politics

Bytemarks via Creative Commons

Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration might partner with the federal government to build a new unemployment insurance system.

Like much of the nation, Kentucky struggled to keep up with a surge of applications for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Beshear administration has blamed the problems on understaffing, antiquated software and security issues that have led to delays in overhauling the system.

During a legislative hearing on Tuesday, Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link said the federal government is forming a consortium of five or six states to share a “core unemployment system” and Kentucky is considering joining.

But he said the state may decide to overhaul the system on its own.

Stephanie Wolf

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has endorsed Charles Booker’s bid to unseat incumbent Republican Rand Paul in Kentucky’s senate race next year.

Warren is a second-term senator from Massachusetts and former Democratic presidential candidate who’s weighed in on Kentucky elections before.

She endorsed Booker in last year’s senate race after initially throwing her support behind retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath. She also endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes in her unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.

In a statement, Warren said Booker has the “right vision and heart to reclaim Kentucky’s Senate seat for the people.”

Breya Jones

The front lawn of the Capitol building in Frankfort served as the backdrop for the “Worldwide Freedom Rally” on Saturday, where attendees railed against the unlikely possibility of mandated vaccines and the governor’s COVID-19 response.

The rally was held by America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing medical professionals organization. According to the organization, today’s rally was supposed to take place at several state capitols across the nation.  

The event’s speakers addressed critical race theory, concerns about communism in the US and the Kentucky government’s response to COVID-19. 

There was general fear about government-sponsored vaccine mandates, particularly requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for students attending public school, despite there being no discussion about that currently.

Paige Pfleger/ WPLN News

The bust of confederate general and KKK grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest has been removed from the Tennessee State Capitol. Advocates cleared the final hurdle Thursday, after decades of protesting and months of jumping through legislative hoops.

Gov. Bill Lee voted along with the majority of the state building commission to move the bust to the Tennessee State Museum.

But the vote was not unanimous: the speakers of the Tennessee House and Senate voted against relocation.

Several different state commissions have voted on the fate of the bust in the last few months, but Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, hoped this was the last.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky is creating an electronic search warrant system that allows police to request and judges to approve or deny warrants online.

The e-warrant system is being developed by research database company LexisNexis and comes amid scrutiny of search warrant processes in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s killing.

Members of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s Search Warrant Task Force discussed the project on Thursday.

Troy Belcher, the lead developer of the e-warrant system with LexisNexis, said it will create more oversight of the search warrant process.

“Everybody looks at the history when it comes to the warrants. They want to see who created it, they wanted to see who sent it, who even looked at it. We’ll definitely have that information in there,” Belcher said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Lawmakers say they’ll investigate racial disparities and come up with solutions in a new Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity that met for the first time on Tuesday.

The commission, made up of legislators and citizens, was created earlier this year in response to calls for racial justice reforms and months of protests across the state and nation.

But critics say the commission is another powerless task force that exemplifies the legislature’s inaction addressing racism.

Sen. David Givens, a Republican from Greensburg and co-chair of the panel, said arguments over racial justice protests last summer showed the need for structured conversations about race.

LRC Public Information

Republican state Rep. John “Bam” Carney, a teacher and former House Majority Floor Leader, has died at the age of 51.

Carney was first hospitalized with a severe case of pancreatitis in December 2019. His health declined again in recent weeks, according to his family.

Carney’s family shared news of his death on Facebook on Saturday morning.

The Campbellsville legislator was first elected in 2008 and went on to serve as chair of the House Education Committee when Republicans won control of the chamber in 2017. He later became House Majority Floor Leader.

Carney also worked as a teacher and coached middle school and high school football for 16 years.

House Speaker David Osborne issued a statement saying the hearts of the Republican caucus are broken.

Ryland Barton

Conservative consultant and writer Kelley Paul stumped for her husband, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, at an event at a Louisville country club on Thursday.

Speaking to the Women’s Republican Club of Louisville, Kelley Paul echoed her husband’s critiques of pandemic lockdown orders, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and news outlets’ coverage of the neighbor who attacked the junior senator in 2017, breaking several ribs.

Kelley Paul said over the last year, reporters unfairly covered Rand Paul’s questioning of Fauci and Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate.

Breya Jones

Former Democratic state Rep. Charles Booker launched his 2022 campaign for U.S. Senate earlier this month. He’s trying to build off his 2020 Senate bid, which was cut short after he narrowly lost to retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath in the primary election.

Booker surged to prominence during racial justice protests last year and created an advocacy organization called “Hood to the Holler,” named after his campaign slogan and attempt to build an urban-rural coalition in the state.

If he wins the Democratic nomination next year, he would likely face Republican incumbent Sen. Rand Paul, who was first elected in 2010 and is running again.

 

  

A budget deal announced by the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday includes major investments in climate initiatives and would extend the child tax credit expansion and fund universal pre-K.

Kyeland Jackson

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams urged federal lawmakers not to “micromanage” state elections. During a congressional hearing on Monday, he said local officials know what’s best for their constituents.

Adams, a Republican, spoke by video to the U.S. House Committee on House Administration.

The meeting came as some GOP-led state legislatures are considering bills criticized by voting rights advocates and Democrats in Congress are pushing for voting rights bills Republicans say usurp local election control.

Adams said he doesn’t agree with every election bill proposed by Republican legislators, but that local officials are better equipped to handle the issue.

Ryan Van Velzer

After the firing of Tennessee’s top vaccine expert, Nashville Democratic Representative John Ray Clemmons is calling for an explanation from the governor and the health commissioner. He says the firing is a “slap in the face” to government employees, and worries it will make it difficult to hire a qualified replacement.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the now-former medical director at the Tennessee Department of Health, gave the Tennessean a copy of her termination letter, which doesn’t explain why she was fired on Monday. Fiscus says that she was a scapegoat to appease state lawmakers, who threatened to dissolve the state health department for encouraging teenagers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Her name came up in a June hearing because of a letter sent from her office to doctors around the state.

Chas Sisk | WPLN

 The bust of confederate general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest could technically be removed from the state capitol Friday, but instead it is caught in a sort of legislative hot potato.

People have been pushing for years for the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest to be removed, and finally made progress on that mission in March 2020, when the state Historical Commission voted to pass the bust off to the Tennessee State Museum. There was a required 120 day waiting period, which expired on July 9.

Yet the museum says they are still awaiting instructions.

One complication is the State Building Commission, which oversees Tennessee’s public buildings, is still working to determine next steps.

Kyeland Jackson

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon has announced a bid for governor in 2023, making him the first Republican to officially launch a challenge to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

Harmon is in his second term as state auditor, the office in charge of reviewing the state’s accounting and financial performance. Before that, he served in the state House of Representatives for 13 years.

Harmon said he’s joining the race because he opposes Beshear’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, citing the governor’s restrictions on gatherings and a backlog of unemployment claims.

“I felt like it was important for people to see somebody who would defend their rights—both their liberties and ability to have livelihoods,” Harmon said.

Lisa Autry

Demand for vaccines has decreased in recent weeks and less than 50% of the U.S. population is full vaccinated.

While in Bowling Green Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

During a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce meeting, McConnell said the nation hasn’t reached the level of vaccination he’d like to see.

If you're a football fan, we're sort of in the red zone, the last 20 yards before the end zone, but not yet in the end zone on getting people vaccinated," McConnell said. "I hope even though we are all back to normal now, we'll still try to encrouge people to get the vaccination."

Pages