Noise & Notes

On air Saturdays at 10pm.

On Noise & Notes, WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey doesn't just discuss the issues, he dissects them. From city government to national politics, Phillip has covered it all. 

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Politics
7:59 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

U.S. Senator Rand Paul Shoots Down Kentucky Attorney General Opinion on Hemp Production

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., disagrees with Attorney General Jack Conway's opinion that industrial hemp farming remains illegal in Kentucky.

Earlier this year state lawmakers passed a bill allowing farmers to grow the crop if the federal government lifts a longstanding ban. 

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Politics
4:30 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Pitches Local Option Sales Tax to State Lawmakers

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says a sales tax option is fundamentally about residents having the right to vote on paying for local projects.

Fischer joined the Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and county leaders from across the state in the state capitol to discuss the proposal at a General Assembly committee hearing Wednesday.

The specifics of a proposed local option sales tax in Kentucky haven't been revealed, but in general it would allow voters to approve a 1-percent tax increase that would go toward specific efforts such as new infrastructure.

Fischer says cities need a more diversified revenue stream but stressed any tax hike would be temporary.

"It’s outside of the general fund. It’s specific. So if it’s on the ballot it’ll identify the project, how much it costs, the duration of construction and it’s temporary. It’s going to go away," he said. "Now if people want to vote a new project back in they can do that. But once the specified amount of money is raised this tax sunsets and goes away.

State lawmakers have given mixed reviews while saying they will keep an open mind about the proposal.

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Politics
2:13 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Matt Bevin Praises Ted Cruz, Slams Mitch McConnell on Defunding Obamacare Fight

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin joins a rally by Tea Party activists outside Mitch McConnell's office
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

A group of Tea Party and conservative activists rallied outside of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Louisville office, calling for the defunding of the president’s health care law.

Joined by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, over a dozen demonstrators spoke in support of Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, who held a nearly 24-hour marathon talk on the Senate floor to oppose the Affordable Care Act.

But McConnell disagreed with Cruz's tactic to block a federal spending bill that takes out funding Obamacare in order to keep Senate Democrats from amending the measure.

Instead, McConnell supports having a majority vote to defund the health care law while pressuring Democrats to join the GOP caucus.

Saying the GOP establishment needs to do more those rallying in downtown Louisville took McConnell's leadership to task, however.

"I can’t understand why Mitch McConnell won’t wake up and realize that (Obama) is trying to destroy us and destroy Kentucky. He’s the mouthpiece that not only we have but he represents the Republican Party in all of the United States right now," says Dan Johnson, a bishop at Heart of Fire Church in Louisville. "And if he don’t get off of his butt and get up and do what’s right, if he has any heart for the American people he will not fund Obamcare. It's time to defund Obamacare, it's time America is heard and this needs to end today."

The tactical disagreement in the GOP has been a divisive fight that was brought more to the surface by Cruz, who implicitly criticized leaders in both parties for not heeding the public's apprehensions about the health care law.

McConnell is maintaining Republican senators are united against funding the health care law, and would much rather talk about the Democrats.

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Politics
6:58 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Tea Party Nation Reconsidering Endorsement of McConnell Over Cruz's Anti-Obamacare Plan

Republican U.s. Sen. Mitch McConnell at a tea party rally in Kentucky.
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

In the midst of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's lengthy floor speech against the president's health care law, a tea party group is having second thoughts about endorsing GOP Leader Mitch McConnell for re-election next year.

Earlier today, McConnell rejected Cruz's plan to filibuster the House spending bill which funds the government past Oct. 1 but does not pay for Obamacare.

"We'd all be hard pressed to explain how we're against a bill we're all in favor of," McConnell told reporters.

But as a number of high-profiled conservatives—such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus—have come out to support Cruz's floor speech, the Tea Party Nation that backed McConnell in July is publicly reconsidering that decision.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers to Discuss Local Option Sales Tax

Credit File photo

A committee in the Kentucky General Assembly will discuss the idea of giving local voters an option to raise their sales tax to fund special projects.

State lawmakers tell WFPL they are keeping an open mind, but some cite a recent study showing Louisville is already a heavily tax-burdened city.

For the past year, Mayor Greg Fischer has been lobbying the General Assembly and others to support the idea.

The specifics haven't been unveiled, but in general a local option would allow voters to approve a temporary 1-percent tax increase that would go towards specific efforts such as new infrastructure.

A report conducted by the University of Louisville found such as tool could generate up to $138 million in revenue for the city.

Democratic state Rep. Steve Riggs of Louisville is co-chair of the Interim Committee on Local Government, which is holding a hearing to discuss the proposal on Wednesday.

He says a temporary tax is an intriguing idea, but it is important legislators learn more about the proposal.

"I'm leaning for it because I see so many other communities around the nation that do it and I love letting the citizen decide and giving the citizen the liberty to determine where there money goes without sending it to Frankfort first and then it goes somewhere else. I love that part of it,” he says.

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Politics
12:34 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Urging Senate Democrats to Join Defund Obamacare Fight, McConnell Rejects Cruz's Plan

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit File photo

Speaking on the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cut ties with Sen. Ted Cruz's threat to use a filibuster against a bill with language defunding the president's health care law.

