Kentucky lawmakers are mulling over ways to deal with a lawsuit between quasi-governmental agencies and their financial relationship to the beleaguered Kentucky Retirement System.
Last year, Seven Counties Services, a mental health nonprofit that contracts with state government, filed for bankruptcy over its pension debt. When a federal judge ruled last month that the nonprofit didn’t have to pay those obligations to the Kentucky Retirement System, KRS executive director Bill Thielen said his organization would appeal the decision.
If that effort fails, the remaining employers in the pension system could foot a $2.4 billion tab to cover the cost of the added liabilities.
Thielen says he supports legislation like that crafted by Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel that would require groups like Seven Counties who voluntarily withdraw from the retirement system to pay off their pension obligations.
“They would only be able to withdraw having fully paid their obligation, and that’s what we believe should be the case, otherwise all the other participating employers are going to have to pick up the tab,” Thielen told lawmakers Wednesday.
McDaniel’s bill died in the House this year, but lawmakers say they’ll continue studying their options as the appeal in the case drags on for the next couple of years.
A state political action committee focused on helping Republicans take control of the state House of Representatives has hired a former Mitt Romney staffer to be its executive director.
Bowling Green native Kathryn Breiwa will lead AmeriGOP's fundraising efforts and run its day-to-day operations. Breiwa was the deputy director for external relations for the Romney for President campaign and is a former regional field director for the Republican Party of Kentucky.
AmeriGOP Chairman Richard Knock said he hopes to raise $500,000 for the November elections. He wants to use that money to target individual voters in the 2nd Congressional District.
Democrats have a 54-46 majority in the state House of Representatives. Republicans have not had a majority in the state House since 1920.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has hired a 20-year Army veteran to oversee a new online voter registration system for military and overseas voters.
Retired Army 1st Sgt. Matthew L. Selph will oversee the new system that will allow military and overseas voters to request absentee ballots, register to vote and update their voter registration information online. The system is part of a 2013 law approved by the state legislature and is paid for by a $2.2 million federal grant from the Department of Defense.
In his 20 year military career Selph managed $10 million in infrastructure contracts in Afghanistan. A University of Louisville graduate, Selph has owned and operated Mooserack Coffee Company in Elizabethtown since 2008.
The new system should be online in time for the November elections.
Calling it the biggest voting rights issue of our day, U.S. Senator Rand Paul plans to introduce federal legislation this week to restore the voting rights of some convicted felons.
Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Paul said as many as a million Americans are being prevented from casting a ballot because of prior felony convictions.
"It prevents you from employment, so if we're the party of family values and a party that believes in redemption and second chances, we should be for letting people have back the right to vote," Paul suggested. "I think the face of the Republican party needs to be not about suppressing the vote, but enhancing the vote."
Senator Paul’s bill would allow felons convicted of non-violent crimes to regain voting privileges after their sentences are completed.
The Bowling Republican pushed similar legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly this year without success.
Newly elected U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will make a fundraising appearance in Bowling Green next month. The purpose of the visit is to raise money for GOP state house candidates. Scott Lasley, chairman of the Warren County GOP says Congressman Brett Guthrie likely played a big role in helping to bring a high-profile name like McCarthy to Bowling Green.
“There are at least 230 Republican members who would love to have him come to their districts and help raise money for, in this case, the state party. It reflects the level of respect that Congressman Guthrie has from his colleagues and also reflects what types of relationships he’s been able to form while in Washington,” said Lasley.
Lasley says there’s “no guarantee” the GOP can win the five seats needed to take control of the Kentucky House, but he says the party has its best shot in years. He says if they can accomplish their goal, it could move more critical than winning the governor’s office.
“If Republicans are successful and are able to control the House and the Senate, you’re going to see tax reform, you’re going to see some discussion of things like right-to-work and a whole range of issues. It would be significant,” said Lasley.
