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Kentucky LRC

A bill that would give victims of dating violence increased protections passed the House on Thursday evening.

The bill, which has the support of the Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, passed the House unanimously.

But Rep. Donna Mayfield, a Republican from Winchester, expressed concern about the bill, saying that the present system already protects victims.

“I just fear that this opens the floodgates to some situations that may dilute the purity of this situation, the way that we have it in the courts right now,” Mayfield said.

“I’m afraid that those people who desperately need our protection are going to be put in the same pool as a middle school couple, perhaps, that has had a spat.”

Governor Steve Beshear says a report that examined the first year of Medicaid expansion in Kentucky shows that it’s having a positive effect on the state.

The firm Deloitte Consulting, analyzed various impacts of the expansion during 2014.

Beshear says despite opposition from critics, the report shows that more than twice the estimated number of people has enrolled in Medicaid. And that more jobs than estimated are now expected to be created over the next several years.

“The combined effects of these added jobs will have a significant effect on our families and communities all across Kentucky," said Beshear.

The net economic impact to the state is now expected to be $30 billion over eight years—twice the amount estimated.

U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie of Kentucky says he supports U.S. military action against ISIS. 

The Bowling Green Republican says he is ready to debate President Obama’s proposal to authorize the use of military force against the terrorist group.  Guthrie, however, says sending ground troops would be premature.

"I think the people in the Mid East are being affected by it too, as Jordan well knows," Guthrie told WKU Public Radio.  "I think it's a threat to us as a country, as well, but those directly affected by it need to send troops to fight.  I think if we jump in with ours, they'll step back."

Congressman Guthrie says the threat posed by ISIS is just as serious as the threat once posed by Al-Qaeda. 

Lawmakers will hold hearings in advance of approving the president’s request to authorize the use military force against ISIS.  Guthrie says the AUMF must provide strong enough authority for the president to takeany actions necessary to destroy ISIS. 

The last AUMF was issued in 2001 against those responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Members of Congress are responding to President Obama’s request for official authorization to wage war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL.

Many Republicans say the proposal doesn’t go far enough, while some Democrats are worrying it’s too open-ended. At the heart of the debate is the sentence that would prohibit “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

WKU PBS

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has asked state Republican leaders to hold a presidential caucus in 2016 instead of the usual primary vote, which would allow him to simultaneously run for his Senate seat and president, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Thursday.

The Herald-Leader reports that Paul sent a letter dated Feb. 9 to the state Republican Party’s central committee asking for the change. State law prohibits candidates from appearing twice on a ballot.

The caucus would be ostensibly held earlier than the May primary, potentially also giving the state a greater impact over who’ll be the Republican nominee for president next year. The Herald-Leader also reports that Paul pitched the caucus idea as a “one-time change.”

Kentucky LRC

A Kentucky House committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would give felons the right to vote. The House has passed a similar bill every year since 2007, but the bills have died or been significantly changed in the Senate.

Janet Tucker, of the advocacy group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, said  that keeping felons from voting disproportionately affects minority communities.

“Those communities really aren’t getting their full vote in our democracy still, so it’s an important issue for our democracy as well as individuals and their rights as citizens,” Tucker said.

Felons convicted of murder and sex offenses are excluded in the House bill.

A bill that would allow Kentucky’s local governments to increase the sales tax one percent to fund projects is heading to the full House.

The local option sales tax legislation won committee approval today Tuesday.

Under the proposed legislation, local voters would need to approve the temporary tax increase for each project.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer—an enthusiastic supporter of the local option—said the tax could fund the completion of the Louisville Loop, to build parks, and to increase wireless connectivity.

“People know we have many needs, but it’s up to the citizens to decide if those needs would be funded on a temporary basis.”

Critics argue the sales tax would disproportionately hurt poor Kentuckians.

If the measure passes the both chambers of the General Assembly and is approved by Governor Beshear, it would still have to be approved by Kentucky voters in the November election.

Legislation to extend civil protections in Kentucky to dating couples through protective orders has won unanimous approval in the House Judiciary Committee. Earlier Tuesday, Governor Beshear offered his endorsement of the bill.

"These victims are at high risk for continued abuse, often a protective order is enough to get an abuser's attention and deter further abuse," commented Beshear.

In previous years, similar measures have passed the House but not the Senate. Senate President Robert Stivers believes this session could be different.

"The realities of a civil protective order as an additional layer of protections is very likely to go through both chambers," stated Stivers.

A new provision in the proposed bill allows the temporary order to be expunged if no final interpersonal order is handed down and if the abuser has had five years of non-violent domestic behavior.

Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

The new leader of Kentucky’s Democratic Party believes avoiding a hotly-contested gubernatorial primary will benefit Democrats in November.

Patrick Hughes told WKU Public Radio Tuesday his party is rallying behind Attorney General Jack Conway, the only high-profile Democrat running to succeed Governor Steve Beshear. Hughes thinks Conway’s experience running for state-wide office gives him advantages over whoever wins the Republican primary in May.

“Jack is able to get the financial support necessary to run a statewide election, he’s able to get the political support to win a statewide election. So, if anything, those elections that he didn’t win only made him stronger because they built his network.”

Conway has served as Attorney General for two terms, and lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race to Rand Paul. He also ran unsuccessfully in 2002 against 3rd District Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup.

The only other Democrat on the primary ballot is retired state engineer Geoff Young.

www.corker.senate.gov

Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee says he has no plans to run for president.

The former Chattanooga mayor tells WPLN-FM that he is "very challenged" by his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which he assumed after Republicans took over control of the Senate this year.

Corker said in August that he hadn't ruled out pursuing a presidential bid because he was waiting for a consensus candidate to emerge. He told WPLN on Monday he now thinks the Republican field is "shaping up in a good way."

Just 11 percent of those surveyed in a recent by Middle Tennessee State University poll said Corker should run for president, while 41 percent said he should not.

Corker was first elected to the Senate in 2006.

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