A public pension reform package is expected to get a vote on the Senate floor about a week after it’s filed, Senate Republican leaders said Wednesday. GOP and Democratic senators heard recommendations from a pension task force co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer in a private meeting Wednesday.
Joining his fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now supports industrial hemp. In a statement released Thursday, McConnell said Paul and Comer—both Republicans, like McConnell—have convinced him that growing hemp for paper, oil and other purposes would be an economic boon for Kentucky farmers.
Liberal and Tea Party groups are denying claims by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign that they are working together to defeat the GOP leader in 2014. In a campaign fundraising e-mail Monday, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told supporters that liberal organizers were "attempting to infiltrate conservative" groups across the state.
A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a big gap between Kentucky’s income levels on who pays taxes. The report says Kentucky’s top 1 percent income bracket pays roughly 5 percent of the state’s income, while the bottom 20 percent pays 9 percent.
Republican leaders in the Louisville Metro Council are headed to Frankfort this week to lobby state lawmakers on pension reform. The city’s pension cost has more than doubled in the past decade to make up approximately 15 percent of the budget. In his State of the City address, Mayor Greg Fischer urged residents to call for their legislators to take action in this year’s session to change the system.
With the news that more than a dozen tea party groups are actively recruiting a GOP candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, it’s worth taking a look at how Kentucky tea party-endorsed candidates have fared in statewide or Congressional races. Since forming in the run up to the 2010 mid-term elections, Kentucky's tea party has won more than a third of the races its challenged for prominent offices, and its candidates have won several primaries over Republican establishment candidates.
State Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge. Photo provided by Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.
Campaigning for the Kentucky House last year, Brian Linder said state lawmakers do not need public pensions. This year, newly elected state Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge, has joined other legislators in the $63 million Legislators Retirement Plan. What happened? Linder and several other conservatives elected to the General Assembly in November said they belatedly learned that lawmakers legally cannot reject their pensions
Despite a request from Gov. Steve Beshear to put off redistricting until later this year in a special session of the General Assembly, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is moving forward with getting proposals on the divisive issue. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Stumbo sent a letter to House members asking them to submit proposed boundaries for new legislative districts by Feb. 1.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission threw its support Monday behind a senate bill that would, among other things, establish a licensing procedure for growers of industrial hemp should the federal government allow for it. This comes as the director of the Kentucky Narcotics Officers' Association argued against steps toward legalizing industrial hemp, citing concerns that hemp would overwhelm state drug-testing labs.
A new poll shows Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is struggling to retain support among voters. The Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll shows that twice as many voters are against McConnell as there are supporting him. It also finds that only one-third of Republicans support him in the 2014 election.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says President Obama's proposal for gun control laws are rational and that he'd like to see new legislation passed. But those comments are in stark contrast to a state law that is forcing changes to the city's definition of deadly weapons and now allow firearms to be carried in city-owned buildings.
Gun owners in Kentucky and around the country have rushed out to buy guns in fear of proposed gun control regulations proposed by President Barack Obama. Obama signed 23 executive orders last week and outlined a plan to tighten federal regulations on guns. He has asked Congress to pass legislation that would require background checks on all firearm purchases, including from private sellers not currently required under federal law. Obama also wants Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and place a limit on high-capacity magazines.
The clock is ticking on the current legislative session, but efforts to push expanded gambling in the 2013 are still on-going, Gov. Steve Beshear said. “I think it’s too early to reach a conclusion yet on whether we will have a bill on expanded gaming, you know we’ve got some issues to be resolved," he said.
Proponents of a local option sales tax have gained big ally in their legislative fight: Gov. Steve Beshear. The local option sales tax would allow cities to levy an additional tax on top of the state’s current six percent sales tax for specific projects, if local voters approved the new tax. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are the chief advocates pushing the idea, arguing their cities would use the extra revenue for infrastructure projects.
Claiming they committed fraud, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has filed a suit against a mortgage company. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, provides a marketplace for banks to trade mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Conway says it was set up by banks to avoid the fees that must be paid when mortgages are sold and to hide the true owners of those mortgages.
At his first meeting as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton he would have fired her over the attacks at a U.S. consulate in Libya. The hearing was the first time Clinton was able to testify about the Benghazi attacks and it was marked by tense exchanges with Republican committee members. Clinton defended her actions, and called out Congress for not adequately funding security requests.
