Political news


Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign, saying that he’ll focus his energy on running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.”

The pressure for Paul to drop out of the presidential race had been mounting after spending much of the past six months polling in the single digits.

Paul finished fifth in the Iowa Republican Caucus, taking 4.5 percent of the vote.

Associated Press

It was quick, albeit unorthodox, when Kentucky's governor signed into law an abortion bill as soon as a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him.

The first bill signed by Gov. Matt Bevin since taking office updates the state's informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.

The bill gives patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.

Gary Burke / Flickr

State legislators are once again being called upon to allow casino gambling in Kentucky as a way to pump revenue into the ailing pension systems for public employees.

Expanded gaming has been pushed during legislative sessions for years as an answer to Kentucky’s financial woes, but it’s never gotten enough traction to pass.

That doesn’t mean the supporters will stop pushing. On Tuesday, Greater Louisville Inc. announced its support for a bill proposed by two Louisville state senators. In a news release, GLI noted that Kentucky loses tax revenue each year to casinos in bordering states.

“These are dollars that could be going toward our state deficit and our significant pension obligations,” GLI President Kent Oyler said in the news release.


State House Democrats say they likely will not approve $650 million worth of state spending cuts as outlined in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's budget proposal.

The resistance sets up a budget battle one month ahead of four special elections that could shift the balance of power in the legislature.


The “informed consent” abortion bill is heading to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.

The state Senate concurred on Monday with the House’s version of the legislation, which would require women seeking an abortion to meet with a doctor 24 hours in advance of the procedure in person or over live video.

The bill, which passed the Senate 33-5, would be Bevin’s first signed into law.


Kentucky Democrats have chosen state Rep. Sannie Overly as party chairwoman after a two and a half month search.

The Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Committee unanimously elected Overly its new chairwoman Saturday. Overly is a state representative from Paris and chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, the first woman to ever hold that position. She was Jack Conway's running mate during his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.


Governor Matt Bevin has made his first official budget proposal, an outline of how the state should spend a little over $20 billion over the next two years.

The governor suggests major cuts across the board, with some notable exceptions. He also wants to base funding for universities on how well schools perform.

Capitol reporter Ryland Barton sat down with Jason Bailey, the executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, for this budget debrief. 


  Kentucky environmental advocates are worried that budget reductions called for by Gov. Matt Bevin will make it impossible for the Energy and Environment Cabinet to perform its basic functions.

In his first budget proposal since taking office last month, Bevin on Tuesday called for across-the-board 9 percent budget reductions to most state agencies.

From 2012-2016, the cabinet has already seen its budget reduced by nearly 16 percent, and has implemented those cuts in various departments.

The cabinet’s responsibilities include implementing and enforcing federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, plus mine safety, surface mine permitting and reclamation, forestry, oil and gas regulation and preserving Kentucky’s wild areas.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Ten Kentucky candidates have filed to run for U.S. Senate including the incumbent and the mayor of the state’s second largest city.  Lexington Mayor Jim Gray filed candidacy papers Tuesday morning, just hours ahead of the deadline.

With family at his side and a room full of cameras and reporters, second term Gray signed his candidacy papers in the Secretary of State’s office.

Three Democrats File in Sixth District Congressional Race

Jan 22, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Three Democrats have filed this week in an attempt to unseat incumbent Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr.  Minister and long-time social activist Nancy Jo Kemper signed her candidacy papers Thursday in the secretary of state’s office.  “I frankly think we need some citizen legislators, people who represent the average person,” said Kemper.


This week, state lawmakers began considering controversial bills, while Gov. Matt Bevin fulfilled big campaign promises on health care and the racial makeup of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

In this edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled, we consider Week 2 of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session. Here’s a breakdown of the goings on in Frankfort.




A state Senate committee has passed a bill that would crack down on habitual drunk drivers.

The bill would double the five-year “look-back period” for driving under the influence, meaning someone convicted of the charge multiple times in 10 years would face increased penalties.

Kentucky’s current law imposes escalating fines, license suspensions and possible jail time for each DUI offense within five years. The fourth offense is a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Legislative Research Commission

A legislative committee on Wednesday passed a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure.

Since 2001, women seeking an abortion have been able to have the so-called “informed consent” meeting over the phone.


  Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has notified the federal government that Kentucky will dismantle its state health insurance exchange, Kynect.

The move will direct Kentuckians seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to use the federal health insurance site, healthcare.gov.

More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance through Kynect.

Kentucky LRC

A Louisville state senator has proposed requiring police departments to submit rape kits to the state testing lab within 30 days of receiving them.

Victims would also be notified of the testing progress. The backlog rape kits tests were the subject of a critical state audit last year.

Louisville Democratic Sen. Denise Harper Angel said the bill is “absolutely necessary.”

“Any victim of rape needs to know and deserves to know that their test is going to be tested and we have to get criminals off the streets,” Harper Angel said.


State House Democrats will once again try to push through a bill that would allow the state to borrow $3.3 billion to shore up the ailing teacher pension system, which is short $24 billion to make future payments.

Last year, the bill passed out of the House but was met with stiff opposition from leaders in the Republican-led Senate, which favored studying the problem to come up with structural changes to the pension system.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the top Democratic official in Frankfort, said even if lawmakers come up with changes to the pension system, the fund needs an influx of cash.


One of Kentucky's top elected Democrats said Monday he is concerned the struggling party will not be able to field a viable candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in November.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said he has been working with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to recruit potential candidates. He said some viable candidates are thinking about running for the seat but would not say they were likely to run. 

