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
7:30 am
Mon September 16, 2013

New Louisville GOP Chair Wants to Focus on Local Elections, Voter Outreach

Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Nathan Haney

The new chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party says reaching beyond east Louisville is key to the local party’s future success.

At the federal level, the GOP controls all but one of Kentucky’s six congressional seats.

In state government Republicans have expanded their majority in the state Senate in recent years, and many believe taking over the state House is within reach next year.

But in Jefferson County, Republicans have struggled in Louisville-area races as of late where Democrats control nearly all of the important elected offices.

Newly elected Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Nathan Haney is looking to change that.

"This is a big county and it’s going to take a big effort. But I definitely agree and I think it is a priority that we outreach not only to south Louisville, but west Louisville is very important to us," says Haney, who is an attorney and former state House candidate.

Among the issues Republicans need to discuss more in Louisville are school choice, lowering homicide rates and changing mandatory sentencing laws, says Haney.

"One of the things that we have got to do is we have got to go places and we’ve got to talk to people, and we’ve got to listen to what their concerns are," he says. "There’s a lot of very basic local issues that we agree wholeheartedly on. But we never give ourselves the chance because a lot of times we haven’t done the outreach efforts that we need to do."

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Politics
11:18 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Louisville Ordinance to Prohibit 4 a.m. Alcohol Sales Sent Back to Committee

Credit Creative Commons

In a bipartisan decision, the Louisville Metro Council voted 16-10 to send an ordinance limiting when liquor and wine can be sold back to committee.

The legislation would've prohibited liquor stores from selling wine and distilled spirits from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., but a proposed amendment that sought to ban late night beer sales put the measure on hold.

Joined by constituents who favor the bill, Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, argued that cutting off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. would help reduce crime and spur economic development in the West End, where most of the late-night liquor stores are concentrated.

"We have to take control of our neighborhoods (and) this is a related issue," Hamilton said. "There are 13 districts here that don't have this problem. Seven of us have an inordinate amount of package liquor stores that have with them the alcohol and drug-related arrests."

But the exemption of beer sales in the ordinance did not sit well with many council members and was roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans for being unfair to businesses.

"The present ordinance before us deals strictly with packaged liquor and wine. It does not deal with beer, and beer is alcohol. It’s as simple as that," said Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, adding he agrees with lawmakers about the problems those stores create. "If a person can’t buy their vodka or their bourbon, they are going to turn to buy a beer. So if we are going to truly address the problem, the problem needs to be addressed across the board and that is alcohol sales after 2 a.m."

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Politics
3:00 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Mitch McConnell Looks to Reclaim Anti-Obamacare Narrative from Conservative Critics

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

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called for a one-year delay to Obamacare for all Americans as its implementation approaches.

The move comes as public support for the president's health care law is waning, including public criticism from labor unions who call it "highly disruptive."

But McConnell's renewed push against the law is also a political calculation back home. It is an attempt to counter-punch a growing chorus of conservative activists and a primary opponent who argue the GOP leader isn't doing enough to de-fund it.

A recent CNN poll shows support for the Affordable Care Act dropped 12 point since January, with just under 40 percent saying they favor the law.

The survey found support plummeted the most among women and Americans who earn less than $50,000 annually.

McConnell says that is a sign Congress must heed, and urged lawmakers to give individuals and families a reprieve as the administration is doing for businesses.

"We need to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare for everyone. That’s what the amendment I’ve filed will do," McConnell said. "And then enact what Kentuckians and Americans really need: a full repeal of this job-killing mess of a law. And that’s just what I intend to keep fighting for."

The senator's amendment to do just that has been attached to an energy bill, and is being co-sponsored by a handful Republican senators 

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Politics
3:02 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Louisville Metro Couldn't Ask Job Applicants About Criminal History Under Council Proposal

Credit Shutterstock

An ordinance forbidding the city and its vendors from asking potential employees about their criminal records on job applications is being introduced this week before the Louisville Metro Council.

The legislation is known as "ban the box" and similar measures have passed in 10 states and more than 50 cities across the U.S.

Under the measure, the city and its private contractors would be prohibited from inquiring about an individual's conviction history on a paper application until it is determined they're otherwise qualified for the position.

"Part of being convicted of a crime and serving ones time is punishment enough," says Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, one of the five Democrats sponsoring the bill. "I'm willing to support asking questions about how old they were, how long has it been and have they served their time. I still think there is warrant for asking those questions eventually, but I certainly don't think it needs to be a checkbox on the application. I think it's immediate red flag when it shouldn't be."