There hasn’t been a Republican majority in the state house since 1920.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press, current House Speaker, Democrat Greg Stumbo writes “House Republicans want to bring more Washington-styled politics to Kentucky, which is the last thing we need”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul threw President Obama a lifeline over the weekend amid questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Bowling Green Republican criticized those who pushed the U.S. military invasion in Iraq.
"What's going on now, I don't blame on President Obama, but I do blame the Iraq war for the chaos that is in the Middle East," said Paul. "I also blame those who were for the Iraq war for emboldening Iran."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he was a strong supporter of going into Iraq during the Bush administration and remains so now. Cheney dismissed Paul as an "isolationist.”
Senator Paul, who is considering a White House run in 2016, said he supports the president’s decision to send 300 advisers to Iraq in the interest of protecting the U.S. embassy there. But even as the terrorist group ISIS gains new ground in Iraq, Paul maintains the U.S. should stay out of the region militarily.
The heat of June is only a set-up for the heat of this year's Fancy Farm Picnic still six weeks away. August 2 is the date for this year's fundraiser in the small Graves County community of Fancy Farm.
One of the organizers, Mark Wilson, says the event is attracting the attention of national news media for the first time with the U-S Senate race between incumbent U-S Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
"We're already getting requests for the big media vans and trucks. Some of them are going to bring buses in for the national reporters to set up, " adds Wilson. "A lot of the prognosticators say this could be one of the largest picnics ever crowd-wise."
Senator Rand Paul's potential run for president in 2016 also adds to the media glare.
This year, Fancy Farm organizers are asking the political parties to stop "organized" crowd chanting which has detracted from the political speaking in recent years.
Citing a need to be with his family, Democratic Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen has declared he won't run for governor next year.
Speculation was rampant that Edelen would enter the contest, but he quelled it with an announcement Wednesday.
“My wife and my sons were all gung-ho for me to run, but at the end of the day I made the determination that I’d rather spend the next year-and-a-half coaching little league and catching crooks and running for re-election than I would worrying about my name ID in a governor’s race,” said Edelen
Attorney General Jack Conway is currently the only Democrat seeking the governor's office.
Edelen says he is withholding any endorsements until more candidates enter the race.
But he thinks Conway will benefit from greater name recognition among voters. Republican Hal Heiner of Louisville is the only Republican to announce a gubernatorial candidacy so far.
Edelen says he is “absolutely” considering running for governor in the future.
Governor Steve Beshear travels to Washington Tuesday to share Kentucky’s experience with implementing the Affordable Care Act.
The two-term Democratic governor will serve as a panelist at a conference sponsored by Enroll America, a non-profit, non-partisan group that works to increase the number of Americans with health care coverage.
More than 400,000 uninsured Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid or a private insurance plan on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange. Before sign-ups began last October, the state had identified some 600,000 without coverage.
"When we hit 300,000 it just blew our minds and we're going to keep right on going," said Beshear. "It will take us a year or two or three probably to find everybody around the state that needs this and qualifies for it, but we've had tremendous success so far."
An NBC News-Marist poll taken in May showed more Kentuckians than not had a favorable view of Kynect. But when asked about Obamacare, more respondents had an unfavorable than favorable view of it.
Kentucky’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is hoping to capitalize on the recent defeat of a bill addressing student loan debt.
The Senator who sponsored the measure is coming to Kentucky to back the campaign of Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The Grimes campaign announced Thursday that Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren will join Grimes for multiple events in the commonwealth this month. Warren championed a measure that failed in the Senate this week that would have allowed borrowers to refinance federal and private student loans at lower interest rates.
That bill would have raised taxes on the country’s wealthiest earners to cover the costs. The Democratic-backed measure Wednesday failed to gain the 60 Senate votes necessary to move forward.
Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell was one of 38 “no” votes.
The Grimes campaign says Warren’s visit to the Bluegrass State will help highlight how many college graduates are suffering under the burden of high amounts of student loan debt.
McConnell says the Warren bill didn’t do anything to address the rising costs of college or the amount of money students have to borrow to pay for their education.