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U.S. Senator Rand Paul will be in Bowling Green this weekend, asking fellow Republicans to change the way they nominate presidential candidates.

The Republican Party of Kentucky’s executive committee is meeting Saturday afternoon in Warren County, and Paul is hoping they will endorse his plan to replace the state’s presidential primary with a caucus.

In a primary, the winner is determined by counting ballots. A caucus counts the number of supporters who appear at meetings across the state on a specified day.

Paul wants the state GOP to move to a caucus so that he could run for both President and another U.S. Senate term at the same time. Current Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from appearing on the same ballot for multiple offices.

The Associated Press reports Paul believes a caucus would also offer military personnel greater opportunities to participate.

Kentucky is home to two military bases and absentee voters have posed problems for other caucuses around the country. A spokesman for Paul noted a caucus gives organizers more options to accommodate military voters.

Maitree Laipitaksin, 123rf Stock Photo

Leading candidates for the Republican nomination in this year’s gubernatorial race say they all want to make Kentucky’s business climate more like the one in Texas. 

During speeches last week, candidates Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hall Heiner and Will T. Scott all promised to carry out plans aimed at reducing state taxes and regulations on businesses. 
They also said they are hoping to model the Commonwealth after Texas, which has been leading the nation for economic growth. 

Janet Kelly is with the Urban Affairs Institute at the University of Louisville. She says these plans—in practice—might not pan-out like the candidates hope. 

“Kentucky can’t be like Texas. Texas produces more oil than Venezuela.” 

She says the two states shouldn’t be compared since Texas has other variables like revenue from oil and more immigration. 

“It might well be that if we adopted the very same kinds of policies we might see very different results.” 

The GOP candidates also claim Kentucky’s tax structure is a job creation-killer, which Kelly says is not true. 

The four candidates will square off in the May primary.

A date has been set for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments for same-sex marriage cases in Kentucky and three other states. 

The Court says it will make audio and an unofficial transcript of the April 28 hearing available on its website the same day. 

Attorneys on both sides will get 90 minutes to argue whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry everywhere in the U.S.  Another hour will be devoted to whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. 

A decision is expected before July.

A winter storm has dumped more than a foot of snow on the state capital, knocking out power at the statehouse and cancelling the legislative session.

According to an email, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers made the decision early Thursday morning. Frankfort officials have reported snowfall of as much as 14 inches.

The cancellation comes at a crucial time for lawmakers, with just five scheduled work days left in the 2015 session. Several key bills are pending, including measures to address the state's heroin epidemic and make Kentucky the last state in the country to offer some sort of civil protections for abusive dating relationships.

A spokesman for Stivers says the two leaders will talk later Thursday about the possibility of adjusting the schedule.

The Kentucky Senate has approved a bill that would place more accountability requirements on counties that have jailers but no jails.

A recent review by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found that since the 1970s, 41 counties have closed their jails for budgetary or compliance reasons.

Though all of those counties have a jailer, which is a constitutional office in Kentucky, many of those jailers have little or no official duties but draw a full salary.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Republican Danny Carroll of Paducah, would require jailers to submit quarterly reports on their job duties to fiscal courts, would require the courts to establish job requirements for county jailers and only make salary adjustments based on increases in the consumer price index.

Kentucky House Backs No Tanning Beds for Minors

Mar 4, 2015

Anyone under age 18 in Kentucky would be prohibited from using tanning beds under a bill approved in the House.

The measure was given approval Tuesday on a 51-47 vote. One of those casting a 'no' vote was Representative David Meade of Stanford.

"As a parent, I like to make my own parenting decisions for my child and I feel that this is kind of invading that area for me," Meade stated.

Bill Sponsor David Watkins says the goal of the legislation is to decrease the use of tanning beds at an early age, with hopes of seeing a decrease in skin cancer.

Watkins admits passage through the senate with less than a week left for bill consideration is challenging.

Kentucky Recognized for Economic Ranking

Mar 4, 2015
Flickr/Creative Commons

Economic development gains in 2014 place Kentucky first among states. 

A ceremony at the Capitol Tuesday recognized the commonwealth's first place designation in Site Selection Magazine's annual Governor's Cup rankings. The top spot reflects new and expanded industry activity per capita over the last year.

Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes says the many negative stigmas about Kentucky are being put to rest.

"I think at times, I think we want to feel badly about ourselves or we believe some of the particular stereotypes that people used to have," commented Hayes.  "The truth of the matter is Kentucky is doing business globally very successfully."

Magazine Editor Mark Arend says the ranking proves Kentucky has the ability to attract capital investment projects on a national scale.

Last year, the state announced more than 350 new location and expansion projects.

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill authorizing $132.5 million in bonding for a cancer research center at the University of Kentucky.  UK will raise an additional $132.5 million to fund the project.

This is the second piece of legislation passed by both chambers in the 2015 General Assembly.

Bill sponsor Representative Alice Forgy Kerr said the cancer research center will help create a healthier Kentucky.

“The life expectancy of our states is lower than that of citizens in other states and we know that that is unacceptable and we have to do something about that," stated Kerr.

Governor Steve Beshear has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

Kentucky LRC

This is the last full week of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2015 session—and just one major piece of legislation has passed both the House and Senate.

Some in Frankfort have high hopes that a few bills will become law in the session’s waning days, including a bill meant to address Kentucky’s growing heroin problem and a constitutional amendment that would allow local governments to fund local projects with a temporary sales tax.

At the end of day 21 of a likely 28 day session, here’s where some of the big bills stood:

Heroin

The House and Senate have each passed their own bills that seek to combat Kentucky’s growing heroin problem. Both proposals set aside money for addiction treatment, increase penalties for traffickers and make an overdose-reversing drug called naloxone more available.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky is one step closer to providing victims of dating violence with the same protections that married victims have.

A Senate committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow people to file an interpersonal protective order against an abusive dating partner. The bill has passed the House and now heads to the full Senate.

Kentucky is the only state that doesn’t offer civil protection to victims of dating violence. Currently only couples who are married, share a child or cohabitate can file protective orders against their partners.

Rep. John Tilley, a Hopkinsville Democrat, said the bill can solve problems quickly without entering the criminal justice system.

“More than half of those who enter this system, the violence stops with a civil protected order,” Tilley said. “In other words, criminal sanctions aren’t necessary. Sometimes the victim doesn’t want to go through the criminal justice process.”

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