Politics

Politics/Health
8:01 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Bill Requiring Women to Undergo Ultrasound Before Abortion Passes Kentucky Committee

A Kentucky Senate committee has passed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a mandatory ultrasound procedure.

Senate Bill 8 is the latest anti-abortion measure to clear the panel.

Lawmakers heard testimony from Derrick Selznick, who is director of the ACLU of Kentucky’s Reproductive Freedom Project. Selznick opposes the bill on the grounds that it’s demeaning to women.

“So for the majority of women that this will effect in Kentucky, there will have to have [sic] a vaginal ultrasound," Selznick said. "And the courts have ruled that the only way a woman can dissent, even though it is written into the law that they can avert their eyes, the only way she can can fulfill that is to wear blinders and noise cancelling headphones. And if that isn’t degrading, I don’t know what is.”

Bill sponsor Whitney Westerfield says the measure is designed to protect innocent life.

Another anti-abortion bill, Senate Bill 3, passed in that chamber last week.

Politics
4:11 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Minimum Wage Increase Passes Kentucky House Committee

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (left) is a major advocate for increasing the state's minimum wage.
Credit Kentucky LRC

A bill aimed at raising the minimum wage in Kentucky has cleared a House committee.

The measure is a top priority of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who says the current minimum wage doesn't provide a living wage. The Prestonsburg Democrat says full-time employees working for the minimum wage make less than the average cost of a used car in the U.S.

The bill was approved by the House Labor and Industry Committee on Thursday.

Under the bill, the state's minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2016. There would be a 95-cent increase this July and another 95-cent boost in July 2015.

Stumbo says Kentucky's minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009.

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Politics
1:48 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Slate is Set for 2014 Elections in Kentucky

The Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office reports about 4,800 candidates are in the running for more than  300 races across the state as the deadline  for candidates to file expired Tuesday.

All eyes will be on the state House, where Democrats hold a narrow majority of 54 seats to Republicans’ 46 seats.

Democrat John Warren is one of several candidates who filed Tuesday.  He’s running against incumbent Suzanne Miles in the 7th House District.

Miles recently won a special election after former Rep. John Arnold resigned amid allegations he had sexually harassed female statehouse staffers.

Warren who works in Agriculture  says he thinks the scandal shouldn't hurt his chances.

“That has nothing to do with me, and really nothing to do with the Democratic Party. That’s a personal issue he had, and you know, I wish John all the best," remarks Warren.  "I guess sometimes people make decisions, hopefully for the right reason, some for the wrong. But anyway, I have nothing against John, and that’s totally none of my business.”

The Secretary of State must certify candidates’ names to county clerks by February 10.

Politics
12:07 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Why Red-State Kentucky Got A Shoutout From Obama

Kentucky's Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, has gotten considerable attention for embracing President Obama's Affordable Care Act and adopting the Common Core educational standards.
Roger Alford AP

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 1:44 pm

Steve Beshear couldn't help but chuckle during the State of the Union speech when President Obama said, "Kentucky's not the most liberal part of the country."

Obama was singling out his fellow Democrat for being the rare Southern governor who has fully implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and running a state health insurance exchange that launched far more smoothly than the federal model.

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Politics
11:06 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Republican Primary Grows in Kentucky's U.S. Senate Race

A Bath County woman has entered the Republican primary for the U-S Senate seat now held by Mitch McConnell.  Forty-one-year-old Shawna Sterling of Sharpsburg is an ordained minister with a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Kentucky.

Sterling says she’s a conservative and a strict constitutionalist, but distinguishes herself from McConnell and fellow G-O-P challenger Matt Bevin in a major way. She does not favor repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"We need insurance, our families need it.  It's the way the law was written that puts a lot of Kentucky families in danger of losing their health insurance or the premiums are so high they can't afford health insurance," comments Sterling.

Sterling says she felt so strongly about the need for health care reform, she worked to re-elect President Obama in 2012. However, she says the A-C-A is flawed and should be changed.

Sterling also says she’s adamantly opposed to gun control and believes President Obama’s energy policies have been unfair to the coal industry.

