2013 General Assembly http://wfpl.org en Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Praise General Assembly for Approving Hemp Legislation http://wfpl.org/post/mitch-mcconnell-rand-paul-praise-general-assembly-approving-hemp-legislation <p>Republican U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are lauding the Kentucky <a href="http://www.wfpl.org/post/amended-hemp-bill-passes-kentucky-legislature-comer-ok-result">General Assembly for passing legislation to allow a regulatory framework</a> for industrial hemp.</p><p>The so-called hemp bill was approved by state lawmakers on the last day of the legislative session, and allows licensing of future hemp farmers to the Industrial Hemp Commission should the federal government legalize the crop.</p><p>Agriculture Commissioner James Comer led the initiative, and told Kentucky Public Radio's Kenny Colston state officials are working with the federal delegation to get a federal waiver.</p><p>McConnell and Paul both said Wednesday they will work to get the crop legalized for Kentucky farmers to grow.</p><p>From McConnell's office:</p><blockquote><p>I applaud Commissioner James Comer for his leadership on the issue and the Kentucky General Assembly for passing the legislation which has the potential to provide an economic boost to Kentucky, create jobs and allow Kentucky farmers to harness the economic potential that industrial hemp can provide.&nbsp; Wed, 27 Mar 2013 18:47:20 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4703 at http://wfpl.org Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Praise General Assembly for Approving Hemp Legislation General Assembly Overrides Gov. Steve Beshear's Veto of 'Religious Freedom' Bill http://wfpl.org/post/general-assembly-overrides-gov-steve-beshears-veto-religious-freedom-bill <p>In a sweeping bipartisan vote, both chambers of the General Assembly overturned Kentucky Governor Steve <a href="http://wfpl.org/post/gov-steve-beshear-vetoes-controversial-religious-freedom-bill">Beshear’s veto of the controversial religious freedom bill</a>.</p><p>Earlier this week, the House Democratic caucus met behind closed doors to hold a secret ballot, which ultimately favored bringing the measure back to the House floor.</p><p>After a half hour of debate, the House rejected the gubernatorial veto by an overwhelming 79-15 margin.</p><p style="margin-top:.1pt;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.1pt;margin-left:0in">Supporters of the legislation affirmed it does not undermine anyone’s civil rights protections, and only safeguards First Amendment rights.</p><p>"There have been attempts to take God out of everything," says state Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, who supported the bill. "They want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance, can you believe that? You don't think your religious freedom is under attack? Then maybe you do believe in a boogeyman."</p><p></p><p>The law allows individuals the right to act or refuse to act on any laws or regulations that violate tenets of their faith. Opponents have rallied for weeks, arguing it could allow for residents to disregard civil rights protections such as local Fairness laws protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens.</p><p></p><p>Those who lobbied for the House to override Beshear's veto denied those accusations vehemently, however.</p><p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 00:56:43 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4689 at http://wfpl.org General Assembly Overrides Gov. Steve Beshear's Veto of 'Religious Freedom' Bill 'Religious Freedom' Bill Sponsor Urges House Leaders to Override Gubernatorial Veto http://wfpl.org/post/religious-freedom-bill-sponsor-urges-house-leaders-override-gubernatorial-veto <p>Kentucky Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, is urging fellow Democrats in the state House to override Governor Steve Beshear's veto of the so-called 'religious freedom' bill.</p><p>The governor <a href="/post/gov-steve-beshear-vetoes-controversial-religious-freedom-bill">blocked the legislation Friday </a>after tremendous pressure to reject the measure, which would allow residents to ignore any laws or regulations that violate tenets of their faith.</p><p><a href="http://wfpl.org/post/gov-steve-beshear-vetoes-controversial-religious-freedom-bill">Opponents included a wide range of social justice groups, state organizations and public officials</a> such as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who argued House Bill 279 was too vague and could threaten civil rights protections for racial minorities, women and LGBT residents.</p><p>Beshear says religious freedom is a cornerstone of American democracy and important to Kentuckians, but the bill’s vague language would be problematic and expensive.</p><p>"I have serious concerns that this bill will cause unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individual civil rights. As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation,” he says. "I’ve heard from many organizations and governmental entities that share these same concerns. Therefore, after giving this measure thoughtful analysis and consideration, today I vetoed the bill."