LRC Public Informtaion

Another Kentucky state lawmaker is switching from the Democratic Party to the GOP, further boosting the Republican Party's mission to take control of the only Southern legislative chamber still run by Democrats.

State Rep. Jim Gooch chairs the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. He said Monday he will seek re-election as a Republican. He attributed his decision to President Barack Obama's "radical agenda," including environmental regulations and push for gun control.

Paul Argues With Polling, Remains Optimistic on Presidential Bid

Dec 21, 2015

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul believes his presidential bid will “exceed expectations.” Speaking in Bowling Green Monday, Paul discredited polling that shows him trailing badly for the Republican nomination.

"We think that a lot of young people are not included in polls, college students and younger people with cell phones, and we think that's where our great strength is," Paul told WKU Public Radio.  "We also think we do better with independents than any other candidates, and independents are allowed to vote in the caucus in Iowa and the primary in New Hampshire."


Gov. Matt Bevin’s newly appointed commissioner of revenue left his last job, at Lexmark International, after the Lexington-based technology company found a host of accounting errors and declared its internal financial controls to be deficient and in need of remediation.

Bevin named Daniel Bork to the Department of Revenue job on Monday. In a news release, Bevin’s office said Bork “recently retired” as Lexmark’s vice president of tax, a job he had held since 2001. Bork’s LinkedIn profile says he worked there until September.

Tom Loftus / Courier Journal

Matt Bevin has taken the oath to become the 62nd governor of Kentucky during a private ceremony just after midnight in the state Capitol.

Bevin succeeds Democrat Steve Beshear, who could not seek re-election because of term limits. Bevin is the state's ninth Republican governor in its 223-year history and the second since 1971.

A full day of events is scheduled for Tuesday, including a worship service, a parade and a public swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps.

In Last Hours in Office, Beshear Pardons 201

Dec 8, 2015

As his term came to an end, Gov. Steve Beshear issued 201 pardons to people convicted in Kentucky of a variety of offenses, including several sent to prison for drug crimes or for committing crimes against abusive partners.

Beshear also granted six commutations, reducing a sentence to time already served in jail.

Charles Bertram / Lexington Herald Leader

On Tuesday, Matt Bevin will be sworn in as the 62nd governor of Kentucky.  His inauguration will include an early morning worship service, cannon fire signaling the start of a two-hour parade, a public swearing-in ceremony and a “grand march” in the state capitol rotunda.

Event organizers say veterans will play a key role in the parade, and the official ceremonies will be “laid back” in a style to reflect that Gov.-elect Bevin is a “casual-type guy.”

Senate Republicans: Kentucky Is Ready For Conservative Priorities

Dec 2, 2015
kentucky lrc.gov

Galvanized by Republican Matt Bevin’s election as governor and a dwindling Democratic majority in the state House, Senate Republicans will this week decide 10 bills to prioritize during the upcoming legislative session.

The GOP has a 27-11 majority in the state Senate.

Though the official shortlist of bills hasn’t been made, on Wednesday GOP leaders said they’ll be pushing for a familiar collection of legislation for right-to-work policies, charter schools and tort reform. The 2016 session starts next month.

Bevin: Kentucky Facing a ‘Financial Crisis’

Dec 1, 2015

John Chilton, the next state budget director, will be immediately tasked with tackling a “financial crisis,” Governor-elect Matt Bevin says.

Chilton, a Louisville accountant and businessman whose appointment was announced Tuesday, will be a key player in crafting the next two-year state budget.

In announcing Chilton’s appointment, Bevin said the state is facing a predicted $500-million budget shortfall.

Ashley Lopez

Republican Sen. Rand Paul is moving forward with his dual campaigns in Kentucky.

On Monday, Paul filed to run in both the Kentucky Republican presidential caucus on March 5 and for re-election to his current seat in the U.S. Senate.

Kentucky’s presidential caucus is being held by the state Republican Party in an effort to help Paul skirt a state law prohibiting candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. The caucus allows him to run for re-election to the Senate while also drawing home state support in his bid for the White House.


Gov. Steve Beshear has signed an executive order restoring voting rights to non-violent felons in Kentucky who have completed their sentences.

Beshear made the announcement Tuesday in Frankfort. The executive order excludes people convicted of bribery, sex crimes or treason, he said.

J. Tyler Franklin / wfpl.org

Saying he’s unwilling to give up his sports commentary gig just yet, Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones announced Monday he won’t run for political office in 2016.

Jones, a Democrat, spent much of the summer and fall entertaining the possibility of running for Congress in Kentucky’s 6th District, which includes Lexington. Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican, currently holds the seat.

Post Election GOP Rally

Nov 16, 2015

Fresh off a successful election season, Kentucky Republicans say they are dead-set on getting the entire state government under GOP control.

Party leaders met Saturday in Louisville to discuss next year’s election, plan for the looming presidential caucus and instate new chairman Mac Brown.

The newly elected state leaders, led by Governor-elect Matt Bevin, were in attendance.

Ryland Barton

The leader of the religious ministry constructing a massive replica of Noah’s Ark in Northern Kentucky says he won’t ask Governor-elect Matt Bevin to approve tax incentives for the project.

Instead, Answers in Genesis chief executive Ken Ham said he wants a federal court to rule on whether state tourism officials were right to decline more than $18 million in tax incentives for the project.