In the first poll of the 2011 Kentucky gubernatorial election, Democratic Governor Steve Beshear holds a strong 21-point lead over Republican challenger and state Senate President David Williams. During the primary campaign, early polls showed Williams trailing the governor by a smaller margin, but since then Beshear has launched a number of radio and television advertisements and observers had been highlighting the GOP nominees high negatives.
In a statement released on his campaign website, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., accuses Republican Andy Barr of supporting a “radical agenda to end Medicare” as a way to balance the federal budget. Barr announced his candidacy earlier today, setting up a potential rematch between the 37-year-old Lexington attorney and three-term incumbent. In 2010, Barr came within 648 votes of unseating Chandler in a political nail biter.
After losing by less than 700 votes in last year’s general election, Republican Andy Barr will challenge Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler again in 2012. The 37-year-old Lexington attorney is a rising star in the Kentucky GOP ranks and surprised political observers by coming within a razor-thin margin of beating Chandler, a popular incumbent and grandson of a former governor.
The Department of Agriculture is asking the state Personnel Board to deny a request for investigation into whether two political appointees were illegally hired into protected positions. Personnel Board Vice Chairman Larry B. Gillis said that a probe is needed to determine whether Danita Fentress-Laird and Kathryn Willis were transferred from positions as politically appointed division directors into positions protected by the state's merit system without following normal procedures. A response by the Department of Agriculture said the Personnel Cabinet had reviewed the decisions and found no wrongdoing.
In an interview with conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett Tuesday, Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams endorsed the controversial steps taken by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as necessary measures given the state’s labor union laws. During the discussion, Williams was asked which governors he admired most and named Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. The question turned to the recent actions taken by Walker, who was embroiled in a fight with labor unions earlier this year after a vote successfully curtailed public employee bargaining rights as a way to balance the Wisconsin state budget.
Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann says his 2010 decision to donate to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s campaign for the U.S. Senate was driven by frustration and fear. Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC for donating to Conway and Arizona representatives Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva.
A group of wealthy Americans are marking the ten-year anniversary of the tax cuts signed into law by former President George W. Bush by calling for an end to the reductions for people making over $1 million. The group Patriotic Millionaires sent a video message to members of Congress Tuesday asking lawmakers to raise their taxes in order to help reduce the deficit. But Republican leaders have said any discussion about tax increases are a non-starter and Democratic support for the break has been solid.
Reminding voters he cut his own salary and over a $1 billion in spending to balance the state’s budget, Democratic Governor Stever Beshear has unveiled a second television advertisement in his re-election bid against Republican state Senate President David Williams. Entitled “Leading by example”, the 30-second commercial began airing statewide Monday, and highlights cost-cutting measures the governor has advocated during the national recession.
In the past week, several Kentucky politicians have spoken out against the federal Environmental Protection Agency and what they call its “war on coal.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Governor Steve Beshear and State Representative Jim Gooch Jr. have all complained that EPA regulation is endangering the state’s coal industry.
Today, Kentucky police officers may arrest for misdemeanors such as possession of marijuana or disorderly conduct. Beginning Wednesday, police may only cite some misdemeanors rather than arrest. Gov. Steve Beshear signed House Bill 463 into law March 3. The bill is designed to decrease prison population, incarceration costs and recidivism. Section 46 of the bill covers arrestable offenses and makes significant changes to what misdemeanor offenses local law enforcement can and cannot arrest for.
Evidence indicating former state lawmaker Steve Nunn engaged the services of prostitutes less than a week before he is alleged to have killed his former fiancée will be allowed at his murder trial, Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled Thursday. The judge said prosecution evidence showing contacts between Nunn and women from an online service in August and September 2009, just before the Sept. 11, 2009, shooting death of 29-year-old Amanda Ross, was relevant to the case. Defense attorneys had sought to have the information excluded from the trial.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed a new law that aims to boost revenue and beautify neighborhoods. When a property is vacant and falls into a state of disrepair, city governments often cut grass and board up windows, then fine the owner for the work. In Louisville, Metro Government has spent millions keeping up empty houses, but only $800,000 has been repaid. That’s because the city couldn’t collect from property owners until banks and other creditors got their share.
