politics

Updated at 4:27 a.m. ET Friday

U.S. forces assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike early Friday near the Baghdad International Airport, an escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran that is prompting concerns of further violence in the region.

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky

A federal prosecutor in Kentucky says, if warranted, his office is prepared to prosecute those convicted in state court who received pardons from former Governor Matt Bevin.

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman says if the crimes took place in the Western District of Kentucky, they will be treated like any other violation of federal law.  Once the findings of the investigation are presented to his office, Coleman says he’ll consider the statute of limitations, double jeopardy, and evidentiary requirements to determine whether the cases meet federal standards for prosecution. 

“The uniqueness of a situation of federal prosecution following a state executive pardon will, however, require ultimate approval by the highest levels at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.," Coleman said in a statement.

Lisa Autry

Kentucky lawmakers convene January 7 for the start of the 2020 legislative session in Frankfort. 

The 60-day session will be dominated by the drafting of a new, two-year state budget.  State Rep. Wilson Stone of Allen County, a member of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, says one of the biggest challenges will be finding the money to give $2,000 across-the-board pay raises to public school teachers, which is something Gov. Andy Beshear promised while campaigning for office.

"I suspect we’ll be able to find it in lots of small places, but I’ll be interested to see if we cut any major lines in the budget in order to add that money to public education," Wilson said.


legislature.ky.gov

A lawmaker from western Kentucky wants to double the length of time state representatives serve in office. Such a move would require a change to the state’s constitution. 

Rep. Richard Heath wants to increase the length of legislative terms for Kentucky House members from two to four years. He also thinks the state’s elections should be staggered so that only 50 members of the House are up for election at a time, instead of all 100. 

 

Heath serves Graves and McCracken counties and plans to introduce a bill including those changes during the 2020 General Assembly. The Republican from Mayfield says the way the state currently elects its House members is confusing to many voters.


Thinkstock

A lawmaker from Hardin County is hoping Kentucky follows the example of Tennessee and other states that don’t impose an income tax on its residents.

Supporters say transitioning away from an income tax and increasing the state’s sales tax would make Kentucky more attractive to businesses.

Opponents say it would be a boon to the wealthy, while hurting low-income and vulnerable residents.

The effort to move Kentucky away from relying on income tax gained steam in 2018. That’s when Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed into law a massive overhaul of the state’s tax code.


ky.gov

A new law that goes into effect next week will require Kentucky drivers to donate $10 when buying and renewing some special license plates. That same law will also end production of the special plates for organizations that do not register enough users.

Kentucky defines a special license plate as one which identifies the driver as, “a member of a group or organization, or a supporter of the work, goals, or mission of a group or organization.” There are dozens of special license plates, and the majority of them (including military, university and nature plates) already include a mandatory donation.

 


Family Says Kentucky Lawmaker Is Severely Ill In Hospital

Dec 26, 2019
LRC Public Information

Kentucky House Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney is in an intensive care unit battling what his family says was a sudden sickness.

A statement from family says Carney is being treated for a severe case of pancreatitis and infection at Norton Hospital in Louisville. A relative says the lawmaker got sick while eating lunch Sunday.

He was taken to the emergency room early Monday and diagnosed with pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. The statement says Carney could have feeding tubes for weeks and drain tubes for months.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told a local television affiliate that she's "disturbed" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans to use "total coordination" with the White House to set out President Trump's impeachment trial.

J. Tyler Franklin

Passport Health Plan and Anthem Kentucky, the Medicaid providers whose contracts were not renewed by outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin last month, have another shot at continuing to serve Kentuckians.

Gov. Andy Beshear said his administration would cancel the five Medicaid contracts awarded by Bevin in his last days in office. He plans to redo the bid process early next year, with the goal of awarding new contracts by the spring. Beshear said anyone is welcome to bid, including those who were denied contracts by Bevin.

During a press conference Monday, Beshear said he wants to create a system the public can trust that is free of perceived bias. Beshear pointed to Bevin’s attitude toward Passport, whose enrollees are mostly in Louisville and which suffered when the state changed reimbursement rates last year.

Party leaders in Congress continued to spar Monday over details of an impending impeachment trial in the Senate, with newly released emails giving more ammunition to Democrats in their requests for new witnesses.

Listen to The NPR Politics Podcast here.

The impeachment of President Trump has dominated the news this week. But the political focus shifted to the Democratic presidential candidates Thursday night for their sixth debate, this one in Los Angeles and hosted by the PBS NewsHour and Politico.

ThinkStock

Economists are predicting that Kentucky will bring in slightly more tax revenue over the next two years, but the state is also facing increased financial obligations that will likely eclipse the increase.

On Tuesday, the Consensus Forecasting Group — a panel of economists hired by the state to make revenue predictions at the end of each year — said that tax revenue will increase just 1.3 percent in the upcoming fiscal year and 1.8 percent in the year after that.

The increase translates to $146 million in new revenues in the 2021 fiscal year that begins next July and $207 million in the year after that.

 


The top seven Democratic presidential candidates will appear on stage in Los Angeles Thursday night in the sixth debate of the year.

The debate comes just one day after President Trump became the third president of the United States to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Here's what you need to know:

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET

House lawmakers voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday in only the third such rebuke in American history.

The move triggers a trial for Trump in the Senate, expected in January — one in which majority Republicans are likely to permit him to retain his office.

The vote was 230 to 197 on the first of two articles of impeachment — abuse of power — with one member voting present. The House then passed the second article — obstruction of Congress — with a vote of 229 to 198, with one member voting present.

Sen. Alexander's office

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s compromise to end surprise medical bills held together for only one day. Now, it has fallen apart as Congress prepares to take a holiday break.

In announcing the delay, Alexander took a swipe at the handful of physician staffing firms who’ve been working against him.

“The only people who don’t want this fixed are the people who benefit from these excessive fees, including the private equity groups which control three of the largest companies that handle billing and staffing for emergency rooms,” Alexander said in a written statement.

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