Former Kentucky first lady Martha Wilkinson, who championed efforts to reduce adult illiteracy and ran a brief campaign to succeed her husband as governor, has died. She was 72.
Her husband, Wallace Wilkinson, was governor from 1987 to 1991.
Doug Alexander, his spokesman during his administration, says Martha Wilkinson died Wednesday at a hospital in Florida.
During his term, voters approved a state lottery and lawmakers overhauled public schools.
Wallace Wilkinson failed to get a measure on the ballot allowing himself and other constitutional officers at the time to run for a second term. Martha Wilkinson ran a brief campaign for governor herself, promising to continue her husband's policies.
The Wilkinsons married in 1960. Her husband became a millionaire businessman, only to see his business empire collapse in bankruptcy.
Attorney General Jack Conway said his decision to not defend Kentucky's gay marriage ban will not be an issue in the 2015 governor's race.
Conway announced his candidacy in the race on Tuesday, two months after calling a tearful news conference to announce he would not appeal a judge's ruling forcing Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
The decision pitted Conway against Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who decided to hire private attorneys to appeal the case.
Conway said Tuesday that he believes voters will be more interested in building Kentucky's future than rehashing his decision not to appeal the lawsuit. He said voters will be focused more on issues such as public education and economic development.
Party primaries are being held today in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana, and more will come later in the month. In Kentucky, the Tea Party has set its sights on ousting one of the GOP’s most established figures on Capitol Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Phillip Bailey of WFPL reports:
In south central Kentucky, few people care more about politics than Joe Walden.
Jonathan Meador's report on Tuesday's announcement by Jack Conway
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway officially announced in a video press release on Tuesday his candidacy for governor, adding that he has tapped House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, as his running mate.
“Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and continue to move Kentucky forward, and we begin doing that by building a great team. The strength of this gubernatorial ticket is bolstered by Rep. Sannie Overly’s record of accomplishments.”
Conway has served as the state’s Attorney General since 2008. Overly, a Democrat from Paris, was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2008, and in 2013 became the first woman in state history to be elected Caucus Chair by House Democrats.
“As governor, Jack will fight for better jobs, to fix our schools, and to help our families confront the economic struggles they face every day,” Overly said in a statement. “Jack has refused to back down from the toughest fights and he has won. Together, we will work hard to build Kentucky’s future.”
Conway is the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in the 2015 gubernatorial election; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, a Republican, threw his hat into the ring earlier this year. Former Lexington urban-county council member K.C. Crosbie is Heiner's running mate.
A member of the legislative ethics commission says he is stepping down from his position due to the panel's handling of a case involving former state Rep. John Arnold.
Vernie McGaha told The Courier-Journal that he already sent his resignation letter, but was persuaded by Senate President Robert Stivers to remain on the commission until it decides whether to reconsider Arnold's case. Three women testified during a hearing before the panel that Arnold sexually harassed them.
The commission voted 4-1 to find Arnold guilty. But state law requires at least five "yes" votes from the nine member commission to convict. Three commissioners did not attend the hearing and one seat is vacant.
The commission is expected to take up the case again at its next meeting on Wednesday.
More than one hundred legislative races will be on the ballot this year in Kentucky, and for some, contenders must first get through a primary.
Among those is the 16th state Senate District, featuring incumbent Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello and political newcomer Max Wise of Campbellsville.
Gregory is an attorney who spent one term in the House before winning a special election to the Senate in 2012. She tells WKU Public Radio that being in both the majority and minority was beneficial.
"I definitely think it gives you more experience and a better perspective having served in both chambers and having relationships with people in both chambers is a helpful thing," says Gregory.
Looking back on the past session, Gregory says her greatest accomplishment was getting a bill passed that sets up an adult protection registry where prospective employers can see if job applicants have a history of abuse.
If re-elected, she wants to work toward increasing the state’s investment in education.
"That's something I want to continue to see us doing going forward. Investing in education will move our state forward by making it a better place to live, but also from a job creation standpoint, because it's critical to have an educated workforce," Gregory remarks.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday introduced the Stand with Israel Act of 2014. The Kentucky Republican’s legislation halts all U.S. aid to the Palestinian government until they agree to a ceasefire and recognize the right of Israel to exist.
The move comes after Palestine's major political party, Fatah, signed a unity agreement last week with a rival faction, Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel both recognize as a terrorist group.
In a statement on his website, Senator Paul says the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement brings both danger and opportunity to the peace process.
“Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist and that has used terrorist tactics to seek its end. That being said, the new unity government has a chance to put itself on the record as clearly believing in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, as Israel recognizes the right of a Palestinian state to exist,” remarks Paul. “It should also declare an immediate and lasting ceasefire to enable negotiations. If that is accomplished swiftly, the peace process can move forward with two willing partners.”
The bill would cut aid after five weeks unless the Palestinians renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The Obama administration has said it is prepared to suspend U.S. aid to the Palestinians, which amounts to $400 million annually.