Residents in the city of Wallins will soon be faced with a petition to dissolve their long defunct city. It is the county that plans to go door-to-door to gather signatures. The petition will mark the start of a legal process to formally dissolve the city by circuit judge’s order. “No one ran for anything in the city during the last race for offices in the county,” said Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop. “That is telling of where people are. They have accepted the fact that Wallins can not go back to what it was.”
After being criticized in a New York Times editorial for crossing the church-state divide, the controversial Ark Encounter has a supporter in state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who is proud the park is being built in his district.
The current Speaker of the US House along with three other former Speakers are scheduled to appear as part of the first Henry Clay week event in Lexington. The annual Student Congress, which attracts rising college seniors from across the country will also be held in June. Speaker of the House John Boehner, former speaker and current democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi plus former speakers Dennis Hastert and Jim Wright will all participate in a moderated conversation June 24th.
From Jan. 1 to April 30 of this year, nearly $7 million was spent lobbying Kentucky's lawmakers, according to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. In its monthly report, "Ethics Reporter," KLEC reports more than $6.1 million was spent as compensation to 630 lobbyists during the first four months of 2011. Reports filed by employers and legislative agents are compiled at the Legislative Ethics Commission’s website at: http://klec.ky.gov/reports/employersagents.htm.
After completing his first city budget, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has warned Metro Council and non-profit groups about painful cuts to come. The mayor addressed city lawmakers last week, outlining how his administration filled a $22.5 million shortfall using a number of stopgaps. But in the future, the city faces tough choices as Metro Government expenses outpace revenue and present officials with tough choices on the horizon.
Days after filibustering on the U.S. Senate floor against an extension of the USA Patriot Act last week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., reflected on a busy week. “I was worn out,” Paul said Friday. Paul filibustered for two days last week, one of which was spent silently, sitting at his desk on the Senate floor.
The cancellation of Richie Farmer’s divorce hearing is either a sign he and his wife want to settle privately or don't have issues that warrant a judge's attention, attorneys and others say. Farmer and his wife, Rebecca, had been scheduled to appear before Franklin Family Court Judge Squire Williams III on Thursday, but a one-sentence document in the case said the hearing had been canceled by mutual agreement.
Eastern Kentucky University and Centre College in Kentucky have both been visited by members of the Commission on Presidential Debates. The two institutions both applied to host debates in next year’s presidential race. Officials with the schools confirmed today that members of the commission visited both campuses to tour potential venues.
Less than a day after the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Governor Steve Beshear organized a meeting between state pension fund representatives and his political supporters, the Republican Party of Kentucky is pouncing on the scandal. GOP Chairman Steve Robertson questioned why Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway has made no inquiry into the scandal, which involves managing the commonwealth’s multi-billion dollar pension funds for state and county employees.
Believing a public debate is longer overdue and that Congress has never provided proper oversight, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says he will vote against extending provisions of the Patriot Act when it comes before the House. The Senate is currently debating a four-year extension of the controversial anti-terrorism surveillance law, which was approved a month after the attacks of September 11, but has been criticized by many as unconstitutional.
At the request of the attorney general, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an executive order to extend price gouging consumer protection laws by an additional 30 days. The initial protections implemented by Beshear in response to last month’s severe storms and flooding are set to expire May 26. The extension will allow state officials to investigate into any complaints of price gouging that may occur relative to gas, building supplies, hotels and other goods and services.
Serving as Lynch’s first female mayor since being appointed in September, Darlene Monhollen resigned that position at a special called meeting of the Lynch City Council on Tuesday. Monhollen’s letter of resignation was read to council members by mayor pro tem Anne Carr. Monhollen cited health problems as the reason for her leaving. Council member Taylor Hall was appointed to fill Monhollen’s position until the November election.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is seeking an exemption to conflict-of-interest rules. Paul is an ophthalmologist and he’s been performing eye surgeries for free at his Bowling Green practice since taking office. Senate rules prohibit members from being paid for other employment, but Paul is asking his colleagues to allow him to bill patients only to cover surgery expenses such as insurance. Paul continues to perform surgeries so he can keep his skills sharp.