Kentucky’s Democratic governor says implementing the Affordable Care Act is “the morally right thing to do.”
Kentucky is the only southern state both expanding Medicaid and operating a state-based health exchange.
Appearing Thursday on the national radio show "The Takeaway," Governor Steve Beshear said Kentucky can’t afford not to do it.
“We have some of the worst health statistics in the country," explained Beshear. "If there’s some way I can attack that and change the course of history in Kentucky on health care, I’m going to do it, and the Affordable Care Act gives me a historic opportunity and a tool to do just that.”
Kentucky state Representative Will Coursey’s lawyer says the legislator is likely to file a countersuit against claims that he sexually harassed a former legislative assistant.
Paducah Attorney Mark Edwards says the Democratic lawmaker denies Nicole Cusic’s allegations that he sexually harassed interns and Legislative Research Commission employees in February 2012.
"According to the things that we’ve been told, the allegations only came up after Cusic was confronted by one of the Republican Senators in that Republican senator suite about a relationship Cusic had with a member of the Democratic leadership at the time, not Will Coursey, and that they were concerned about her working there," said Edwards. "And upon the advice of the Republican senator, it was suggested to her that she retain counsel."
Cusic’s lawyer, Thomas Clay, says other LRC employees agree with her allegations of Coursey’s behavior. Edwards says he is not sure whether Coursey will file a countersuit or a separate suit for defamation and possibly for abusive process and malicious prosecution.
Coursey has about a week to respond to Cusic’s allegations.
Many federal employees will go without a paycheck during the government’s partial shutdown, but the 533 members of Congress will continue to be paid. Congressional pay is protected by the U.S. Constitution, but some lawmakers don’t think it’s fair.
Kentucky’s Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie, a Republican from Bowling Green, is asking that his pay be withheld, and if the stalemate isn’t resolved by the end of the month, he will decide what to do with the money.
“As thousands of federal employees in Kentucky are not being paid during the shutdown, I have submitted paperwork to the House asking that my pay be suspended during this time,” replied Guthrie. “Some of my colleagues have instead chosen to donate their salaries to charity. My family has a strong commitment to charitable giving and I prefer to keep these donations private and not linked to politics.”
For Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, a Louisville Democrat, pay isn’t an issue.
“He has donated every cent of his Congressional salary to Louisville charities every year he's been in Congress,” spokesman Stephen George said in an email.
WKU Public Radio contacted the offices of the rest of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, but were not able to reach their spokespeople. Emails were not returned, and recorded phone messages and website statements there would be delays in any correspondence until the government resumes normal operations.
Top Kentucky lawmakers have appointed an acting director for the Legislative Research Commission and took the first step toward reviewing the fact-finding and service agency for legislators. The action comes amid scrutiny of how the LRC handled sexual harassment complaints against a former lawmaker.
House and Senate leaders meeting Wednesday appointed Marcia Seiler as acting LRC director. Seiler is director of the Office of Education Accountability.
Bobby Sherman recently resigned as LRC director. State police are investigating whether any laws were broken when Sherman returned to his office and shredded documents after his resignation.
Two legislative workers have filed a lawsuit accusing former state Rep. John Arnold of sexual harassment.
The lawmakers also agreed to approach the National Conference of State Legislatures about conducting a performance audit of the LRC.
Kentucky state senator Bob Leeper says he will not run for re-election in 2014. The Independent senator says the decision to step away from office was a hard one.
"It's a complete change of course so it's not easy to do, but there comes a time when you realize it's time to give someone else a chance," Leeper comments. "There's a lot of good people out here I think may step up and run, and I look forward to seeing who makes that decision."
Leeper has represented Ballard, McCracken and Marshall counties in the state legislature for more than two decades. Before the state Senate, he served as Paducah City Commissioner and practiced as a chiropractor. Leeper says he will return to medicine when his term is up next December.