Offering an alternative to President Obama and his American Jobs Act, a trio of Senate Republicans have drafted a “Real American Jobs Act” they will present on Thursday. The legislation is being spearheaded by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has joined Sen. Rob Portman, R-Oh., and Sen. John McCain, R-Az., to propose less labor and environment regulation, lower taxes, expand free trade and enact a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
With President Obama's $447 billion dollar jobs bill failing to clear a supermajority hurdle yesterday, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell says the country avoided another catastrophic stimulus bill. But a handful of McConnell's constituents decided to take their dissatisfaction to his Lexington office.
For the first time in this year’s race for Kentucky governor, the three candidates appeared together in a debate. The hour long political event at Eastern Kentucky University featured, as predicted, produced accusations, assertions, and rebuttals. Within the brand-spanking-new, E-K-U Center for the Arts, Governor Steve Beshear, Republican David Williams, and Independent Gatewood Galbraith each stood at a podium beneath three oversized American flags.
During an appearance with Kentucky Public Radio Tuesday, Republican attorney general candidate Todd P’Pool said he believes Democratic incumbent Jack Conway has a conflict of interest regarding the pending hospital merger. Conway has asked for more information about the proposed merger of University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives.
State Rep. W. Keith Hall was fined and reprimanded by a legislative ethics panel Tuesday after he admitted the panel had evidence sufficient to convict him of violating state ethics laws. The ethics probe centered around work a company owned by Hall did on a sewer line extension project in 2005. Hall voted to approve the state budget which contained coal severance tax funding earmarked for water and sewer projects. A portion of that money found its way to Hall’s company via its work installing electrical boxes as part of the sewer extension.
Urban County Council members sparred over the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund Tuesday. The issue could come to a public referendum. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as envisioned by the committee tasked with exploring it, would need around four million dollars of dedicated funding every year. The committee determined the best way to pay for the fund would be a 1-percent raise in the insurance premium tax, or an increase of about $30 dollars a year for the average household. Councilman Chris Ford said the need for more affordable housing is very real.
A plan to re-draw Lexington's Urban County Council Districts is on a path to formal passage, which would put 33,000 residents in a new district. The proposal will get a first reading at the council's meeting on Thursday and a second reading on October 27. If approved, 32 Fayette County precincts would switch to new council districts. The new boundaries are necessary because of population growth and shifts over the past ten years.
Rumors of a "wet" petition circulating in Barbourville are now more than rumors. According to a local attorney, a petition calling for a local option vote in Knox County is now being circulated in the community."I represent several business people in Knox County. They feel it is time to get the sale of alcohol out of the alleys and hollows," said Barbourville attorney Randy Jewell. "They feel it will further business interests. But their primary concern is the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages to minors and, with bootleggers, typically there is more being sold than alcohol."
The Kentucky secretary of state is predicting low turnout for the general election, but state officials are still encouraging residents to register to vote before the deadline expires Tuesday. During the May primary, voter turnout was an abysmal 10 percent and many expect a similar result due to the wide margin in the governor’s race. Secretary of State Elaine Walker says the initial data shows turnout will once again be low for the fall election.
People who want to participate in the upcoming Kentucky election this November have until the end of business Tuesday to register to vote. According to Kentucky Revised Statute 116.045(2), the final day to register for the Nov. 8 election is Tuesday, pushed ahead by one day because of the federal holiday Columbus Day.
Speaker of the House John Boehner will visit Kentucky at the end of the month. Boehner will speak at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center on the 31st. The Ohio Congressman has been a central figure in American politics over the last three years as one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington. He was a key player in the recent debt ceiling negotiations, and has been a leader in the GOP opposition to President Obama.
A prominent Tea Party leader who called on the Republican Party of Kentucky to ditch gubernatorial nominee David Williams says the recommendation wasn’t personal, but Williams’s inner circle is spotlighting some disparaging comments he made about the GOP nominee.
A North Carolina law professor has filed an ethics complaint against the Washington, D.C. law firm that insinuated inbreeding was responsible for birth defects in Appalachia. The law firm made the comments while trying to refute a study connecting mountaintop removal to birth defect rates. Law firm Crowell and Moring raised several issues with the study’s methodology, including that the authors failed to account for consanguinity—or inbreeding—which can also cause birth defects.
In the race for attorney general of Kentucky, Democratic incumbent Jack Conway released his first television ads Wednesday, highlighting cyber crime and fiscal responsibility. The first 30-second spot entitled “Predators” features Conway speaking directly to voters about the cyber crimes unit in his office. It says the attorney general’s office has worked to take over 300,000 pornographic images of children off the Internet and launched nearly 200 new investigations.
