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
4:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Kentucky Secretary of State Forming Advisory Group to Explore Early Voting

Ky. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit File photo

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to explore the possibility of early voting in the commonwealth.

Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia permit a version of early voting that allows residents to cast their ballot prior to Election Day without an excuse.

Kentucky is surrounded by states that do allow early voting such as Indiana and Ohio, and state law only allows absentee voting for specific reasons such as pregnancy, being disable or military service.

Grimes says after the 2012 presidential race her office wants to review the effectiveness of eleciton procedures, adding she is concerned that Kentuckian’s voices aren’t being heard.

"During the period leading up to the general election we had a lot of Kentuckians who questioned what Kentucky’s current laws are regarding absentee voting. And right now here in the state of Kentucky you cannot vote early without an excuse," she says. "And at this time I think it is prudent for us to listen to the voices of the citizens who we work so hard to protect, and to respond to our customers."

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Politics
2:34 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Congressman John Yarmuth Praises Obama's Gun Violence Task Force

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

In reaction to President Obama launching a task force to address gun violence, Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth is praising the effort to tackle the issue in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

The president pledged at a press conference Wednesday that the group—led by Vice President Joe Biden—will work swiftly to present recommendations for Congress to act on. It is the most forceful push by the administration to tackle gun control, and supporters say they are eager to see specific proposals.

Earlier this week, Yarmuth called for comprehensive regulations for firearms in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and plans to co-sponsor legislation to ban on assault weapons.

"I share the president’s commitment to strengthening our nation’s gun laws, and I thank him for approaching the complex problem of gun violence in a comprehensive way," Yarmuth said in a statement. "Whether it is reinstating the ban on assault weapons and getting high-capacity ammunition magazines off our streets, expanding background checks to help ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, addressing gaps in our mental health care system, or other failures, we must address all the factors that contribute to gun violence in our society. This task force will help in those efforts."

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Politics
1:00 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Occupy Louisville, Justice Resource Center Rally Against Domestic Spending Cuts

Occupy Louisville and the Justice Resource Center are holding a demonstration at Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's office to protest against any domestic spending cuts as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.

The negotiations in Washington to avoid the $607 billion combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases continue with the end of the year deadline approaching.

This week the White House threatened to veto Speak John Boehner’s "plan B," which includes raising tax rates on Americans making over $1 million annually. House Republicans argue their plan avoids tax hikes on most income earners, but the Obama administration says it doesn't raise enough revenue and burdens the middle-class.

Ike Thacker is an Occupy Louisville spokesman. He says the groups oppose any cuts to social programs that help the poor and would prefer cuts to the defense department.

"The things that need to be cut are not social programs. We spend in the neighborhood of $20 to $30 billion on welfare and around $70 billion on food stamps, which means roughly speaking $100 billion. While we spend well over $1 trillion every year in one form or another on our military," he says. "If we want to go where the spending is to do the spending cuts it does not need to be in social programs, but in the military."

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Politics
11:45 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Beshear Encourages Moment of Silence Friday for Newtown Shooting Victims

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear
Credit Kentucky Governor's Office

Governor Steve Beshear is encouraging fellow Kentuckians to observe a moment of silence on Friday morning to honor the victims of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last week.

The governor of Connecticut called for the observance earlier this week and asked that all other states join in the remembrance.

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Politics
10:57 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Rand Paul: Tim Scott Appointment Will Help GOP, Tea Party Among Black Voters

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says the appointment of Congressman Tim Scott, R-S.C., to the Senate could help Republicans and the Tea Party among African-Americans.

Scott will succeed retiring Sen. Jim DeMint, who is leaving for the Heritage Foundation. The appointment will make Scott the only black senator in the chamber next year.

As observers note, Scott's prominence is due in large part to the Tea Party wave that elected him in 2010.

From NPR:

Scott touts a Tea Party message of drastically smaller government, and beyond that he has endeared himself to many conservatives with his willingness to criticize President Obama.