</p><p> Fri, 22 Mar 2013 20:22:05 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4628 at http://wfpl.org 'Religious Freedom' Bill Sponsor Urges House Leaders to Override Gubernatorial Veto Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Comes Out Against 'Religious Freedom' Bill http://wfpl.org/post/louisville-mayor-greg-fischer-comes-out-against-religious-freedom-bill <p>After pressure from local gay rights and city lawmakers, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is asking Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to veto the so-called religious freedom bill.</p><p>The bill would allow residents to ignore any laws or regulations that violate tenets of their faith.</p><p>Last week, the mayor and city commissioners of Covington joined the chorus of those against the legislation.</p><p>In a letter sent to the governor to Tuesday, Fischer says the measure is "well-intentioned" but raises too many legal questions and isn't needed.</p><p>"We are a compassionate city. We don’t need this proposed law, full of ambiguity and question, to prove our religious freedom and protect our citizens from some perceived threat," says Fischer. "We have plenty of laws and a Constitution adopted by our citizens that provide us ample protections—no matter our faith, our profession, or our other rights and traits as human beings."</p><p> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 20:12:09 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4569 at http://wfpl.org Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Comes Out Against 'Religious Freedom' Bill Covington Mayor, City Commissioners Ask Gov. Beshear to Block 'Religious Freedom' Bill http://wfpl.org/post/covington-mayor-city-commissioners-ask-gov-beshear-block-religious-freedom-bill <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The mayor and city commissioners of Covington, Kentucky are asking Governor Steve </span>Beshear<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> to block the so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill, renewing pressure for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to join the opposition.</span></p><p>In a unanimously approved resolution, the commission says HB 279 presents a risk to Covington’s Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered residents.</p><p>Covington Mayor Sherry Carran has also signed a separate letter urging the governor to veto the measure, saying it is a poor representation of the state.</p><p>The bill allows individuals to ignore laws and regulations that violate tenets of their faith, and was overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly. But in the non-binding measure, Covington officials say the measure could undermine civil rights protections under the "guise of a 'sincerely held religious beliefs'"</p><p>Former Covington City Commissioner Shawn Masters says Democrats and Republicans makeup the local assembly, and residents in his city are worried because the law is so broad.</p><p>"It says how progressive Covington actually is. That we are very diverse, we welcome all and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. And it just goes to show here in Northern Kentucky and particularly Covington we are about equality for all," says Masters, who currently serves as president of the Northern Kentucky Democratic League.</p><p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 17:18:27 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4540 at http://wfpl.org Covington Mayor, City Commissioners Ask Gov. Beshear to Block 'Religious Freedom' Bill Noise and Notes: Recaps and Leftovers from the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly http://wfpl.org/post/noise-and-notes-recaps-and-leftovers-2013-kentucky-general-assembly <p></p><p>The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly is nearing its end, but there are plenty of important issues still haven't been addressed.</p><p>At the beginning of the legislative session much was said about the improved personal relationships between Gov. Steve Beshear and state lawmakers—particularly the GOP-controlled Senate. But if Frankfort is more collegial it hasn't improved productivity.</p><p>With two days left for veto days, thorny matters such as pension reform and redistricting haven’t been resolved. No deals are in sight, and there is <a href="http://wfpl.org/post/gov-steve-beshear-no-deal-pension-reform-sight-special-session-becomes-more-likely">talk of a special session to sort those priorities</a> out. Sun, 17 Mar 2013 02:30:00 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4523 at http://wfpl.org Noise and Notes: Recaps and Leftovers from the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly Groups Plan Rally Urging Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to Veto ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill http://wfpl.org/post/groups-plan-rally-urging-kentucky-gov-steve-beshear-veto-religious-freedom-bill <p>Over four-dozen groups are planning a rally to pressure Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to block the so-called 'religious freedom' bill.</p><p>The measure would <a href="http://wfpl.org/post/will-kentucky-religious-freedom-bill-gut-protections-women-minorities-and-gay-residents">allow citizens to ignore laws and regulations based on their religious faith</a>, and it passed both chambers of the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin. Supporters argue the law simply reaffirms the rights for people of faith that have been stripped by the courts.