphold the constitution.

“I’ve never stood by and allowed people’s rights to be trampled in that manner. I don’t believe in it. I believe the constitution is exactly what it is: It requires that everybody be treated the same way regardless of your creed, color, national origin or sexual preference.”

Stumbo says that he thinks there’s increased support in his chamber for the bill compared to previous years.

Politics
2:28 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Former Kentucky Pension Trustee Sounding Alarm on Funding Shortfalls Facing KERS, KTRS

The cover of Chris Tobe's book, Kentucky Fried Pensions

Chris Tobe's interview with WKU Public Radio about the harsh reality facing Kentucky's pension programs

Chris Tobe is a man who is currently playing the role of “bearer of bad news.”

He worked as a trustee with the Kentucky Retirement Systems from 2008 to 2012, where he got an up-close-and-personal look at how the state’s pension systems were being underfunded. Tobe is also the author of the book Kentucky Fried Pensions, and he makes presentations around the state detailing the crisis facing the commonwealth’s pension programs.

While Gov. Steve Beshear and state lawmakers from both parties have hailed pension reform efforts passed in 2013, Tobe says it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to fix the underfunding issue.

Compared to the rest of the nation, Tobe believes “Kentucky is probably second worst to Illinois” when it comes to the health of its public pension programs.

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Politics
9:09 am
Tue February 18, 2014

LRC Employee Fired After Appearing in Online Video for Senate Candidate

An employee with the Legislative Research Commission has been fired after appearing in an online video in support of a Democratic Senatorial candidate.

The Courier-Journal reports that Charles Booker, 29, lost his job yesterday as an analyst for the Government Contract Review Committee. Booker appeared in a video for Alison Lundergun Grimes, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mitch McConnell.

In the video, Booker’s wife accuses McConnell of being out of touch with poor Kentuckians. Booker appears briefly in the video and makes a few comments about western Louisville.

LRC personnel policy prohibits employees from taking part in partisan political activity.

Politics
8:52 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Paul to Speak to Senate Committee on Voting Rights

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will make an appearance Wednesday before a state Senate committee to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for some felons.

The proposal has won House approval and is being considered by the State and Local Government Committee. Paul's office said Republican Joe Bowen, the committee chairman, invited Paul to testify.

Paul, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, has urged passage of the measure, saying voting rights are "sacred."

If approved, the measure would go on Kentucky's November ballot. Voters would decide whether to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights for some felons who completed their sentences and terms of probation.

Felons now can have their right to vote restored in Kentucky by petitioning the governor.

Politics
4:17 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Tea Party Groups Offering to Send Activists to Kentucky Ahead of GOP Senate Primary

Matt Bevin, left, spoke with WKU Public Radio's Lisa Autry during a campaign stop in Bowling Green.
Credit Abbey Oldham

Tea Party groups from across the south and midwest are pledging support in the effort to defeat Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

The five-term Kentucky incumbent is facing a primary challenge from Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist Matt Bevin.

United Kentucky Tea Party spokesman Scott Hofstra told WKU Public Radio activists from several states have promised to help Bevin win this spring's primary.

“We have had commitments now from Tea Party and liberty groups from Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and as far away as Florida, who have said, ‘We are going to send folks to Kentucky, at our expense, to help you on the ground get out the vote for Matt Bevin'", the Hardin County resident said.

Hofstra admits McConnell has gained many Republican allies at the local level in Kentucky during his nearly 30 years in office.

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Politics
8:35 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Stumbo Supports Judge's Opinion on Kentucky and Same-Sex Marriage

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (left) spoke to Rep. Jeff Hoover during the 2014 General Assembly.
Credit Kentucky LRC

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a federal judge's opinion that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The Floyd County Democrat doesn't think it will affect House elections this fall, where Democrats will defend a narrow 8-seat majority over Republicans.

“Whether you like it or not, that’s what the law says. Whether you like it or not, everybody’s rights need to be recognized by the constitution in equal manner. And that’s what the court found and that’s the state of the law," Stumbo said.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he is awaiting a final order in the case before he issues an opinion on the ruling or decides whether to appeal.

Politics
4:46 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Frankfort Reacts to Same-Sex Marriage Court Ruling

It was a very different time in 2004, politically and socially. George W. Bush was poised to sail into a second term in the White House. Hearings in Saddam Hussein’s war crimes trial began in earnest. And “Shrek 2” was making millions at the box office.

And Kentucky, along with 10 other states, voted to ban same-sex marriages.

Ten years ago, Kentucky's lawmakers and residents approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn knocked the legal footing out from under the measure, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

Heyburn's ruling only means the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of Kentucky. But it looks to be a matter of time before another case comes along seeking to throw the entire amendment out.

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