Facing increasing criticism from conservative groups and a primary opponent, McConnell argued Senate Democrats need to join the effort in order to take out funding for Obamacare while avoiding a government shutdown.

"I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare," McConnell said. "All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that."

The House passed a spending measure to fund the federal government past Oct. 1, but it does not pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz is urging the GOP caucus to vote against that legislation because Democrats have indicated they will amend it to restore the health care law's funding. He argues any vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor is in effective supporting Obamacare as a whole.

Rather than focus on GOP infighting, McConnell proposed Democrats ought to join the effort to defund the law by having a simple majority vote on the House bill.

"Democrats have been hearing the same complaints about Obamacare the rest of us have. The spotlight should really be on them. This is a rare opportunity to defund the law with a simple majority. We should have that vote," he said.

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Politics
1:11 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Ed Marksberry Announces Independent Bid for Kentucky U.S. Senate Race

U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry of Owensboro, Ky.
Credit Hillbillyreport.org

Saying Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes isn't speaking to progressives or their issues, Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry is dropping out of the primary to run as an independent.

Marksberry is an Owensboro building contractor who has been running a decidedly liberal campaign to take on Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in next year's election.

In a telephone interview with WFPL, Marksberry—who ran for Congress in 2012—says he plans to speak to the environment, poverty and gay rights in particular.

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Politics
7:30 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Ky. Environmentalists Want Alison Lundergan Grimes to Address Energy Future Beyond Coal

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes

In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, environmentalists says there's little to distinguish Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes from Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell on coal.

But activists say what they're most disappointed about is Grimes hasn't outlined an agenda that speaks to the future of Kentucky's economy or the country's energy needs.

Ahead of new federal rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the Grimes campaign presented a decidedly pro-coal message by scolding the Obama administration.

When the Environmental Protection Agency released those proposed standards last week, Grimes reiterated her disappointment, saying the regulations were "out of touch" with Kentucky's needs and would hurt middle-class families.

The Grimes campaign told WFPL the first-term secretary of state does acknowledge climate change and the effects carbon emissions have on the planet's weather patterns.

But aides quickly pivoted to emphasize what they call "unnecessary regulations" that hurt Kentuckians who rely on the coal industry to provide for their families.

"While it is important to protect the environment, it is just as important to make sure the men and women of Kentucky are able to provide for their families,"  said Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton. "As Senator, Alison will work to protect the jobs of hardworking Kentuckians in any solution to the changing climate."

A 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that greenhouse gases created by coal-fired plants are pollutants that are harmful to human health, and are thus subject to regulation.

Longtime Louisville environmental activist Sarah Lynn Cunningham says voters who care about the environment are frustrated with Grimes and that enthusiasm is already declining more than a year before Election Day.

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Politics
1:20 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Congressman Hal Rogers Says He Will Work to Protect Needy Constituents from Food Stamp Cuts

Congressman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.,

Republican House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky says he will work to protect constituents in need from the proposed $40 billion in cuts to the federal food stamps program he voted for.

But the longtime GOP lawmaker argues too many "able-bodied" adults were allowed to benefit from the program under President Obama's watch.

Rogers joined 216 other Republicans to slash the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program on Thursday.

At issue for Rogers and other Republicans is the increase of Americans on food stamps in recent years. Those critics argue that is the result of changes to the rules of eligibility made by the Obama administration.

From Rogers's office:

"SNAP desperately needs reform and restructuring, but I recognize this is a vital program for transitioning families in southern and eastern Kentucky.

Under President Obama’s watch 1.7 million more able-bodied adults have started collecting federal food aid. Without Congressional consent, the President also removed bipartisan common-sense work requirements to maintain eligibility.

"This has forced struggling children, seniors, veterans, and families, clearly in need of assistance, to compete against scammers, lottery winners, gamblers and others who may be able to work, but simply refuse. H.R. 3102 seeks to correct these abuses and errors without cutting food assistance to our neighbors who need help the most.

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Politics
7:33 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Lone Kentucky Lawmaker to Vote Against $40 Billion in Food Stamp Cuts

Credit File photo

In a close vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed plan to cut food stamps by $40 billion over the next decade, which supporters say will bring sustainability to the program while saving the taxpayer's money.

Lawmakers approved the proposal by a 217-210 vote on Thursday with 15 GOP members joining the entire Democratic caucus who voted against the bill.

The cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are nearly double as much as an earlier measure rejected by the House in June.

But supporters of the assistance program argue this could have a disproportionate impact on poorer states like Kentucky, where one out of six households report facing serious problems affording nutritious food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food stamps benefits go to around 820,000 Kentuckians per month. In the final tally, all but one of Kentucky's six representatives voted for the cuts.

"Today’s House vote to strip nearly $40 billion from federal food assistance programs directly threatens the health and financial security of the more than 44,000 Louisville families who depend on these programs to put food on their tables," says Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, who voted against the bill. "These cuts would also needlessly weaken our economy, as every $5 spent on food assistance generates $9 in local economic activity."

But GOP lawmakers who favored the proposal drafted by Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, highlight the rise of food stamp recipients in the past five years as a need to bring solvency to the program. The argue it simply restores eligibility limits to their original levels, and maintains funding for food assistance in other areas.

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