</p><p>Those against HB 279 contend lawmakers failed to closely examine the measure or debate its consequences, which they say could threaten civil rights protections for racial minorities, women and LGBT residents.</p><p>"It is a moment of political courage for the governor," says Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman. "But I think it’s also a moment to send this legislation back to the House to re-address the concerns that it didn’t address the first time when it hastily passed this measure. Up to a day before the bill was called to the House floor it was losing co-sponsors as people were learning more and more about the unintended consequences."</p><p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 19:16:26 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4450 at http://wfpl.org Groups Plan Rally Urging Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to Veto ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Councilwoman Marilyn Parker Declines Government Pension Benefits http://wfpl.org/post/councilwoman-marilyn-parker-declines-government-pension-benefits <p>Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, R-18, is forgoing her government pension benefits, citing the lack of real reforms in the 2013 General Assembly.</p><p>By declining the benefits Parker is saving the city an estimated $8,500 annually and Metro Government will not have to contribute to the state pension system on her behalf.</p><p>Parker says the decisions is meant to send a message to state lawmakers, and alert taxpayers on how serious the pension problem is for Kentucky.</p><p>"It is an issue that deeply concerns me for our state and city budgets. I'm concerned that we're not seeing a fix coming out of Frankfort," she says. "And as time goes on it is going our state and local budgets at risk and government at risk."</p><p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 21:22:10 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4343 at http://wfpl.org Councilwoman Marilyn Parker Declines Government Pension Benefits Will Kentucky 'Religious Freedom' Bill Gut Protections for Women, Minorities and Gay Residents? http://wfpl.org/post/will-kentucky-religious-freedom-bill-gut-protections-women-minorities-and-gay-residents <p>Joining other civil rights group, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is urging Governor Steve Beshear to block a <a href="http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/13RS/HB279.htm">bill that would allow people to ignore laws and regulations violating their religious beliefs</a>.</p><p>Last week, the Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly approved HB 279 by an 82-7 vote. It has now moved on the state Senate, where observers predict it is likely to pass in the GOP-controlled chamber.</p><p>Supporters say the bill strengthens the rights for people of faith and clarifies religious freedom in state law. But civil rights groups such as the ACLU of Kentucky and Louisville Fairness Campaign argue it will gut protections for women, racial minorities and gay residents.</p><p>John Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, tells WFPL the commission agrees "wholeheartedly" with civil rights proponents, adding there is a potential risk for people to use their faith to discriminate.</p><p>"If this bill is adopted people can hide behind religious freedoms and discriminate in anyway they feel. They could say based on my religion I don’t think I should serve people based on interracial marriage. I don’t believe I should serve people because they are of a different religion," he says. "People can hide behind it in anyway, and it just makes it more difficult for the human rights agencies to pursue equality in our state."</p><p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 19:19:23 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4338 at http://wfpl.org Will Kentucky 'Religious Freedom' Bill Gut Protections for Women, Minorities and Gay Residents? Bill Granting Ethics Commission Subpoena Powers Passes House Panel http://wfpl.org/post/bill-granting-ethics-commission-subpoena-powers-passes-house-panel <p>A <a href="http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/13RS/SB117.htm">bill giving the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission subpoena powers</a> sailed through a state House committee on Monday.</p><p>In 2011, a report by the commission complained to the Metro Council about its inability to compel witnesses to testify. Last November, Councilwoman Barbara <a href="http://wfpl.org/post/barbara-shanklin-answers-some-questions-ethics-hearing-again-walks-out">Shanklin, D-2, put that lack of power on display when she twice walked out</a> of her ethics hearing at the instruction of her attorney.</p><p>From <a href="http://bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2013/03/04/house-panel-passes-bill-to-empower-ethics-committees-in-lexington-and-louisville/"><em>The Lexington Herald-Leader</em></a>:</p><blockquote><p>Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the bill was in response to alleged ethics violations of council members in Louisville.</p><p>SB 117 would give ethics committees administrative subpoena power to gather documents and compel witnesses to testify.</p></blockquote><p> Mon, 04 Mar 2013 23:35:02 +0000 Phillip M. Bailey 4327 at http://wfpl.org