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2:59 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Blames 'Extreme' GOP Wing for Government Shutdown

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Calling it Washington, D.C., "silliness," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is blaming the government shutdown on a faction in the Republican Party, which he argues is holding the country hostage.

The mayor's comments come as federal lawmakers appear to be further entrenched in their positions.

Congress failed to reach a budget deal on Monday to finance the government and certain services.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate rejected the latest House effort to hold a conference ,and no meetings between President Obama and congressional leaders have been set.

Fischer, a Democrat, joined a chorus of elected officials outside of Washington who are scolding lawmakers over the shutdown and its possible effects on state and local governments.

"If there’s a prolonged shutdown that’s going to affect the confidence of people and that’s not going to be good for business. We do not need to go back into another recession because of this silliness that’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now where people can’t come together on agreement," he says.

This shutdown is the first in nearly two decades, and its biggest impact thus far is the furloughing of around 800,000 federal employees across the country. As of 2011, approximately 9,000 federal employees were working in Louisville, but not all of them will be furloughed if they’re considered essential personnel.

A number of monuments and agencies have already announced their closures, such as the Library of Congress and National Zoo with more expected this week.

In the first day of the shutdown, many lawmakers spent the day trying to avoid taking the political blame.

Speaking on the Senate Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky once again criticized Democrats for killing the fourth measure out of the GOP-controlled House.

"They’ve now said they won’t even agree to sit down and work out our differences. They won’t even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise," he says.

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Politics
1:55 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Kentucky State Sen. Bob Leeper Won't Seek Re-Election

Bob Leeper
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky state Sen. Bob Leeper says he will not run for re-election in 2014.

The Paducah independent said the decision to step away from office was difficult.

“It’s a complete change of course, so it’s not easy to do, but it comes a time when you realize it’s time and you should give somebody else a chance," Leeper said. "There’s a lot of good people out here I think that may step up and run, and I look forward to seeing who makes that decision.”

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Local News
11:31 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Kentucky's Health Insurance Marketplace Back Online After Experiencing Technical Problems

UPDATE: 3:50 pm: Kentucky officials says the technical issues have been fixed and the state's online health insurance exchange known as kynect (sounds like 'connect') is up and running.

"The Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange system was thoroughly tested prior to Oct. 1, however, the issue discovered today could not be replicated within the test environment," officials say.

Activity on kynect as of 2:30 p.m. Oct. 1 (info from Cabinet for Health and Family Services)

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Politics
11:17 am
Tue October 1, 2013

In Lawsuits, Kentucky Statehouse Employees Claim Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

Attorneys filing lawsuit with clients Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner.
Credit Jonathan Meador/WFPL News

FRANKFORT — In the latest salvo in the sexual misconduct allegations in the Kentucky General Assembly, three Statehouse staffers filed lawsuits Tuesday against two state legislators, claiming sexual harassment and retaliation.

The lawsuits also name the Legislative Research Commission as a defendant. The lawsuit filed against former state Rep. John A. Arnold Jr. also names House Speaker Greg Stumbo, claiming he didn't prioritize an investigation into sexual harassment claims.

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Local News
9:00 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Jimmy Carter and Others to Receive Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award in Louisville

Muhammad Ali
Credit Ira Rosenberg / Wikimedia Commons

Former President Jimmy Carter and singer Christina Aguilera will be among the first recipients of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards.

The awards will be handed out  Thursday evening at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. 

Carter will be recognized with the Muhammad Ali Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts in humanitarian rights. Others include singer Christina Aguilera, who’ll receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award for her efforts to end world hunger.

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Local News
6:00 am
Tue October 1, 2013

WFPL Panel Discussion on 'Building a Healthier Louisville' Today

Credit Shutterstock.com

Last month, the Greater Louisville Project released a study that said how long residents live depends largely on their level of educational attainment and their neighborhood. 

City leaders said they wanted the study to galvanize residents to act upon the health issues facing Louisville. 

The study will be the topic of a WFPL panel discussion  on Monday in Louisville Public Media's performance studio.

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Politics
9:59 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Mitch McConnell: 'Americans Don't Want a Government Shutdown and They Don't Want Obamacare'

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

Hours away from a government shutdown, the Democratic-controlled Senate once again rejected a House Republican spending plan that seeks to delay the president's health care law.

The party line 54-46 vote continues the back-and-forth between the two chambers with less than three hours before the midnight deadline.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also repeated his statement blaming Senate Democrats as a partial shutdown appeared inevitable.

From McConnell's office:

"Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want Obamacare. But Senate Democrats have once again blocked a House-passed bill to keep the government open while protecting Americans from the consequences of Obamacare.

The fact that the President is unilaterally granting waivers to some Americans but not others shows that even he doesn’t think Obamacare is ready for primetime. There is bipartisan support for providing the same treatment to individuals and families that the White House has already given employers.

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Politics
7:10 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Acknowledging GOP Will Be Blamed, Congressman Thomas Massie Describes Shutdown as 'Not a Big Deal'

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

Rep.Thomas Massie acknowledges Republicans will face the brunt of the blame if the government shuts down at midnight.

But the freshman lawmaker from Kentucky's Fourth District says constituents have told him it is "not a big deal" if certain federal agencies and functions close.

"I’m certain we'll get blamed for it," Massie told WFPL this afternoon. "But that’s also (Senate Democratic Leader) Harry Reid’s motive for running out the clock today. And they’re hoping there is a shutdown for their own political gain."

On Monday afternoon, the Senate once again rejected a House spending bill backed by Republicans, which sought to delay Obamacare by one year and repeal the medical device tax.

This was slightly different measure than an earlier GOP pitch to take out funding for the Affordable Care Act altogether.

Democrats have made it clear any efforts to undermine the health care law are a non-starter, however.

Polling figures show 46 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans if a shutdown takes place. The same survey finds 36 percent believe the Democrats and president would be responsible.

The political backlash isn't lost on a group of moderate House Republicans who are reportedly planning a revolt against GOP leadership and more conservative members.

Massie is part of a group in the House members who spoke with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who strategized to oppose House Speaker John Boehner's plan. Asked about the impact on Kentucky, he told WFPL a partial shutdown will have limited real world effects.

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Local News
5:47 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

U of L Gets $23 Million in Grants for Tobacco Research

The University of Louisville will receive or oversee more than $23 million in grants for tobacco-related research.

Most of the funds will be used to establish the Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center.  Its work on the health effects of tobacco will be used to help shape FDA regulation of tobacco products.   U of L will also oversee the allocation of funds to six other universities for the same purpose.

Environment
4:52 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

University of Kentucky Awarded Federal Grant to Develop Carbon Capture Technology

Erica Peterson WFPL

The University of Kentucky will receive nearly $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to further develop technologies that can reduce the emission of green house gases from coal-fired power plants. 

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