Metro Government can still conduct a background check through the Human Resources Department once the job is formally offered, according to the legislation. And the city and vendors are also allowed to consider the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction and any information pertaining to the person's rehabilitation.

If the city were to reject an application based on their criminal history, the ordinance allows the applicant to appeal within two weeks of the decision.

Bonafacio Aleman is executive director of Kentucky Jobs With Justice and a supporter of the bill. He says many applicants with prior offenses are often disqualified automatically, but they deserve a chance to making a better living

"What’s been found by the Center for Economic and Policy Research report a couple of years ago is folks who have a criminal conviction are 15 to 30 percent less likely to get a job based on the fact of a criminal conviction," he says. "And sometimes the fact is a criminal conviction can be used in a discriminatory manner that goes against fair hiring practices."

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Politics
10:44 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Respond to President Obama's National Address on Syria

Rand Paul

Kentucky lawmakers in Washington are reacting to President Obama's national address where he said he was asking Congress to postpone a vote on authorizing military strikes against Syria as the U.S. pursues diplomatic solutions.

Since the president first said he was seeking congressional approval for a limited attack on the Assad regime, members of the state's federal delegation have voiced either opposition or skepticism to the plan.

Poll numbers show the vast majority of Americans oppose U.S. intervention.

The president acknowledged the public's war weariness but outlined his rationale for why he believes the U.S. should get involved. At least one lawmaker was pleased with Obama's primetime address for clearing a path to diplomacy.

From Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth:

"It is in our national interest to delay a vote on military action against the Syrian government while we pursue diplomatic opportunities to force the Assad regime to surrender its chemical weapons. I strongly support this approach and, like all Americans, will continue to monitor these developments as the international community re-evaluates its responsibilities in Syria."

Others remained oppose to the idea of U.S. intervention, even as reports reflect the Russian government is persuading the Syrian government to release their chemical weapon stockpiles to avert U.S. strikes.

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Politics
6:00 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Liquor Store Owners Propose Wet-Dry Vote for Fourth Street Live in Response to 4 a.m. Ban

Credit Wikipedia Commons

A community activist and a pair of liquor store owners are proposing to hold a wet-dry vote in the precinct containing Fourth Street Live in response to Louisville Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton’s bill to eliminate 4 a.m. sales.

Hamilton's ordinance is set to have a vote before the full council this Thursday, which she maintains is aimed at reducing crime and improving the quality of life.

But crime statistics obtained by WFPL show a relatively low number of alcohol-related incidents in Hamilton's district compared to others, and arrests decline during the hours being targeted by the bill.

The vast majority of liquor stores that carry special licenses allowing 4 a.m. alcohol sales are concentrated in west Louisville.

Critics of the measure argue it is a contradiction, however, for sponsors to go after package retail stores that sell liquor and wine while exempting beer. The group also points out that if alcohol-related incidents are one of the issues Hamilton and others are concerned about then the city's entertainment district needs to be targeted.

"A lot of times when I’m driving home at five o’clock in the morning when I close my store at four, I see people weaving all over the road when they’ve just gotten out of bars," says Barbara Deel, who owns Lucky Junior’s in the Portland neighborhood.

Statistics provided by Metro Police to the council found the highest number of alcohol-related incidents occurred in Councilman David Tandy's district, which covers the Russell and Smoketown neighborhoods, but most of downtown including Fourth Street Live.

Since August 2012, just under 1,500 alcohol involved incidents were reported in Tandy's district compared to just under 400 in Hamilton's area. The data shows more incidents involving alcohol took place in Councilman Tom Owen's district covering the Highlands than in Hamilton's mostly West End district.

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Politics
12:38 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Senator Mitch McConnell Opposes President Obama's Syria Resolution

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

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell ended days of speculation and came out in opposition to President Obama's request for military strikes against Syria.

McConnell said he is not an isolationist and argued the U.S. has a role on the world stage that cannot be ignored, but the GOP slammed the president's foreign policy strategy overall.

He says Obama has been a "reluctant commander-in-chief" and that the administration hasn't made a compelling case for intervention.

