3:04 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Stumbo Pens Letter to Beshear Asking for Special Session for Redistricting

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is encouraging Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session for redistricting to help end a federal lawsuit.

Last week several county clerks in Northern Kentucky filed a lawsuit claiming the state's inability to finish redistricting violates federal law.

In response, Stumbo released a letter he has sent to the governor, encouraging Beshear to call a special session soon to pass redistricting maps.

Stumbo says it's pointless to waste money on litigation when House lawmakers have already passed a new redistricting plan. Senate leaders have said they wanted to wait until the 2014 session to pass the maps.

Beshear says he's open to a special session on redistricting, but wants to make sure all parties are ready so costs can be minimized. It costs taxpayers $60,000 a day for a special session.

2:01 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Democrats Nominate Kay for House Special Election

The Democratic candidate is in place for a key special election in central Kentucky.

Attorney James Kay of Versailles will run for the Kentucky state House seat being left vacant by Carl Rollins. Rollins is leaving office to work with two state education groups.

Kay is the chair of the Woodford County Democratic Party and a legislative aide to Democratic House leadership. A group of Democratic leaders from Woodford, Franklin and Fayette counties nominated him to run.

Republicans will choose their nominee Tuesday night. The special election will be June 25.

This race is the first of many anticipated battles for control of the state House, which is currently led by Democrats. The GOP has been eyeing a takeover for years, and hopes to gain ground in the next two years.

8:50 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Group Will Highlight Negative Comments About the ACA

A new political group will hit the airwaves just after the Kentucky Derby to oppose the federal healthcare law.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will run ads attacking the Affordable Care Act. They've declined to release the spot early, but have hinted that it will feature various voices calling the law a train wreck.

The KOC is run by three area women, Kristen Webb and  Bridget Bush of Louisville and Karen Sellers of Paintsville. The group is being advised by Scott Jennings, a longtime ally of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. Jennings is also running a separate Super PAC aimed at helping re-elect McConnell. 

Even though the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional, it still faces opposition from Republicans who hope to repeal it.

3:50 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Conway: "Good Chance" I Run for Governor in 2015

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says there is “a good chance” he will run for governor in 2015. Conway has often been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate to take over the governor’s mansion from two-term incumbent Steve Beshear.

In an interview this week with the editorial board of The Courier-Journal, the 43-year-old Conway also repeated his previous statements that he won’t challenge U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year.

Conway, who is finishing his second term as Attorney General, said he won’t “defer to anybody” when making a decision whether or not to run for governor. Other Democrats who have expressed interest in the gubernatorial contest are former state Auditor Crit Luallen, current auditor Adam Edelen, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, and former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo.

On the GOP side, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie have often been mentioned as possible candidates.

11:04 am
Thu April 25, 2013

State Rep. Carl Rollins' Resignation Sparks Early Campaign Battle

Kentucky state Rep. Carl Rollins isresigning his House seat effective at the end of today, becoming the state first lawmaker to announce his retirement this cycle.

Rollins is resigning to become the Executive Director and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and the CEO of the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation.

Rollins' represents the 56th Legislative District, which covers part of Fayette and Franklin counties and all of Woodford  County.

The resignation will trigger a special election for the seat, which Governor Steve Beshear has set for Tuesday, June 25. Each respective party will nominee a candidate to run in the election.

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9:48 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Environmental Attorney Considers U.S. Senate Bid

Environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald says he may seek the Democratic nomination to run for U.S. Senate next year but perhaps not if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes gets in the race.

FitzGerald said he's not sure a costly Democratic primary would be a good idea considering the huge amount of money that the Republican incumbent, Mitch McConnell, has raised.

McConnell has banked $13 million.

The Courier-Journal first reported FitzGerald's plans.

FitzGerald said if he runs, he will give up his job as executive director of the non-profit Kentucky Resources Council, which has put him at the center of environmental debates for nearly three decades.

The 58-year-old said he will talk with Grimes before he decides in the next couple of weeks. Grimes said Tuesday she still hasn't decided.

9:27 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Farmer to Face Federal Indictment Thursday

Former Agriculture Secretary Richie Farmer

The arraignment for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is now scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Lexington. Farmer’s arraignment had originally been set for next Tuesday, but was moved up because of a scheduling conflict with Farmer’s lawyer, Guthrie True.

Earlier this week the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Farmer had been indicted on four counts of theft from a program involving federal funds and one count of soliciting a bribe.

The charges against Farmer include allegations that he took guns, watches, and knives bought as gifts from a convention in 2008.

Each of the five counts against the former UK basketball star carries a penalty of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by a judge under federal court sentencing guidelines.

4:39 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Senator Paul: Justice System Can Handle Bombing Case

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he believes the federal justice system is ‘‘fully capable of prosecuting’’ a 19-year-old man suspected of detonating deadly bombs at the Boston Marathon.

The Obama administration has indicated it plans to build a criminal case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains in serious condition in a hospital.

Some of Paul’s congressional Republican colleagues have said Tsarnaev’s rights should be more restricted than the administration intends.

Paul said after an appearance at a Louisville power plant Monday that he hopes Tsarnaev is ‘‘prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and I hope he’s ashamed and (is) punished for killing innocents.’’

The most serious charge available to prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill, which carries a possible death sentence.

9:46 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Richie Farmer Indicted by Federal Grand Jury, Faces Up to 50 Years in Prison

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of misusing and misappropriating funds from the Department of Agriculture. Farmer also faces a charge of soliciting property in exchange for influencing department actions.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington made the announcement this morning. The charges against Farmer include allegations that he took guns, watches, and knives bought as gifts from a convention in 2008.

Each of the five counts against the former UK basketball star carries a penalty of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by a judge under federal court sentencing guidelines.

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey says Farmer will be arraigned on April 30.

Allegations of spending and hiring abuses during Farmer’s tenure as Agriculture Commissioner prompted his successor, James Comer, to ask for an audit of Farmer’s time at the department. The report released by state auditor Adam Edelen found what he called “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at the Kentucky taxpayers’ expense.”

6:00 am
Sun April 21, 2013

Beshear Still Deciding on Special Session for Tax Reform, Redistricting

Even though they managed to pass pension and tax reforms in this year's regular legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers haven't necessarily dodged a special session.

A few big issues remain for lawmakers, mainly the redrawing of legislative districts and further tax reform.

Governor Steve Beshear has continued to discuss the need for more tax reform, largely to pay for education. And he says he's not ruling out calling a special session sometime this year.

"I'm going to have continuing conversations through the summer with House and Senate leadership on that too. We're just taking it one step at a time and see where we go,” the Governor said.

Beshear is also considering whether redistricting should be tackled in a special session. Legally, lawmakers have until next year, but Beshear says he wants candidates to know their districts well before campaigning begins.