Politics

Political news

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Kentucky’s Legislative Ethics Commission is asking state lawmakers to update an existing law to specifically prohibit workplace sexual harassment by lawmakers against their staff. 

The legislative ethics law currently doesn’t include such language.  The ethics panel has investigated such cases in the past, mostly recently involving former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, but on the grounds of misuse of public office. 

Legislative Ethics Commission Director John Schaaf told WKU Public Radio that updating the law would remove any questions about whether the panel has jurisdiction to investigate sexual harassment allegations against lawmakers.

marsyslaw.us

The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is suing to block a constitutional amendment said to advocate for victims’ rights from appearing on the ballot in November.

The measure is called Marsy’s Law. It passed the Kentucky General Assembly this year, and if it’s ratified by voters in the fall it will amend Kentucky’s constitution to require crime victims be notified of court proceedings, receive compensation from the convicted and more.

Last week, KACDL sued the Secretary of State’s office and Kentucky State Board of Elections, alleging the Marsy’s Law amendment is flawed due to its effects on the criminal justice system and the language representing the amendment on the ballot.

Kentucky to Offer New Driver's Licenses to Comply with Law

Aug 13, 2018
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Kentucky will start offering new driver's licenses in January, becoming one of the last states to comply with a federal travel law passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, requiring states to upgrade the security of their driver's licenses.

Kentucky will offer a standard driver's license or a voluntary travel ID. People can only have one. Both enable a citizen to drive, vote and apply for federal benefits. But beginning Oct. 1, 2020, only people with travel IDs will be allowed to board domestic flights or enter U.S. military bases.

Kentucky Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Pension Case

Aug 10, 2018
Ryland Barton

The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's appeal of an earlier ruling striking down changes to the state's struggling pension systems.

Kentucky's Republican-controlled legislature passed a law earlier this year that would move all new teacher hires into a hybrid plan and limit how teachers can use sick days to calculate their retirement benefits. In June, a state judge struck down the law because he said lawmakers violated the state constitution by not giving the bill three readings over three days.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments over the state’s medical review panel law, which requires people suing doctors for malpractice to have their cases screened by a group of doctors before they can proceed to court.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, which is defending the policy, argues that it helps weed out frivolous malpractice claims and makes the state more attractive to health care providers.

J. Guthrie True, an attorney representing people who say they’ve been negatively affected by the law, argues that it delays the process and forces plaintiffs to spend more money ahead of court proceedings.

WFPL

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader's spokesman said Wednesday.

Paul, who defended Trump in the wake of his summit with Putin last month in Helsinki, has been visiting Russia with a delegation for several days.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin has not yet examined the letter Paul presented.

Wikimedia Commons

Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives have asked a top official from former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to answer questions about Kentucky Wired, a statewide broadband project that has racked up more than $180 million in costs associated with delays.

The Kentucky Wired project is supposed to provide high speed internet to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties with a 3,200 mile-long network of fiber optic cable.

Wikimedia Commons

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is speaking this month at the Republican Party of Kentucky's Lincoln Dinner.

The event is set for Aug. 25 in Lexington. Sanders will join Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr at the dinner.

State Republican Party Chairman Mac Brown called Sanders "one of the most recognizable messengers for Republicans" and said the party is eager to hear from her regarding GOP accomplishments during President Donald Trump's time in office.

Political consultant Scott Jennings will be emcee for the dinner.

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said money his family’s coal companies owe in West Virginia has been paid.

At a Monday news conference, West Virginia revenue officials said the obligations from Justice’s companies had been paid, including fines and taxes.

“The state is completely and totally satisfied with the resolution of these matters,” Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said.

Justice didn’t say how much was owed and paid or whether the debt obligations were reduced as part of negotiations. He also noted it would likely be a few days before the liens were released by the county offices, making the settlement of the debts official.

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Rand Paul was in Russia on Monday and invited Russian officials to meet with members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Paul met for an hour with Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Federal Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.

According to a video posted by Russian state media outlet RT, Paul said that the goal of his trip was to promote greater dialogue between the countries.

“I am one who believes in more engagement, that we need to have more cultural exchange, more exchange between our legislative bodies, more open lines of communication,” Paul said.

Ryland Barton

Teachers got a lot of love from speakers during the Fancy Farm political speaking event.

U.S. Congressman James Comer made a point to thank teachers who showed up to Fancy Farm, saying that they “deserve the respect of our highest elected officials.”

The comment is a dig at Gov. Bevin, who has made several inflammatory statements about teachers, including a claim that teachers left their students vulnerable to sexual assault and drug abuse by protesting in Frankfort earlier this year.

Matt Markgraf

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North was greeted with a standing applause welcome at a Republican rally Friday night at a rally at Murray State University.

The Lakeland GOP rally organizers say more than 300 people attended the event, walking past a crowd of protesters into Lovett Auditorium, where a large U.S. flag extended across the stage. The "Night Before Fancy Farm" was hosted by the Calloway and Marshall Republican parties and was one of several political rallies across the west Kentucky region ahead of the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County, which kicks off the election season in the commonwealth.

Taylor Inman

Survivors of gun violence in west Kentucky led protests against the Friday visit of National Rifle Association leader Oliver North to a Republican rally at Murray State University.

Oliver North was invited by the Marshall and Calloway County Republican parties as the featured speaker for their ‘Night Before Fancy Farm’ event. The invitation of North to speak at a local GOP rally sparked an uproar from a community that experienced a deadly school shooting less than seven months ago.

North is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel and in May was named the next president of the NRA. He is also infamous for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Creative Commons

As Kentucky’s drug overdose and incarceration rates continue to surge, some are renewing the call for the state to reform its criminal justice system and increase opportunities for drug treatment.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said the number of people in Kentucky’s prison system surpassed 25,000 for the first time this year.

“We’re constantly trying to keep the tourniquet applied because we’ve let it get this bad as a state,” Tilley said at a legislative hearing at Lake Barkley State Resort. “That’s the problem, there’s so much deferred maintenance, so much neglect of facilities throughout the state.”

Tax Changes Impact Church Hosting Fancy Farm Picnic

Aug 3, 2018

Thousands of people traveling to Kentucky's Fancy Farm picnic this weekend hope to win prizes in bingo and other games.

But the biggest winner could be the Kentucky state government, which is poised to collect $13,000 from the church that hosts the picnic because of changes to the state's tax code.

Kentucky no longer exempts religious and nonprofit organizations from state sales taxes, meaning every bingo card, ice cream cone, Sun Drop bottle and pulled pork plate requires a 6 percent tax.

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