Political news

U.S. Marshal Service

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed an inspector general to look into potential illegal activities by the governor’s immediate predecessor. 

A former U.S. Marshal will assist with the investigation of allegations against former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.   

Gov. Bevin appointed Kenneth F. Bohac as the inspector general for the Finance Cabinet.

Bohac is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service. President Barack Obama appointed him U.S. marshal for the Central District of Illinois in 2010.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Thousands of Kentuckians have erroneously received letters notifying them that they would no longer receive state benefits like Medicaid or food stamps.

Meanwhile, access to the new state system that handles those programs has been restricted and service spotty in many instances, leading to long wait times, frustration and a loss of benefits for countless Kentuckians.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

State lawmakers have once again called off budget negotiations, hoping to hammer out a compromise on Thursday.

Lawmakers met in small groups privately on Wednesday afternoon, but they provided no indication that they were any closer to an agreement by the end of the day.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, offered no details of which parts of the budget lawmakers still couldn’t agree on.

Kentucky Budget Negotiations Coming Down to the Wire

Mar 30, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL

Lawmakers are still trying to produce a compromise budget to delineate $22 billion in state spending over the next two years.

Leaders from the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate have spent much of the last week trying to come up with a final version of the budget.

Partisan squabbling and disagreements over how to fix the state’s ailing pension systems and whether to cut higher education spending have complicated negotiations at the closure of the legislative session.


Kentuckians who have committed certain felony offenses would be able to clear their records under a bill that passed the state Senate Tuesday. The bill’s passage marked a milestone for the Senate, which has largely ignored the issue for more than a decade.

The new policy would apply to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Hopkinsville, shepherded the bill through the Senate.

McConnell: Military Coalition Needed to Address Terrorism

Mar 23, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The U.S. Senate Majority Leader believes a military coalition that includes American, European, and Middle Eastern countries could work to reduce terrorism.  Mitch McConnell addressed the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at Eastern Kentucky University.


Kentucky’s higher education institutions would compete for a portion of their state funding under the Senate’s budget proposal, which will be fully unveiled later this week.

The competition would be based on degrees produced, graduation rates, retention rates and closing “achievement gaps” among low-income students and underrepresented minorities.

“Whoever’s excelling deserves to be rewarded,” said Sen. David Givens, a Greensburg Republican and main architect of the policy, which he said would go into effect in 2018.

Administrative Office of the Courts

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton outlined a series of grim consequences if the state House’s proposed budget cuts to the Judicial Branch are approved, including laying off 600 people and trimming programs that keep people out of jail.

“I’m done with being cool and calm and collected. The hair that I have left is on fire,” Minton said to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

The state House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that would create a new class of criminal punishment called “gross misdemeanor.”

Included in the new category would be three crimes that are currently Class D felonies: flagrant non-support (not paying child support), second degree forgery and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Budget Race Begins

Mar 18, 2016
Sean Cannon / WFPL

This week in Kentucky politics, the House of Representatives finally presented its version of the state budget, restoring some spending cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill that would let some people clear felonies from their records.

And the Senate approved a measure that would allow business owners to deny services based on their religious beliefs.

All that and more during this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. Click on the player above to listen. 


Kentuckians with certain Class D felonies would be able to clear their criminal records under a bill that the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved on Thursday.

The legislation would create a process whereby people with Class D felonies could file to have their judgments vacated five years after completing their sentences.


After years of efforts, a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Kentucky received its first legislative hearing on Wednesday.

But it failed to advance the House Judiciary Committee by one vote.

The bill would have replaced the death penalty with life without parole.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

After four special elections for vacant state House of Representatives seats on Tuesday, the chamber is still controlled by Democrats.

Despite months of Democratic hand wringing, the party easily won elections in the districts around Hopkinsville, Georgetown and South Shore in Eastern Kentucky.

Republicans won the special election in Danville in Central Kentucky.


The outcome of four special elections in Kentucky on Tuesday could change the political control of the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South run by Democrats.

If Republicans win all four elections, they would tie the political makeup of the chamber, where Democrats hold 50 seats and Republicans 46. Democrats have held a majority in the House since 1921.

Donald Trump Wins Kentucky GOP Caucus

Mar 5, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Donald Trump has won the Kentucky Republican Caucus, signaling that momentum continues for the New York businessman despite a crescendo of objections from establishment Republicans.

Trump took 35 percent of the vote in Kentucky while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz placed second, taking 31 percent of Kentucky Republican votes.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 17 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had 15 percent.

2016 Ky. Republican Caucus Results

Mar 5, 2016

WEKU will report the final results of the 2016 Kentucky Republican Caucus Sunday morning during Weekend Edition. 

For a live update of results as votes are being tallied, go to the Republican Party of Kentucky website.

Kentucky Republicans Cast Votes For President

Mar 5, 2016
Kevin Willis / WKU Public Radio

Republicans headed to the polls to participate in Kentucky’s GOP presidential caucus on Saturday.