California’s U.S. senators are calling on Kentucky’s Rand Paul to stop holding up a pipeline safety bill. The Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act was introduced in February, several months after a gas pipeline burst in San Bruno, California and killed eight people. Paul has placed a procedural hold on the bill, which means it can’t be fast-tracked and needs 60 votes to overcome the hurdle. In an interview last week, Paul said he didn’t think new regulations should be created without an adequate amount of debate.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election strategy is drawing increased criticism from political opponents and media outlets. Both of the state’s major newspapers (Courier-Journal editoral, column; Herald-Leader) have written editorials slamming Beshear for skipping a KET debate on education. He has also declined an invitation to appear at an AARP forum. Recently, the governor changed his mind and skipped an event in west Louisville, where he won by a significant margin in 2007. He has also declined invitations to appear alone on WFPL and WHAS radio.
In the race for governor of Kentucky, Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear has widened his already commadning lead over Republican David Williams to a crushing 31 point margin. The SurveyUSA was conducted in late September and shows Beshear with 57 percent to Williams with 26 percent and independent Gatewood Galbraith with 8 percent among likely voters. The poll shows 9 percent of voters still undecided.
Hardin County Clerk Kenny Tabb said every wet-dry election he has overseen has drawn at least 50 percent voter turnout, but Tuesday’s three special option elections in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove may kick the trend. Tabb thinks the prevalence of alcohol in Elizabethtown and Radcliff restaurants may lead to a reduction in voter interest, though he said it will be impossible to tell until the polls close Tuesday night.
Public officials are responding to the announcement that the repair of the Sherman Minton Bridge will cost $20 million and take an estimated six months. The 50-year-old span connecting Kentucky to Indiana has been shut down since September 9 due to a crack found in its load bearing structure. The announcement was made by the governors of both states on Friday, following weeks of inspection.
The public's fear of voter fraud has led more states in the past 10 years to require photo identification of voters, a national expert testified before state legislators Tuesday. Whether Kentucky should require a photo ID at the polls has become a campaign issue in the Kentucky secretary of state race and has been pondered by lawmakers. Voter ID laws have spread across the country in the past 10 years more rapidly than most election issues, said Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures, who spoke Tuesday before the legislative Interim Joint Task Force on Elections.
Residents of Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove got a glimpse of what their cities might look like should voters choose yes next Tuesday in the wet-dry elections. The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control held an informational forum Monday at the Historic State Theater, where it walked through the licensing process and limitations should the cities go wet.
Lancaster and Garrard County officials swapped opinions Monday about creating a commission to study a merged charter-county form of government. Representatives from the Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Association of Counties, Bluegrass Area Development District and Department for Local Government attended Monday’s meeting at the request of the Lancaster City Council to offer answers and opinions.
An Ohio-based organization is planning to run ads in Kentucky supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams, but it’s unclear who is funding the group. Restoring America registered with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Monday, but little else is known about the group other than its Ohioan supporters and a filing address listed at a UPS store in Lexington.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a statement responding to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who visited Louisville on Monday to support President Obama’s jobs bill. Geithner toured the UPS air hub and said if Congress would pass the American Jobs Act it would help local companies by investing $450 million in Kentucky railways, roads and aviation. But McConnell says if the White House is serious about job creation it will give up the jobs plan and go in the opposite direction.
The US Senate passed a temporary spending bill that averts a government shutdown this weekend, but they did it without help from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. One senator likened the deal to a “magic” happening at the last minute. Now the government will have its coffers refilled. This budget fight hinged on whether to pay for federal disaster assistance immediately after an emergency or put off those payments until a later date.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says President Barack Obama’s jobs bill would help business grow by investing in Kentucky railways, roads and aviation. Geithner toured the UPS air hub, Worldport, in Louisville on Monday and said in order to improve the struggling economy, business needs help. Geithner’s appearance to promote Mr. Obama’s American Jobs Act was the third by a White House cabinet member in the past week.
In the race for governor of Kentucky, Republican David Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith will square off during a televised debate Monday focusing on education. The forum will air statewide on Kentucky Education Television, but will not include Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear, who declined to appear. Education advocates are pleased with the focus on education, but there are mixed reviews about the governor’s decision to skip the forum, which the Lexington Herald Leader derided as “arrogant” and showing a lack of respect for voters.