Pork and politics will be on the menu at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast and Auction at the state fairgrounds in Louisville.
A sellout crowd of 1,600 will be served 450 pounds of country ham along with other fixings at the Thursday morning event. They'll then hear speeches from some of the state's political leaders including senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Governor Steve Beshear.
For some, the main event will be an auction of the state fair's grand champion ham. The prize ham will be garnished with roses on a silver platter held by Miss Kentucky while the auctioneer calls for bids. Last year's 17.6 pound ham fetched a winning bid of $300,000. All the money raised from the auction is donated to the charity of the winning bidder's choice.
The Kentucky House has adopted new boundaries for its 100 members, but not without some lawmaker grumbling.
The bill to redraw legislative boundaries passed the full house 83 to 17. Before the votes were cast, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told colleagues there was no intent to punish anyone or either political party.
“Everyone agreeing that it has to be done, it’s required, and this is a fair way to do it," said the Democratic House Speaker.
While several lawmakers argued these new boundaries are fairer than their earlier attempts, many still voiced concerns. Most came from individual lawmakers, upset over seeing their counties divided between several districts.
Two longtime Kentucky statehouse employees have filed ethics complaints against Democratic state Rep. John A. Arnold Jr., alleging a pattern of sexual assault and harassment dating back to early 2010.
Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, in separate complaints, allege the Union County lawmaker inappropriately touched them and made lewd and vulgar comments in numerous incidents over several years. Arnold is a veteran legislator from Sturgis.
Cooper and Costner filed their complaints Friday with the Legislative Ethics Commission. They are employed by the state Legislative Research Commission—a nonpartisan agency that provides the legislature with staff and research support. Cooper is assigned as an aide to House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins. Costner is assigned as an adviser to House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson of Owensboro.
(From left) Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown; Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington; Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville; and Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, discuss legislation prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
A House committee in Frankfort passed the chamber's redistricting plan Tuesday on a 25-4 vote with the support of many Republicans. The lone Democrat who voted against the bill was Representative Jimmie Lee of Elizabethtown.
The proposed map splits Hardin County among six districts, with only Lee's district--the 25th--remaining entirely within Hardin County.
"With the other counties involved, someone that would seek the seat living in Hardin County in these various districts will never have enough votes in Hardin County to ever win an election," explains Lee. "Basically, this map has precluded the northern end of Hardin County from ever having someone who lives there serve as their representative."
The bill is expected to easily win approval from the full House on Wednesday.
The House map pairs eight incumbents, four Republicans and four Democrats, against each other in elections next year. It varies quite a bit from a 2012 House proposal that pitted nine incumbents against each other, eight of them Republicans. That plan was thrown out by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
A legislative redistricting bill has cleared a House committee and is scheduled for a vote on the House floor on Wednesday.
The House State Government Committee voted 25-4 on Tuesday in Frankfort to keep redistricting on the fast track. Legislative leaders are pushing to wrap up redistricting work by Friday. In Kentucky’s legislative process, it takes a minimum of five days to pass a bill.
Lawmakers are working hurriedly to get done quickly because of pending lawsuits. A three-judge panel is closely watching the Legislature’s efforts and is poised to step in if lawmakers fail to resolve the matter in the special session.
Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the Census Bureau.
Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr says he'll challenge incumbent Lamar Alexander for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.
The decision to challenge Alexander means Carr will abandon his bid to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District.
DesJarlais is considered vulnerable because of his past infidelities and once having encouraged his wife and a lover to seek abortions. Meanwhile, Alexander is headed into his bid for a third term in the Senate with $3.1 million on hand through the first half of the year.
Carr made the announcement to WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol on Tuesday.
The announcement pre-empts a series of statewide ‘‘vetting’’ sessions tea party groups have scheduled to evaluate potential challengers to Alexander, whom they consider too moderate.
A Warren County lawmaker says he's waiting until new legislative maps are drawn before he makes any decisions about his future.
Republican Representative Jim DeCesare could be placed in a tough spot when lawmakers pass a redistricting plan at the end of the special session that began Monday in Frankfort.
A Democratic proposal would put DeCesare in the same district as fellow House Republican C.B. Embry, Junior, of Morgantown. DeCesare tells WKU Public Radio that he's not ready to decide whether or not he would seek re-election under those circumstances.
"Once there's final passage on a piece of legislation, I'll look at it and see where I need to go from there,” said the Rockfield Republican.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will continue to disagree over national security and other issues, but the Republican Party is big enough to accommodate both men's views.
In an apparent shot at Christie, Paul says Sunday "there's room for people who believe in bigger government in our party." The New Jersey governor is considered a moderate whose views on government spending differ sharply from the libertarian Paul's.
The two men, potential rivals for president in 2016, have been sparring for weeks.
Paul told "Fox News Sunday" that Republicans should concentrate growing the party instead of bickering. He said the GOP "is shrinking almost down to nothing" in the Northeast, Christie's home base, and needs people with new ideas to attract independents and Democrats.
Monday is day one of what Kentucky lawmakers hope will be a quick special legislative session devoted to creating new redistricting maps.
Both Republicans and Democrats have unveiled proposed maps, and lawmakers from both parties have said they believe an agreement can be reached by Friday.
The latest redistricting effort has dragged on over a year, with one set of maps being thrown out by the state supreme court in 2012. That's leading some to wonder if Kentucky should consider creating an independent, non-partisan committee that would be in charge of drawing new legislative maps every ten years.
Daviess County Democratic Representative Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio it's an idea he'd consider.
"I certainly would not be opposed to looking at the possibility of having an independent commission actually do the redistricting itself, and I'd be surprised if we didn't have some bills that came up when we go back to the regular session in January that propose that," said Rep. Thompson.
Edmonson County Republican Representative Michael Meredith has said he would also consider the creation of an independent redistricting commission. But he says he would want lawmakers to ultimately have an up-or-down vote on any maps such a commission produced.