Phillip M. Bailey

Political Editor

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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Politics
2:41 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Congressman Thomas Massie Breaks from GOP, Votes Against Ryan Budget Plan

Congressman Thomas Massie
Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky Fourth District Congressman Thomas Massie bucked his Republican Party leaders and voted against the GOP-basked 2014 budget because it isn't conservative enough.

The GOP-controlled House narrowly approved the spending plan authored by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin by a 221-207 vote on Thursday.

Conservative supporters had highlighted the cuts to corporate tax rates and slashing $6.4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade as reasons to support the idea.

However, Ryan's plan still raises federal spending by 3.4 percent annually. GOP leaders had said that would be offset by economic growth.

But for the Tea Party-backed Massie that amount was too much. He told WFPL in a telephone interview he came to Washington reduce spending—not increase it—adding Ryan's proposal is nearly twice the rate of inflation.

"The Democrat plan increases government spending by 5 percent per year, that’s ridiculous. That’s like three times the rate of inflation," he says. "The Ryan budget is better because it only increases government by 3.4 percent per year, but that’s still twice the rate of inflation. And when I campaigned, I campaigned saying that we needed to cut spending in Washington, D.C."

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Politics
1:54 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Tackle With TAC4 Hosting Immigration Forum

A Louisville-based consulting firm is hosting a forum on immigration reform with the hope of finding common ground.

In the past year, TAC 4 Solutions had held several public discussions on tough political issues such as gun control, campaign finance reform and President Obama’s health care law. The group's aim is to hold respectful dialogue and change the tone of political conversation.

There appears to be movement on improving the immigration system after Republicans performed poorly among Hispanics in the fall election.

Recently, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., delivered a speech on immigration reform that was praised by liberal and Tea Party activists. Paul noted that Republicans have been losing "both the respect and votes" of Hispanics due to the GOP's "harsh rhetoric."

Kate Miller is a program director with the ACLU of Kentucky, and a featured panelist. She says it is encouraging to hear Paul’s remarks because the majority of Americans want to improve the system.

"We haven’t had an opportunity to review all of Senator Paul’s proposal, but I can assure you that we are thrilled that his proposal includes a pathway to citizenship," she says. "And really it’s not surprising that someone with his political background would support a more practical system. As most people know, it’s very expensive to maintain our current immigration system."

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Local News
4:35 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Joins Democrat to Give Judges More Flexibility in Federal Sentencing

Senator Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

Joining Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced a bill to allow judges greater flexibility in sentencing federal crimes where a mandatory minimum punishment is considered unnecessary.

The bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 will expand the so-called "safety valve", which allows judges to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum in qualifying drug cases.   

Leahy and Paul are polar opposites politically, but the two senators agree more latitude is needed to address the country's growing prison population and spiraling costs. 

For many critics, the "tough-on-crime" of the past 30 years have created laws that disproportionately effect minorities and the poor.

Paul emphasizes that the mandatory laws are a part of federal overreach where more judicial discretion is needed.

"Our country’s mandatory minimum laws reflect a Washington-knows-best, one-size-fits-all approach, which undermines the Constitutional Separation of Powers, violates the our bedrock principle that people should be treated as individuals, and costs the taxpayers money without making them any safer," Paul said in a news release. "This bill is necessary to combat the explosion of new federal criminal laws, many of which carry new mandatory minimum penalties."

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Politics
4:12 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Comes Out Against 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

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.

The bill would allow residents to ignore any laws or regulations that violate tenets of their faith.

Last week, the mayor and city commissioners of Covington joined the chorus of those against the legislation.

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.

"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."

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Politics
1:18 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Covington Mayor, City Commissioners Ask Gov. Beshear to Block 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Steve Beshear
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

The mayor and city commissioners of Covington, Kentucky are asking Governor Steve Beshear to block the so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill, renewing pressure for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to join the opposition.

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.

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.

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'"

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.

"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.

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Politics
7:00 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Council Democrats Urge ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Veto; Opponents Note Fischer's Absence

Joining dozens of civil rights groups, six Democratic members of the Louisville Metro Council have signed a letter asking Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to block the ‘religious freedom’ bill.

The bill allows individuals to ignore laws and regulations that violate tenets of their faith, and it passed overwhelmingly in both chambers of the General Assembly. Supporters point to court decisions that have made it easier for the government to infringe on First Amendment rights for religious beliefs.

But opponents argue the measure is too broad and therefore could threaten protections for racial minorities, women and members of the LGBT community.

The Louisville Fairness Campaign circulated the petition to council members, but did not approach any council Republicans to sign it.

Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, says she signed the letter to Beshear because the bill compromises civil rights laws in Kentucky.

"I’m very disappointed that people in our state legislature fail to think more about the people across the state who may identify differently than they do and who definitely need these additional protections from any kind of discrimination," she says.

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Politics
10:30 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Noise and Notes: Recaps and Leftovers from the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly

Credit Louisville Public Media

The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly is nearing its end, but there are plenty of important issues still haven't been addressed.

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.

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 talk of a special session to sort those priorities out.

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Politics
6:25 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll

Credit U.S. Senate

  Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, beating several high-profile names among his party's potential 2016 White House contenders.

Paul edged out GOP rival and fellow Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the largely symbolic survey among a crowded field of two dozen candidates. Those Paul bested include former Republican vice presidential nominees Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan. 

Kentucky's junior senator won with 25 percent of the vote, ahead of Rubio who had 23 percent and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who came in was third place with 8 percent.

From USA Today:

Lauri Dabbieri, a high school teacher from Fairfax County, Va., said she voted for Paul when she heard the senator say he would abolish the federal Department of Education, which she called "completely useless.' Education is a local issue, she said.

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Politics
8:25 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Council Members Laud Metro Police for Impounding Roofing Company Truck Over Illegal Dumping

Louisville Metro Council members are praising Metro Police for impounding a dump truck allegedly involved in illegal dumping in the Fairdale neighborhood.

According to council staff, police received a complaint on Wednesday of shingles and roofing materials being illegally dropped off on Manslick Road.

Officers arrived at the scene and found a truck belonging to Elkins & Sons of Louisville that was later impounded.

"I applaud the quick work of the officer who answered this call about illegal dumping," Councilwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, said in a news release. "I am also glad to see the public is getting involved in stopping people who believe they can use our streets, alleys, vacant fields and roadways as their own personal dumping ground."

Last year, city lawmakers strengthened an ordinance to empower law enforcement to seize vehicles caught illegally dumping.

The council also added funding to the budget for 19 new cameras targeting problem areas where there have been repeated cases of trash and other junk items being dropped off improperly

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Politics
7:03 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Calls for New GOP at CPAC

Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said the GOP has "grown stale and moss covered" and needs to embrace libertarianism.

"The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we're going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP," he said.

For many conservatives, Paul's nearly 13-hour filibuster of CIA director John Brennan in protest of President Obama's drone policies puts him at the head of the line for presidential contenders in 2016.

The high-profiled speech gave Paul a chance to court the so-called "Facebook generation" on privacy matters, and explain why he favors limits on presidential power.

Paul's remarks also gave him a chance to rebuke GOP rival and fellow Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who right before Paul's speech said the party didn't need new ideas.

Watch the full speech:

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