All Politics are Local

9:40am

Tue March 12, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Passes Military Voting Bill

A bill designed  to allow Kentuckians in the military deployed overseas vote electronically has cleared the House, after amendments returned Senate Bill 1 to a full electronic system. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is the main promoter of the bill and urged House lawmakers to return to full electronic provisions after the Senate did not include the electronic return of a ballot.

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4:41pm

Mon March 11, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Approves Dropout Bill Compromise

Credit Creative Commons

The Kentucky House approved on Monday legislation that gradually raises the age when students can drop out of school—a compromise reached after past efforts to strike a deal failed. The dropout bill allows  local school boards to choose whether to raise the dropout age to 18. After 55 percent of Kentucky's school boards raise the drop out limit, the change in four years becomes mandatory statewide.

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10:13am

Mon March 11, 2013
All Politics are Local

Kentucky House Leaders Still Pushing Redistricting

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

Kentucky's legislative leaders have hope they can finish redistricting before the current session ends later this month. New legislative districts were drafted and passed last year to reflect the 2010 Census. A judge threw them out, however, saying lawmakers did not properly divide up the state.

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1:15pm

Sun March 10, 2013
All Politics are Local

Pension Reform Talks Continue

House and Senate leaders met with Gov. Steve Beshear Friday, looking to find common ground on a plan to reform Kentucky’s ailing public pension system and avoid a special session this year. Those involved described the meeting as productive, and talks are expected to continue during the upcoming 10-day veto recess. The two legislative chambers have passed fundamentally different retirement plans for future state and municipal workers, and the House has proposed a dedicated funding stream to pay full pension contributions, something the state has not done in years.

12:24pm

Fri March 8, 2013
All Politics are Local

NRSC Slams Ashley Judd's Residency

Republicans Attack Judd's residency
Credit NRSC

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is mocking actress Ashley Judd's lack of residency in Kentucky as she considers a bid against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. In the faux fundraising e-mail, the NRSC asks potential donors to help Judd find a place to live in the Bluegrass state.

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11:36am

Fri March 8, 2013
All Politics are Local

Religious Freedom Bill Goes to Beshear

Sen. Neal
Credit Rae Hodge / WFPL News

After a lengthy partisan battle that lasted hours into the night, a bill that would allow Kentuckians to ignore laws that they say violate their religious beliefs cleared the state Senate. Supporters say the "Religious Freedom Act" sponsored by Rep. Robert Damron, D-Nicholasville, would protect religion from government encroachment. WFPL's Phillip Bailey reported earlier this week:

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2:06pm

Thu March 7, 2013
All Politics are Local

McConnell Praises Rand Paul for Filibuster

Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell at a Tea Party rally in Kentucky
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is praising his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster, and is now opposing President Obama's nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency. Paul held up the confirmation of John Brennan for CIA director using an old-school filibuster. He continually asked for the administration to promise they will not use armed unmanned aircrafts to kill American citizens on U.S. soil.

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2:00pm

Thu March 7, 2013
All Politics are Local

Health Sharing Bill Clears House Committee

Credit File photo

A bill reauthorizing a Christian health sharing ministry in Kentucky has cleared a House committee after the insertion into the bill a provision for more disclosure to possible members of the group. Senate Bill 3, known as the Medi-Share bill, would re-legalize Christian Care Medi-Share to operate in Kentucky after courts ruled them illegal and kicked them out.

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1:26pm

Thu March 7, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Objects to Special Taxing District Changes

Damon Thayer
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Changes to a bill reforming how special taxing districts operate in Kentucky could kill the legislation in the final days of the General Assembly session. State Sen. Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican and the majority floor leader, introduced the changes in committee on Wednesday which give local governments veto powers over possible rate increases by special districts. Those changes later passed off the Senate floor.

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1:21pm

Thu March 7, 2013
All Politics are Local

Human Trafficking Bill Passes Senate Committee

Sannie Overly
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A bill that would strengthen Kentucky's human trafficking laws has passed a Senate committee and appears ready to finally become law. House Bill 3 is sponsored by state Rep. Sannie Overly, a Paris Democrat and the House majority caucus chair.. It's consider so-called "safe harbor legislation," which would require treatment for victims of human trafficking instead of legal ramifications, such as prostitution or immigration charges.