The US House votes today on a Republican proposal to temporarily extend the nation’s debt ceiling. In exchange for forcing Senate Democrats to pass a budget blueprint annually, Republicans are willing to extend the nation’s borrowing limit for three months. And, if there’s no budget House leaders want lawmakers to temporarily forego their pay. Freshman Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie isn’t happy with the bill.
Kentuckian Matthew Barzun will be the U.S. to the United Kingdom if he wants the job, The New York Times has reported, citing donors and adviser to President Obama. Barzun, a former tech executive and major Obama fundraiser, has been the front-runner for the prestigious post since November, The Times reported. If the reports are true, he'd beat out for the job the famed editor of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour.
By Katie Brandenburg and The Daily News Bowling Green and
Children (from left) Nidaya Fraizer, 5, Makyah McMillian, 10, Da'mya Gray, 8, Keriah Cofer-Britt, 9, and Thalia Ruiz, 10, gather around a TV at the Parker Bennett Community Center as President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 in Bowling Green, Ky. Several people gathered at the community center for a Presidential Inauguration watch party, which included free pizza and snacks.
Credit Nathan Morgan/The Daily News
As President Barack Obama took the oath of office Monday for the second time, Bowling Green residents were watching in Kentucky and in Washington, D.C. Children at Parker-Bennett Community Center waved star-shaped noise makers, applauded and snapped pictures on their phones as Obama gave his second inaugural address. The timing of the inauguration made it especially significant for Sierra McKinney, recreation leader at the community center. It took place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
A coalition of more than a dozen Tea Party groups in Kentucky are issuing a stern warning to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell against co-opting the grassroots movement — and they plan to draft a challenger for the 2014 Senate primary. The United Kentucky Tea Party is made up of several independent organizations from across the state. In a press release sent late Monday evening, the group says that McConnell and state Republicans are being "intellectually dishonest" by calling anyone with the GOP leader's campaign personnel a tea party leader.
Actress Ashley Judd says the "people of Kentucky need a fighter" when asked about a potential bid against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2014. The Hollywood celebrity and activist has been flirting with a run for public office for months, and made the comments at the the Kentucky Society of Washington's Bluegrass Ball this weekend.
Sen. Rand Paul said he will oppose a measure the U.S. Senate will take up this week for payments to areas of the Northeast affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Northeast does need help after the storm, but he would like to offset the costs with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal government, he said.
Sen. Rand Paul, left, talks with World War II veteran John Hammond at the Frankfort Rotary Club meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Credit Dylan Buell/The State Journal
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told a packed room Wednesday in the Capital Plaza Hotel that he would oppose any effort by President Barack Obama to “usurp the Second Amendment” through executive order. “I would fight that with every bone in my body,” Paul, R-Ky., told members of the Frankfort Rotary Club. Obama signed 23 executive orders Wednesday in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre and other recent shootings. He also said he planned to push for legislation to ban assault weapons, limit high-capacity magazines and expand background checks.
Fresh off a trip to Israel, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says his mission was to prove he is an ally of the Middle Eastern nation. Many pro-Israel groups have been wary of the senator, because of his calls to reduce foreign aid. Paul’s father, Ron Paul, the former U.S. representative and Republican presidential candidate, also had a frosty relationship with pro-Israel groups.
President BarackObama’s gun control speech is being praised by supporters as a bold step, but the White House acknowledges that sweeping reforms will require support from pro gun areas like Kentucky in order to pass Congress. Surrounded by a group of elementary school students Wednesday, the president signed 23 executive actions to enforce current laws. He also urged Congress to pass a number of legislative measures such as a ban on military-style assault weapons and armor piercing bullets.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he'll examine President Obama's just-announced executive orders to see if the president has overstepped his authority — and, if he believes so, will introduce legislation to overturn the orders. “Executive orders can be overturned and cannot run afoul of legislation that is the current law, if he tries to create legislation, I will oppose him,” Paul said on Wednesday.
If a federal judge's ruling goes into effect, businesses that sell liquor in Kentucky may see increased competition — and those businesses are encouraging legislators to act before an appeals decision comes down. Judge John Heyburn tossed the laws last year, saying it was unconstitutional to allow places like drug stores to sell some wine and liquor, but not groceries.
Credit Legislative Research Commission/Metro Louisville
State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, has introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would give cities a local option sales tax. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has been a major proponent of the measure, which allows local voters to decide whether to fund special projects through a temporary sales tax increase. The mayor recently outlined the measure for Metro Council members, saying it gives Louisville more independence.