politics

Ryland Barton

Kentucky lawmakers advanced two anti-abortion bills on Wednesday — one would give the state’s new Republican attorney general more power to enforce abortion regulations, the other would require fetal remains to be buried or cremated after the procedure.

Both bills passed out of the legislature’s House Judiciary Committee while several abortion rights activists silently sat in the audience, donning white bonnets and red cloaks — a reference to the dystopian novel-turned-TV show, The Handmaid’s Tale.

House Bill 370, the fetal remains bill, is similar to a 2016 Indiana law that was challenged and ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

 


Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ads during a 100-day presidential campaign, announced on Wednesday he's suspending his bid and is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult."

Momentum and timing matter in politics — and both helped former Vice President Joe Biden mount a comeback against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who went into Super Tuesday with front-runner status after significant wins in early states.

After poor showings in some opening contests, Biden's campaign was seen by many as left for dead. On Tuesday he emerged as the chief alternative to Sanders.

The Democratic presidential race at one point had almost two dozen candidates, but now it's essentially a contest between two men representing dueling ideological poles of the party.

Jess Clark | WFPL

bill to end corporal punishment in Kentucky schools is facing hurdles clearing a state senate committee, according to advocates for the measure.

House lawmakers passed the ban on corporal punishment 65-17 in February. But supporters of the ban say it’s having trouble getting heard in the senate education committee.

Kentucky Youth Advocates director Terry Brooks said some lawmakers in the committee believe the matter should be up to local school boards.

“Frankly I am a little surprised and disappointed,” Brooks said in an interview.

Screenshot from KET

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is throwing his support behind a bill that would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting health conditions.

The announcement comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which includes a requirement that insurance carriers provide coverage for those with preexisting conditions.

Calling it an issue of “life and death,” Beshear said that insurers shouldn’t have the option to deny coverage to anyone.

 


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A legislative committee has passed a bill that would strip the governor’s power to reorganize the Kentucky Human Rights Commission by executive order while the legislature isn’t in session.

The measure is one of several bills to limit Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers making their way through the Republican-led legislature.

Supporters of the bill say the commission needs continuity amidst a backlog of cases and in the wake of a whistleblower complaint involving management misconduct.

Alma Randolph, the commission’s chair, argued that the current board needs to stay in place.

Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the Democratic primary campaign. Fourteen states will hold nominating contests to pick who they think should square off this fall against President Trump.

There are 1,357 delegates at stake, about a third of all delegates. So far, fewer than 4% of the delegates have been allocated.

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State lawmakers have proposed changing Kentucky’s new 5-star school rating system.

bill filed by Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg) proposes changes to graduation requirements, grading metrics and how schools are identified for turnarounds. Givens said the bill is an “update” to the 2017 legislation that created the accountability system.

“This continues to refine that in very positive ways,” he said. “And that’s the motivation for the bill.”

Blake Farmer | WPLN

About 337,000 Tennesseans have so far cast their ballots for this year’s presidential primaries, a dip from 2016 when both parties had competitive races.

But it’s a marked increase from early voting in 2012, the last cycle that featured an incumbent president.

According to data from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, the early voting period that wrapped up this week saw nearly as many Republicans as Democrats casting ballots — even though President Donald Trump faces no serious competition.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republicans have gained a seat in the state House of Representatives following a special election in a historically Democratic district in northeastern Kentucky.

Republican lumber mill owner Richard White defeated Democrat Bill Redwine, a former administrator at Morehead State University, by a little more than 1,000 votes on Tuesday.

The outcome does not change party control in the legislature, where Republicans how hold 62 out of 100 seats in the House and 29 out of 38 seats in the Senate, both super-majorities.

The Democrats debated for the 10th time Tuesday night and it was a bit of a mess. There was shouting. There was overtalk. There were lots of attacks.

So what to make of that muddle? Here are four takeaways that emerged as the dust settled.

1. Joe Biden was focused on the win in South Carolina

South Carolina is a must-win for the former vice president after disappointing finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. He came into the debate with a game plan and executed it the best he could.

Days before the South Carolina primary, seven Democratic candidates will face off in a debate in Charleston, S.C.

The debate comes after Sen. Bernie Sanders handily won the Nevada caucuses, won in New Hampshire and tied in Iowa.

Here's what you need to know:

When is the South Carolina Democratic debate? Tuesday, from 8 to 10 p.m. ET.

Where is the debate being held? Charleston.

What channel is the debate on? CBS and streaming online on CBSN.

J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Andy Beshear has signed a bill into law requiring all Kentucky school resource officers, or SROs, to carry a gun.

“The threats to our children in our schools is very real,” Beshear said, citing incidents where guns were found on school campuses, a thwarted school shooting plot in Shelby County, and the 2018 shooting in Marshall County.

“I simply cannot ask a school resource officer to stop an armed gunman entering a school without them having the ability to not only achieve this mission, but also to protect themselves,” he said.

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The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in limited ways. This is the furthest an effort to legalize any form of marijuana has ever gone.

Sixty-five lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, while 30 voted against it. It was the first time a medical marijuana bill passed a chamber of the General Assembly.

The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 136 last week, with a vote of 17 to 1. The bill has 51 cosponsors. It will head next to the Senate, which like the House is Republican-led.

Jess Clark | WFPL

In 19 Kentucky school districts, when a student misbehaves, teachers or principals can still use a paddle to spank students on the behind. Last year, educators used paddling to discipline students at least 284 times — mostly in Eastern and South-Central Kentucky. The state keeps track of how often schools use it, and on who.

Kentucky is one of 19 states where corporal punishment is legal in public schools. That means it’s legal for educators in public schools to inflict pain as a form of discipline, usually through spanking. But state lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban the practice.

 


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