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1:53pm

Wed March 6, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Committee Passes Redistricting Maps

Credit Kentucky General Assembly

The House State Government committee has advanced a new redistricting map to the House floor after weeks of closed door debate. Last year's state House and Senate districts were ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court after House GOP members challenged them in court. The new House districts would create seven new districts all across Kentucky, where no current lawmakers reside.

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1:51pm

Wed March 6, 2013
All Politics are Local

Kentucky Senate Approves Charter School Bill

Credit File photo

Voting along strict party lines, the Kentucky Senate has approved a bill that would allow persistently low-performing public schools to become charter schools. Under the legislation, school officials would submit applications to the local board of education to turn a school into a charter, the board of education would decide whether to allow them to become a charter school. A two-thirds majority vote by the school board would decide whether a school would become a charter school.

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1:49pm

Wed March 6, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Committee Passes Hemp Bill

James Comer
Credit File photo

FRANKFORT — In its second try, the Kentucky House agriculture committee approved a bill Wednesday creating a regulatory framework for growing hemp in Kentucky, if the federal government were to legalize it. The hemp bill—championed by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer—got only one no vote in the House agriculture committee.

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2:27pm

Tue March 5, 2013
All Politics are Local

Human Rights Commission, Civil Rights Groups Oppose 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Executive Director John J. Johnson
Credit Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Joining other civil rights group, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is urging Governor Steve Beshear to block a bill that would allow people to ignore laws and regulations violating their religious beliefs. Last week, the Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly approved HB 279 by an 82-7 vote. It has now moved on the state Senate, where observers predict it is likely to pass in the GOP-controlled chamber.

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11:54am

Tue March 5, 2013
All Politics are Local

Beshear Signs Pill Mill Fix Legislation

Credit Melanie Tata/Creative Commons

Gov. Steve Beshear signed on Tuesday legislation aimed at "fixing" 2012's crackdown on pill mills. The so-called pill mill fix bill, House Bill 217, exempts hospitals and long term care facilities from constantly running prescribing reports on patients in their care.

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5:48pm

Mon March 4, 2013
All Politics are Local

Libertarian Party Leader Says Members Open to Supporting Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd
Credit File photo

  The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky says his members could be persuaded to vote for Ashley Judd over Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, but the Hollywood actress needs to distance herself from President Obama. Judd has met with Democratic donors in Louisville and courted state leaders such as Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, in recent weeks.

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5:44pm

Mon March 4, 2013
All Politics are Local

Obama Nominates New Heads of EPA, Energy Department

Gina McCarthy
Credit EPA

President Obama has nominated Gina McCarthy to succeed Lisa Jackson as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz as his new energy secretary. McCarthy was the head of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation under Lisa Jackson, and spearheaded the administration's efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants and increase fuel standards.

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5:42pm

Mon March 4, 2013
All Politics are Local

Smoking Ban Supporters Make Second Pitch to Legislators

Credit Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin/Wikimedia Commons

Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are once again trying to persuade a House committee to pass the the legislation this session. The House Judiciary Committee is the second committee—after House Health and Welfare—to hear the smoking ban bill sponsored by State Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat.

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12:28pm

Sun March 3, 2013
All Politics are Local

Time Running Out for General Assembly to Pass Priority Bills

Credit File Photo

As the 2013 legislative session winds down, the top priorities for each chamber are still stuck in the process and not yet law. House Bill 1 would reform special districts in Kentucky and centralize financing reporting aspects for the districts. The legislation is supported by Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat. But the legislation is likely to undergo changes that Edelen has yet to support, including giving more oversight of the districts to local governments.

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2:19pm

Fri March 1, 2013
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Pension Bills in 'Legislative Purgatory' as Both Chambers Argue Over Procedure

Robert Stivers and Greg Stumbo
Credit Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT — Arguments over how to reform and pay for Kentucky's underfunded pension systems have devolved into legislative chaos. Both the Kentucky House and the Senate are refusing bills addressing pensions, citing legal or procedural reasons. And leading legislators are blaming each other.

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2:09pm

Fri March 1, 2013
All Politics are Local

Libertarian Party of Kentucky Holding Annual Convention This Weekend

Libertarian Party of Kentucky
Credit lpky.org

The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is gathering in Bowling Green this weekend for its annual convention. Last year, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson received less than one percent of the vote in Kentucky and the party has no officeholders at the state or federal level.

