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.


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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10:29 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Gun Control Group Continues Ad Campaign Against Mitch McConnell

Credit U.S. Senate

Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a new ad criticizing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over proposed gun control measures.

This is the second spot by the group to target McConnell, and like the previous ad it features a Kentucky gun owner and military veteran who supports a ban on assault weapons.


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7:30 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Mayor Greg Fischer: Poll Validates Local Option Sales Tax Push

Greg Fischer
Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

A new Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll shows an overwhelming number of Kentuckians favor a constitutional amendment that would allow city residents to vote on whether to raise the state sales tax.

The survey found 72 percent of voters support the proposal, while 19 percent are opposed and another 9 percent are not sure. But legislative leaders from both parties in Frankfort have spoken out against the measure, preferring tax reform or raising other fees for special projects.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told WFPL the poll shows residents are behind the idea and he will continue to lobby state lawmakers.

"I’ve been talking to legislators in Frankfort along with other mayors and county judges from around the state to show them that there is in fact strong support at the grassroots level and we hope Frankfort will be listening to the people," he says.

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10:28 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Noise and Notes: Congressman John Yarmuth

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Congressman John Yarmuth is the lone Democrat in Kentucky’s federal delegation.

That makes Yarmuth the only liberal voice arguably in the region, and the lawmaker that the Obama administration confers with over potential federal appointments in the state.

Now in his fifth term in Congress, Yarmuth is the co-sponsor of a number of progressive bills, including campaign finance reforms and gun control measures.

But since 2010, he has been in the minority railing against the Republican-controlled House.

In terms of politics, Yarmuth has been the chief cheerleader for Ashley Judd, who is the rumored top-contender to run against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

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2:55 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Council Democrats, Republicans Launch Social Media Pages

The caucus staff for the Louisville Metro Council Democrats and Republicans have created social media pages to better reach constituents.

Currently, a handful of city lawmakers have official Facebook and Twitter accounts where they update their ordinances and district events.

Others use their personal website to update on their council work, but most have not signed on to social networking to reach out to constituents.

Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says the technology is a good way to let residents know what’s on their agenda, and that more lawmakers will be logging on soon.

"I think the goal is to eventually bring everybody along. You know as well as I do there are some folks who were a little late to the game in understanding how social media operates. Our goal is to get the information out of what’s going on with the caucus, meeting notifications, letting them know about progress reports on certain things," he says.

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1:11 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Planned Parenthood TV Ad Targets Mitch McConnell Over Birth Control

Planned Parenthood released a television attack ad against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday over his support of a lawsuit against a birth-control policy in President Obama's health care law.


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8:30 am
Fri February 22, 2013

United Kentucky Tea Party Accuses Mitch McConnell of Delaying Military Voting Bill

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at a Tea Party rally in Frankfort
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

United Kentucky Tea Party is blaming Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell for stalling a bill in the General Assembly that would have allowed Kentucky's military service members to vote electronically while overseas.

The legislation was spearheaded by Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and backed by Republican state Senate President Robert Stivers.

In January, Stivers told WFPL Frankfort Bureau Chief Kenny Colston he wanted the bill to pass quickly. But at a committee meeting this week, Stivers urged an amendment that weakened the measure.

 From The Lexington Herald-Leader

After the committee unanimously approved the amended version of Senate Bill 1, Stivers acknowledged that he had consulted with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell about the measure. McConnell, a Republican, is seeking re-election next year. Many Democrats are urging Grimes to run against him.

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6:23 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Resolution Honoring Late Councilwoman Judy Green Faces Opposition

A resolution in the Louisville Metro Council honoring the late Judy Green is facing opposition, according to its sponsor.

Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, introduced the non-binding measure in the Community Affairs committee this week.

Green died last month from a heart attack and the resolution praises her for adopting nearly a dozen children and being a foster mother to over 50. The resolution says Green "loved all people” and had an "unyielding generosity" towards District 1 constituents.

In 2011, Green became the first council member booted from office for violating the city’s code of ethics, specifically the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.

Scott says residents were looking for a way to honor Green’s memory and move beyond the controversy, but a handful of city lawmakers raised concerns.

"I explained to my colleagues on council that (Councilwoman Green) being removed from office occurred before I got here," says Scott. "My tenure should not be tainted by what happened previously."

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5:48 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Rand Paul Reticent About Potential Tea Party Challenger to Mitch McConnell

Rand Paul and Matthew Bevin
Credit Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons and

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul isn’t sure if Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin would pose a problem for Mitch McConnell in a primary election.

The wealthy investor acknowledged an interest in taking on McConnell and has been in discussion with Tea Party groups. A Bevin spokeswoman said several individuals have voiced "frustration with their current representation" in Washington.

Speaking in downtown Louisville on Wednesday, Paul says he has been following news reports about the race but hasn't had a chance to speak with Bevin directly.

"I haven’t had any real discussions with him or others about it other than to say I’ve heard the same rumors," says Paul. "I’ve met him before and I’m pretty sure he’s a supporter of mine."

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2:07 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Yarmuth Calls for House Vote on Violence Against Women Act

Credit Phillip M. Bailey/WFPL

Joined by victims' advocates and domestic abuse survivors, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth is calling on House Republican leaders to bring the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act up for a vote.

The bill ensures $659 million in federal funding over five years, and pays for services and legal aide for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It recently passed the Senate with a bipartisan 78-22 vote, but has lingered in the GOP-controlled House.

Yarmuth says it has been more than 500 days since lawmakers allowed the act to expire, and federal money for organizations such as the Louisville-based Center for Women & Families remain uncertain.

"In that time nearly 290,000 Americans, more than 90 percent of them women have been raped or sexually assaulted. That is appalling, and it is unconscionable that Congress has not reauthorized one of the most successful programs in combating this violence," he says.

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