Politics

Politics
1:59 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

State Budget Sees Small Surplus

Despite dim outlooks, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has turned a budget surplus for the second year in a row.

The last fiscal year closed with  an additional $83 million  in  the General Fund. The road fund has a $31 million  surplus.

The extra revenue has two potential uses. First, the state can make emergency payments, like putting additional money to cleaning up tornado damage in Eastern Kentucky.

And it can send money to the rainy day fund to help build back  Surpluses that were spent during the recession.

Politics
4:27 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Shanklin Furious With Fischer Administration Over C-J Comments

Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, has spurned an invitation from Mayor Greg Fischer, citing his administration's comments regarding the use of city grants for an upholstery job training program.

Last Friday, a Fischer spokesman told The Courier-Journal  the program for ex-offenders should have ended on November 14 as ordered by the city and that it appears "city tax dollars are not spent as they’re intended to be." It was discovered that Shanklin continued to fund the program and personally signed an $836 check despite Metro Corrections ending it due to a lack of former inmate referrals.

"The published reports raise concerns with Dr. Shanklin over how the mayor's office has responded," says Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt, confirming that Shanklin called Fischer's office to reject an invitation to celebrate renovations at Petersburg Park in District 2 later this week.

According to Hyatt, Shanklin says corrections tried to kill the upholstery training while two people were still going through the course, and that the neighborhood association decided to finish out the last month of training.

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Politics
3:24 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Lawmaker Will Again Try to Lift Ban on Election Day Alcohol Sales

For the fifth time, a Northern Kentucky lawmaker will attempt to undo a ban on alcohol sales on election days.

Currently, no alcohol can be served or sold while polls are open. Representative Arnold Simpson has filed legislation to scrap the ban four times in the past. And Friday, he will once again present the proposal to an interim legislative committee.

Many states originally passed such bans in order to crack down on voter fraud and vote buying. Now, South Carolina is the only other state that still bans alcohol sales on election days.

Politics
1:03 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

McConnell: President Wants Tax Hike for Small Businesses

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., quickly came out against President Obama's push for Congress to end the Bush-era tax cuts for those who making over $250,000 annually.

The president spoke from the White House on Monday, arguing that he has cut taxes for the middle-class Americans and that 97 percent of all businesses would not see their taxes increase. It renews a previous fight between Mr. Obama and Republican lawmakers, but the proposal also puts the administration at odds with congressional Democrats who have called for extending the the cuts for everyone except people earning more than $1 million a year.

McConnell says the proposal is a tax hike that will hurt job creators.

From McConnell's office:

"It’s not an accident that the President didn’t explain how his plan to raise taxes on small businesses will create jobs—he can’t say that with a straight face, it simply isn’t true. In fact, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, nearly a million small businesses would feel this tax hike right away, and up to a quarter of the entire American workforce depends on these employers for a paycheck.

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Politics
10:47 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Donnelly Raises $900,000 in Second Quarter

In the Indiana Senate race, the campaign for Democrat Joe Donnelly announced it has raised $900,000 in the second quarter.

The total is an improvement for the Indiana congressman, who faces Republican Richard Mourdock in the general election this fall. Donnelly had been reporting lackluster fundraising totals for a Senate candidate during the primary, which worried state Democrats.

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Politics
8:00 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Pseudoephedrine Limits Go Into Effect This Thursday

On Thursday, dozens of laws passed in this year’s legislative session will become active.

One of those laws limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can buy from a pharmacy. Pseudoephedrine, or PSE, is used in many cold and allergy medicines. It’s also a key part of meth production.

The new law limits adults to seven point two grams a month, which is roughly the equivalent of a box, before requiring a prescription.

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Politics
10:30 pm
Sat July 7, 2012

Noise and Notes: The Politics of Pot and Remembering Rev. Louis Coleman

Probably more than most states, Kentucky is associated with marijuana.

Six months before the General Assembly reconvenes, state Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, unveiled a bill that would legalize medical marijuana dubbed the "Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act."

The legislation has gotten national attention, but also drawn sharp criticism from state police and political opponents despite medical marijuana being legal in 17 other states.

I sat down with Clark in a candid conversation about the political risk involved with introducing such a bill and why he believes Kentucky should be leading the legalization movement.

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Politics
6:32 pm
Sat July 7, 2012

NY Times Editorial Goes After McConnell Over Disclose Act

File photo

In a stinging editorial, the New York Times chastises Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for opposing legislation that would require Super PACs to disclose their donor lists to the public.

Last month, McConnell delivered a pointed speech against the Disclose Act where he argued it was an attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate conservative donors and organizations. The GOP leader went as far as to accuse the president of engaging in Nixonian harassment to undermine the First Amendment.

But those in support of the bill—including Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky.—argue the measure is necessary to know who is behind political ads in the Citizens United world.

From the New York Times:

The vast majority of the secret money going into “social welfare” organizations like Crossroads GPS, founded by Karl Rove, is being spent on behalf of Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates, and the Disclose Act is coming up for another vote in a few weeks. So Mr. McConnell needs a new excuse for filibustering it again. But his suggestion that President Obama and Democrats want disclosure in order to compile a list of “enemies” is repugnant.

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Politics
3:35 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Ackerson Wants Government Accountability Panel to Investigate Shanklin

Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26.
Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, is calling on the government accountability committee to investigate Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who has been embroiled in a series of scandals.

Since May, Shanklin has faced mounting questions about the use of citys grants from her office, particularly for an upholstery training program for ex-convicts that served no former inmates but that she and her relatives participated in.

The city's internal audit is conducting a review of the jobs program and a report is pending.

It has also been reported that $3,000 in taxpayer money went to Shanklin's family members through funding of the Petersburg-Newburg Neighborhood Association, which she is a board member. Until last year, Shanklin has personally signed checks to the group  since 2005.

An audit of council discretionary spending found a lack monitoring in the majority of those grants, but the report called out Shanklin specifically for having a conflict of interest in funding the neighborhood group while being a board member.

Ackerson says he is concerned about the oversight of taxpayer dollars as well as media reports, adding he wants to know the full story behind Shanklin's controversies.

"Controversy such as this do not bode will for government period. There's a lot of questions that are raised about discretionary funds. Negative stories out there that don't talk about everything and don't give government a chance to address those, all they do is create improper conclusions. And I'm a firm believer in discretionary funds and what they can do for an area," he says.

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Politics
11:59 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Conservative Kentucky Think Tank Starts Political Action Committee

A new conservative think tank in Kentucky is expanding its political influence outside of its usual lobbying efforts.

The Commonwealth Policy Center is a fiscally and socially conservative group. Now, the group has launched a sister political action committee, the Commonwealth Policy PAC (pack), to influence elections.

The center’s director is Richard Nelson, a former analyst of the Family Foundation in Kentucky. Henderson City Commissioner Robby Mills is the PAC’s director.

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