The key issue for a new Louisville-based political action committee is candidates' use of reproductive rights as a campaign issue.
Reproductive Rights for Kentucky PAC was born from the recent controversy when University of Louisville Hospital attempted to merge with Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. Critics of the merger raised concerns about CHI's adherence to Catholic religious directives—that certain reproductive health practices, such as tubal litigations, wouldn't be permitted at University Hospital.
The new PAC is chaired by Honi Goldman, a Louisville media relations executive and a critic of the CHI-University Hospital merger. (CHI and University entered into a partnership last year.)
Goldman said the group will support candidates who realized there are bigger issues to deal with than reproductive ones.
Democrat Crit Luallen is reaching out to the United Mine Workers of America more than two years ahead of a potential gubernatorial bid in 2015.
Luallen, a former two-term state auditor, talked to UMWA members in Lexington on Thursday about her support for organized labor and for coal mining.
Union members gave a not-so-subtle hint about their early gubernatorial favorite by inviting Luallen to attend the Lexington meeting. She was the only one of a large field of potential candidates invited.
Luallen, who served as a senior aide to former Gov. Paul Patton, has made no secret of her interest in running in 2015. Reaching out to miners is a crucial first step in a major coal-producing state like Kentucky.
With this year's legislative session over, a look into lobbying spending in Kentucky shows big money is still a major player in Frankfort.
During the first two months of the this year's session, lobbyists spent $4.2 million to influence lawmakers on bills. The Legislative Ethics Commission says that's a 10 percent increase on the amount spent in the first two months of the last short session, which was in 2011.
Full spending reports won't be out for at least another month, but so far two lobbying groups stand out from the rest: Altria Client Services and Century Aluminum. Both spent more than $80,000 this January and February. Altria lobbied for a change to tobacco taxes, which passed. Century lobbied for a bill to let aluminum smelters buy power on the open market. It did not pass.
Other big spenders include the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky League of Cities.