Politics

Politics
8:51 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Progress Kentucky Apologizes to Mitch McConnell's Wife Over 'Chinese' Twitter Messages

Credit progresskentucky.com

Hours after being roundly condemned by Democrats and Republicans, a liberal super PAC is apologizing to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's wife for a series of controversial Twitter messages.

The group's Tweets accused former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, of moving American jobs to China and that her "Chinese (money)" was buying state elections.

Critics slammed the comments as racially offensive, and a national backlash against the group was ignited.

Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly says they remain dedicated to educating voters about McConnell's record, but their messages "included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity" of the former labor secretary.

"We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress Kentucky are reviewed and approved prior to posting," he says.

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Politics
6:26 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Kentucky Senate Approves Electronic Voting Bill That Requires Snail Mail Returns

Credit Creative Commons

The state Senate has passed a bill that allows Kentucky military personnel to register to vote and receive ballots electronically—but they'll have to use snail mail to send the ballots back.

Senate President Robert Stivers would allow deployed citizens to register to vote and receive their ballots electronically.

Initially, a floor amendment to the bill would have allowed the military members to return the ballots electronically, but the amendment was withdrawn by sponsor Sen. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat.

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Politics
4:30 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Bill Regulating Abortion Drug Access Clears Indiana Senate

usermeds.com

The Indiana Senate has passed a bill that would place tougher requirements on clinics that provide only abortion-inducing drugs.    It would also require women who seek them to undergo an ultrasound exam.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted 33-16 for the measure, sponsored by Sen. Travis Holdman

"I am not active in a right-to-life organization.  Introduced this bill because (of) my own religious conviction and my respect for life and the health of women," Holdman said in a floor speech. 

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Politics
2:18 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

House Committees Makes Major Changes to Pension Reform Bill

Credit File photo

The state pension system would not transition to a hybrid 401K-style plan in an amended version of the pension reform bill.

The amended bill also only allows plans to set up a new 11-person committee to provide direct oversight over the pension systems.

And cost of living adjustments are no longer banned under the bill, but can only be allowed if there is a surplus in the retirement systems or if lawmakers prepay for the expense.

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Politics
1:03 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Liberal Super PAC Goes After Mitch McConnell's 'Chinese' Wife

Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao
Credit The Heritage Foundation

UPDATE: Progress Kentucky has issued an apology over the incident.

A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife.

For months, the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home.

Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.

In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: "This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she's his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!"

The Tweet links to a website run by conspiracy theorist and radio host Jeff Rense, alleging Chao, who was born in Taiwan, discriminated against American workers during her tenure.

Progress Kentucky spokesman Curtis Morrison says the group's leaders do not review every Tweet and initially denied any had mentioned Chao superficially. But he later told WFPL that a group volunteer had sent out the messages targeting the former secretary.

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Politics
11:48 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Persistently Low-Achieving Schools Could Become Charters Under Kentucky Senate Bill

Credit File photo

Kentucky persistently low-achieving schools would be able to become charter schools to improve performance and test scores under a bill discussed Tuesday in the state Senate Education Committee.

The charter schools bill adds charters a a fifth option for what the state now calls "priority schools—schools that persistently get low scores.  The current options include re-staffing of teachers, firing the principal, giving the school up to outside management or closing the schools.

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Politics
10:54 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Indiana House Approves $30 Billion State Budget

The Indiana House has approved a $30 billion budget that includes an additional $700 million for roads and schools than was originally sought by the governor.

The House voted 67-29 along party lines Monday night for the budget. It now moves to the Senate.

The House budget adds $200 million for education and $500 million for roads to the proposal submitted by Gov. Mike Pence last month.

Pence also wanted a 10 percent cut to the personal income tax, which would have cost $500 million a year. But lawmakers left that out of the House bill.

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Politics
4:27 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Legislative Fix to 2012 Pill Mill Bill Passes House Judiciary Committee

Credit File photo

A bill addressing problems with last year's prescription pill mill bill has cleared the House Judiciary Committee.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the bill, which reduces some tough regulations that followed the pill mill bill.  The legislation, House Bill 217, requires hospitals and long term care facilities to still pull KASPER reports, but lessens other regulations on them

Stumbo told lawmakers that the bill would help codify easier regulations that were recently published and that the effort to crackdown on prescription pill abuse was effective.

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Politics
3:02 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

State Senator Perry Clark Lauds Hemp, Pot Poll Results

State Sen. Perry Clark rallies for medical marijuana bill
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

State Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, is touting a Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, which shows broad support for industrial hemp and medical marijuana.

The survey finds 65 percent of Kentuckians support hemp and 60 percent favor using the drug for prescription use. Clark filed a measure dubbed the "Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act" that would move cannabis to the list of prescription drugs to treat illnesses.

Supporters rallied for the proposal earlier this year, but it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Clark says he hopes fellow state lawmakers are paying attention to national trends and the shift in public opinion among Kentuckians.

"Clearly we’re forming a cannabis majority in this nation. You know 19 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, at least two states have gone total recreational and eight other states have passed industrial hemp," he says. "It’s time for us to think forward and realize this is not the top problem that we’re having in Kentucky."

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Politics
1:24 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Kentucky Head Start, Child Care and Education Programs Facing Sequester Cuts, White House says

Credit White House

The automatic federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday would pare several Kentucky programs that help families, including a child-care subsidy program that state officials have already cut back, says a state-by-state study from the White House.

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