Reports from across the state show bustling crowds in many caucus locations, which were open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

More than 100 caucus-goers lined up in advance of doors opening at Henry Clay High School in Lexington Saturday morning. Organizers said the crowd was “larger than expected,” but no official voter turnout number has been tallied.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Trump Comes to Town

Mar 4, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

This week in Kentucky politics, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson came to town ahead of the Kentucky Republican caucus.

Trump’s rally drew complaints from protesters who say they were aggressively shoved out of the event.

Meanwhile with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky out of the presidential race, expectations have been lowered for the caucus, for which he advocated and helped engineer.

Also, the state legislature is considering a new bill that would add restrictions to abortion facilities in the state.

Creative Commons

Sen. Rand Paul’s great experiment is finally upon us: the Republican presidential caucus.

On Saturday, Kentucky Republicans will head to the polls to vote in the state party’s presidential nomination contest, determining how the state’s 46 delegates will be split up between five active candidates.


KentuckyOne Health, which operates the University of Louisville Hospital, has backed out of an agreement to provide Planned Parenthood patients emergency care in case complications arise during an abortion.

Planned Parenthood attorney Thomas Clay says the organization was told Tuesday by hospital officials they were under incredible pressure from the state to terminate the agreement, and that the hospital's state funding was threatened if they didn't cancel the agreement.

The state requires clinics that provide abortions to keep a transfer agreement with a local hospital in case of unexpected complications.

Jacob Ryan / WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has filed a lawsuit against a second Kentucky abortion provider, alleging the facility provided abortions without a license.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Eubanks & Marshall of Lexington, PSC, which does business as EMW Women’s Clinic. It alleges the clinic wasn’t properly licensed, and didn’t have proper transfer agreements in place with a hospital and ambulance service. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed the lawsuit.

Jacob Ryan / WFPL

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin claims that dismantling the state’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, is going to cost much less than some have estimated.

Bevin’s office released a statement Wednesday saying the net cost to the state of transitioning to the federal exchange will be around $236,000. The governor’s office says the federal share will be $3.7 million.

Some estimates had put the cost to dismantle Kynect at around $23 million.

Ky. Health Secretary Outlines Spending Cuts

Mar 2, 2016

Kentucky’s new health secretary says her state agency will meet proposed budget reductions through a variety of cost-cutting measures, such as not filling vacant positions and cutting back on travel.

Under Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed spending cuts, the cabinet’s budget will be reduced by $64 million over the next two years and $31 million this year.

John Null / WKMS

Senator Rand Paul’s name will appear on the ballot at this Saturday’s Kentucky presidential caucus, even though he ended his White House bid a month ago. 

The names of all the eleven Republican candidates who originally filed to participate in the Kentucky caucus will remain on the ballot. However, signs will be posted at caucus sites informing participants which candidates have dropped out of the race.

Ryland Barton

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stopped in Louisville on Tuesday to rally with supporters in advance of Kentucky’s GOP caucus Saturday.

The event, at the Kentucky International Convention Center downtown, was rowdy and frequently interrupted by protesters. As is typical for his rallies, Trump ordered security to escort the protesters out of the building.

Trump’s speech hit on common themes of his candidacy, from his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to his support for trade tariffs to discourage outsourcing by American companies.


Referees would be able to pull a student athlete out of a game if they suspected the player had a concussion and wasn’t being given a medical evaluation, under a bill under consideration by Kentucky lawmakers.

The legislation passed the House Education committee Tuesday, though several lawmakers expressed concerns it would put too much responsibility on sports officials.

Michael Vadon / Flickr, Creative Commons

A survey shows Donald Trump with a big lead among Kentucky Republicans ahead of the March 5 presidential caucus.

The poll was conducted by the Western Kentucky University Social Science Research Center, and shows Trump with 35 percent support.  Marco Rubio was second with 22 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 15 percent .  John Kasich and Ben Carson are further behind. 

Ryland Barton

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson urged Kentucky Republicans on Monday to choose a “calm” alternative — himself — in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, drawing a contrast to frontrunner Donald Trump.

Carson spoke in Lexington in advance of the Kentucky Republican presidential caucus on Saturday. He said people who are fearful and angry about the state of affairs in Washington, D.C., and the Middle East need to check their emotions.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration has scaled back the Kentucky Horse Park's purchasing authority amid allegations of improper purchasing practices.

The directive from the state Finance Cabinet's secretary comes as a top Senate Republican pushes legislation to revamp the horse park's governing body.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says the Finance Cabinet's findings show his motives are justified in seeking to overhaul the park's commission.


Local ordinances that protect Kentuckians from sexual orientation-based discrimination by businesses would be rendered irrelevant by a bill that passed a Senate committee Thursday.

The measure could have implications for an ongoing lawsuit against a Lexington apparel company that refused on religious grounds to print T-shirts requested by organizers of the city’s gay pride festival.