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11:08am

Fri March 1, 2013
All Politics are Local

Pension Fixes in Limbo as Leaders Argue Over Approaches

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

A House bill aiming to help generate revenues for the underfunded pension system is in legal limbo as the Senate refused to accept the bill. House Bill 416 takes revenues from expansion of Instant Racing and online lottery sales and the start of a Keno game to generate close to $100 million a year to pay into state's currently underfunded pensions for state employees.

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3:38pm

Thu February 28, 2013
All Politics are Local

Seniors Rally Against Nursing Home Bill

Credit WFPL File Photo

FRANKFORT — More than 100 senior citizens and advocates rallied Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in support of several bills before the Kentucky General Assembly—and against one bill in particular. They urged Kentucky lawmakers to oppose  legislation that creates a panel to review lawsuits against nursing homes and requires those filing suits to pay fees to submit their case to the panel, said Cathy Murphy, associate state director for the AARP.

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3:10pm

Thu February 28, 2013
All Politics are Local

Greg Stumbo Says Ashley Judd is a 'Formidable' Candidate

Ashley Judd
Credit U.S. Navy

After dismissing the idea last fall, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is warming to the idea of actress Ashley Judd running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Judd has begun reaching out to Kentucky Democratic leaders;  Stumbo said on Thursday that he'll tell Judd that, should she enter, the race is winnable. "Ashley Judd, if she chooses to get into this race, will be a formidable candidate by the time the race is over I'm convinced of that," Stumbo said.

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2:48pm

Thu February 28, 2013
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Yarmuth Praises Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says the passage of the Violence Against Women Act is a major victory for millions of American women. The House reauthorized the measure with a bipartisan coalition of 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans. After months of delay and public pressure, GOP leaders surprised observers by allowing a vote on the House floor Thursday.

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5:47pm

Wed February 27, 2013
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State House Agriculture Committee Chair Blocks Vote on Hemp Bill

Tom McKee
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House Agriculture Committee chairman blocked a vote on the hemp bill on Wednesday morning after a tense exchange with a Republican supporter of the legislation. The hemp bill would create a regulatory framework in Kentucky, should the federal government legalize it. Rep. Tom McKee, the ag committee chairman and a Cynthiana Democrat, wanted to amend the bill to turn it into a study, which the bill's supporters oppose.

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5:42pm

Wed February 27, 2013
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Adam Edelen Encourages Lawmakers Not to Amend Taxing Districts Bill

Adam Edelen
Credit File photo

State Auditor Adam Edelen is encouraging Senate lawmakers not to tweak the special district taxing district reform bill, which is largely based on his proposals from a report last year. The Senate State and Local Government committee discussed the bill for more than an hour, but did not vote on House Bill 1 because Sen. Damon Thayer says he's attempting to amend the bill.  Thayer's main concerns are giving control of a new registry of special districts to the Department of Local Government and that local elected officials often don't have control of a special district.

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5:39pm

Wed February 27, 2013
All Politics are Local

Democratic Supporters Pulling Back From Progress Kentucky

Credit progresskentucky.com

The liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky is moving forward with a planned fundraiser despite a national backlash over controversial attacks on the ethnicity of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's wife. However, many Democratic lawmakers who were once behind the group are either pulling their support or questioning if they will continue to back them.

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5:37pm

Wed February 27, 2013
All Politics are Local

Ashley Judd Reaching Out to State House Democratic Leaders

Ashley Judd
Credit File photo

Ashley Judd has begun reaching out to Kentucky House Democratic leaders as she continues to explore a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Judd has called House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark asking for a meeting, Clark said. She also called and left a message on House Speaker Greg Stumbo's cell phone—but asked to speak with House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins. Stumbo said he's returned the call but hasn't heard back.

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2:27pm

Tue February 26, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Committee Makes Changes to Pension Reform Bill

Credit WFPL File Photo

The state pension system would not transition to a hybrid 401K-style plan in an amended version of the pension reform bill. The amended bill also only allows plans to set up a new 11-person committee to provide direct oversight over the pension systems. And cost of living adjustments are no longer banned under the bill, but can only be allowed if there is a surplus in the retirement systems or if lawmakers prepay for the expense.

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