Politics
9:00 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Religious Group Buying Ads on Oppose Expanded Gambling in Kentucky

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is speaking out against expanded gambling in a new radio ad aimed at stirring grassroots opposition to legalizing casinos.

The ad is debuting Wednesday on Christian radio stations.

It features the Baptist Convention's executive director, Paul Chitwood. He says casino operators want to "cash in on the misery" of others. He urges listeners to press their lawmakers to oppose expanded gambling.

Chitwood also makes his case in a video being sent to churches across the state.

The Baptist Convention's campaign comes as expanded gambling supporters are renewing their efforts in this year's General Assembly session.

Lawmakers are considering proposals that would let Kentucky voters decide whether to amend the state's constitution to legalize casinos.

Supporters say casinos would generate much-needed revenue for the state as lawmakers grapple with budget cuts.

Politics
8:47 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Kentucky Baptist Leader Condemns Expanded Gambling

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is speaking out against expanded gambling in a new radio ad aimed at stirring grassroots opposition to legalizing casinos.

The ad is debuting Wednesday on Christian radio stations. 

It features the Baptist Convention's executive director, Paul Chitwood. He says casino operators want to "cash in on the misery" of others. He urges listeners to press their lawmakers to oppose expanded gambling.

Chitwood also makes his case in a video being sent to churches across the state.

The Baptist Convention's campaign comes as expanded gambling supporters are renewing their efforts in this year's General Assembly session.

Lawmakers are considering proposals that would let Kentucky voters decide whether to amend the state's constitution to legalize casinos. Supporters point to the revenue they say casinos would generate for the state.

Politics
8:37 am
Wed January 29, 2014

New PAC is Aimed at Helping Kentucky Republicans Win Control of State House

Hal Heiner

A newly-formed Super PAC will target Kentucky House races this fall in an effort to win a GOP majority in that chamber.

New Direction Kentucky is a nonprofit founded by former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, who is rumored to be a GOP contender for next year's governor’s race.

Currently, Democrats retain a narrow majority in the House, with 54 seats to the Republicans’ 46.

New Direction Kentucky spokesman Joe Burgan says the group will not directly give money to campaigns, but will raise funds to purchase ads in contested races come November.

“We will do grassroots work; we will do paid media; we will do earned media. So that’s TV, radio, mail. Working with the press. To really do everything we can to get these candidates across the line," Burgain said.

The group is comprised of business and political luminaries, including Humana founder David Jones.

Burgan did not say how much money the group intends to raise.

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Politics
3:15 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Wayne: Balancing Kentucky Budget Shouldn't Depend on Leveling Licensure Fees

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, discusses a bill up for consideration in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

The legislative scrutiny has begun for Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's proposed budget.

Some lawmakers are critical of the proposal for relying on professional license fees to balance the budget.

From barbers to doctors, blue and white-collar professionals in Kentucky must pay licensure fees in order to practice their given trade. Those fees then go back into funding and staffing the licensing board.

But Beshear’s budget proposal transfers about $370 million in surplus fees to the General Fund, creating a structural imbalance.

Rep. Jim Wayne calls that robbery.

“It puts the boards and commissions in a position where they have to raise the rates on people who are being regulated by their boards and commissions," the Louisville Democrat said. "So, if they don’t have the money to sustain them because it’s been robbed by the governor, they have to go back and then tax, in essence.”

Wayne says the practice has become so commonplace, it’s become a “new normal.”

Politics
8:38 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Beshear Snags Invitation to State of the Union Speech

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

Governor Steve Beshear has been invited to attend tonight’s State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C.  Beshear and his wife Jane will be guests of the President and Mrs. Obama. 

Beshear has been a leading advocate for the implementation of the controversial Affordable Care Act, but he dismisses critics who claim his support for the legislation has been purely about politics.

“If the president were a Republican, I would be going to Washington, D.C. to be honored and for Kentucky to be honored for the efforts that we’re making for our people on affordable healthcare,” said Beshear in an interview posted to his official video channel. “This is not political, as far as I’m concerned.”

Beshear says he thinks debate over the new healthcare law will die down by the time the November elections come around. 

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