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Politics
4:56 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

McConnell: The Nation Stands With Newtown

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell expressed sympathies for the victims and survivors of the shooting massacre Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

McConnell says the murder of so many children shatters America’s heart, and that President Obama spoke for the nation when he talked about the importance of bond parents have with their children.

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Politics
2:03 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Mitch McConnell Praises Tim Scott Appointment to Senate

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Tim Scott
Credit U.S. Congress

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is praising the appointment of Congressman Tim Scott, R-S.C., to the succeeded retiring Sen. Jim DeMint.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her decision Monday, making Scott the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.

The 47-year-old congressman was the favorite among conservatives to take DeMint's seat, and McConnell noted the history in Haley's decision.

From McConnell's office:

"I want to congratulate Congressman Scott on his appointment to the United States Senate. As a solid conservative who fights hard for the values and principles he believes in, Tim will help us find real, lasting solutions to the economic challenges facing our nation in the 113th Congress. This is truly an historic moment for the Palmetto State from a Governor who’s broken more than a few barriers in her own career."

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Politics
1:01 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Yarmuth Calls for Comprehensive Gun Control in Wake of Sandy Hook Shooting

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says lawmakers need to get behind comprehensive gun control in the aftermath of a elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Last Friday, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School with an assault rifle and two semi-automatic pistols, killing 20 children and six adults. The shooting has sparked a national debate about the Second Amendment, and gun control groups have been pushing for stricter laws.

However, gun right's advocates such as Congressman Louie Gohmert, R-Tx., have suggested the school’s principal should have been armed as a way to protect the students and staff.

Yarmuth says arming more citizens is not the answer, and that groups like the National Rifle Association ought to be open to reasonable regulations.

"The National Rifle Association has spent untold millions of dollars instilling fear in our citizens and our politicians. That organization, which regularly fails to represent the responsible attitudes of its members, wants us to believe that the best protection against the irresponsible and lethal use of guns is for everyone to be armed," he says. "And while no specific gun regulation may have prevented the deaths of the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary children, 6 and 7-year-old children, the answer simply cannot be a gun in every elementary school lunchbox."

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Politics
9:17 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Audit Finds No Agreement Between City, Dismas Charities

An internal audit could not find a signed agreement between Louisville Metro Government and Dismas Charities Inc. regarding the use of inmates from the non-profit’s halfway house at city departments.

The report includes a number of other troubling findings, including that Dismas workers were not consistently signing in or out at their assignments, did have proper monitoring of their activity and that their work logs were incomplete.

(Read the audit report here.)

Dismas is a non-profit group that through the Kentucky Department of Corrections houses inmates at its various halfway houses. While residing at those facilities, inmates are required to participate in community service and many work at Metro agencies as they transition to life outside of prison.

Mayor Greg Fischer's office told WFPL they were surprised to learn the city had no written contract with Dismas, and are working to address the problems and develop a corrective action plan.

"It was new information to us that there wasn’t a signed agreement. Obviously, we’ll get one executed," says mayoral spokesman Chris Poynter. "This audit clearly points out that there are deficiencies and we have developed a corrective action plan to deal with those deficiencies."

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Politics
10:35 pm
Sat December 15, 2012

Noise and Notes: Can Anyone Beat Mitch McConnell?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Credit U.S. Senate

Respect him or not, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership role in Washington cannot be ignored.

For weeks speculation has been growing about who will take on the powerful GOP leader two years from now. One Democrat—Owensboro home builder Ed Marksberry—has stepped forward, but with little excitement.

The national media has focused much of its attention on actress Ashley Judd, who would bring Hollywood star power to the race.

But prominent state Democratic leaders have voiced skepticism if not outright opposition to her celebrity candidacy in the commonwealth.

Others point to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who many view as the most popular choice. And a recent survey showed Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is within striking distance.

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