“So I will be voting against this resolution. A vital national security risk is clearly not at play, there are just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in Syria, including the fact that this proposal is utterly detached from a wider strategy to end the civil war there, and on the specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons, the president’s proposal appears to be based on a contradiction," he says.

Watch:

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Politics
9:59 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Study: Local Option Sales Tax Would Generate Significant Revenue, but Burden Louisville Taxpayers

A 1-percent local option sales tax would generate $138 million in revenue for the city, but add to an already heavy burden for Louisville taxpayers.

That's according to a study by a University of Louisville research center released Tuesday.

The report conducted by the Urban Studies Institute was paid for with discretionary funds from Republican Councilman Ken Fleming's office earlier this year.

It is the first official examination of the idea, which is being spearheaded by Mayor Greg Fischer as a way to create additional revenue for Metro Government.

Among the chief findings in the 40-page report is that Louisville has the highest income tax rate among its 14 peer cities at about $7,720 for hypothetical family of four with two income earners. The city also has the third-highest overall tax burden when compared to competitor cities property, income and sales taxes combined. 

Fischer has said the local option isn't a tax increase but rather emphasized it's choice for local voters to invest into the community and fund key capital projects. But according to the study, introducing a 1-percent sales tax would bump Louisville up to the second-highest overall taxed city among its peers.

Fleming says he sponsored the study to examine the economic impact and better inform the public, adding its shows the benefits and pitfalls of the plan.

"This study does a really good job at taking an objective point of view and looking at data that provides both the pros and cons of what we're trying to do," he says. "We should have had this debate last year or two years ago, and we need to have it now to understand where we are economically."

Among the benefits of a local option outlined in the study is it help diversifies the city's revenue stream, which is limited to occupational, insurance premiums and property taxes.

The study says due to Louisville's position as a retail shopping and entertainment center a local option could shift a sizeable percentage of the sales taxes those who live outside the county. The effect could mean residents would enjoy economic windfalls for infrastructure or other capitol projects at a reduced tax price.

And depending on the economy, it estimates anywhere from $140 million to $160 million in projected revenue, which is nearly twice as much as the $95 million a year that Fischer's office estimated.

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Politics
7:38 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Congressman Brett Guthrie Voting Against Syria Resolution

Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.

After receiving a classified security briefing, Kentucky Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie is opposing the Obama administration's resolution to launch military strikes against Syria.

The announcement comes as the rest of Kentucky's congressional delegation is either vocally opposing or questioning the president's request to authorize action against the Assad regime.

Fellow Republican congressmen Andy Barr, Thomas Massie and Ed Whitfield have all voiced opposition.

In a statement to WFPL, longtime Kentucky lawmaker Hal Rogers says he wants "precise" details before deciding.

And the lone Democrat in the federal delegation, Congressman John Yartmuth, told WFPL he remains unconvinced by the Obama administration's arguments.

Guthrie says he is voting against the resolution because none of the information shared by Obama's national security advisors on Monday is persuasive enough to support military action.

"There is no doubt that the Middle East is ripe with conflict and that the chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people on August 21 was horrific," Guthrie said in a statement. "But I do not believe that a bombing campaign against the Assad regime would be appropriate, and may even further enflame regional tensions."

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Politics
5:31 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

State Sen. Julie Denton Hopes to Bring 'Integrity' to Louisville Metro Council

State Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, is running for Metro Council
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

Saying she wants to bring integrity to City Hall, Republican state Sen. Julie Denton is forgoing re-election to run for Louisville Metro Council next year.

The surprise move means the longtime state lawmaker is leaving the GOP-controlled Senate, where she currently chairs the chamber’s Health and Welfare Committee, for a council dominated by Democrats.

"I've tried to play well with both sides of the aisle in both chambers while in Frankfort. I've never been a chairman who decided what bills are going to be heard based upon who the support of the bill was," says Denton. "If somebody's got good public policy I think we need to be moving that forward."

Joined by a handful of council Republicans who are supporting Denton's early bid, she is running on a platform to bring transparency and accountability to Metro Government.

Asked about the council's public image in the aftermath of the Barbara Shanklin removal trial, Denton says it was an unfortunate moment in council history that has put a "dark cloud" over the chamber.

"I wasn't there to hear the testimony and only read what was on the news. But based on the fact the majority found her guilty I found it surprising that she wasn't removed," she says.

Denton will be running for the seat currently held by Councilman Jerry Miller, who is leaving the council at the end of his term to make a bid for the state House next year.

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