Noise & Notes

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
12:39 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Congressman Ed Whitfield Bypassing Fundraiser Amid Government Shutdown

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.,

Kentucky First District Congressman is skipping a scheduled fundraiser this weekend, joining other lawmakers who are hurrying to cancel campaign events amid the government shutdown.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Republican lawmaker indicated to The Lexington Herald-Leader the congressman was attending a pricey event in Arizona despite furloughing staff.

From H-L:

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Politics
6:42 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Fischer Administration Official: 'Ban The Box' Would Complicate Metro Louisville's Hiring Process

Credit Shutterstock

Saying Louisville Metro has a policy not to ask about criminal records on job applications, Metro Human Resources Director Kellie Watson warned council members the so-called "ban the box" ordinance could complicate the city's hiring process.

But supporters believe the legislation is still needed in order to give convicted felons a fair chance when seeking employment.

The council's Labor and Economic Development Committee held its first hearing on the measure Thursday to gather more information about the proposal.

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Politics
10:57 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Senators Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Say Kentucky Not Buying Obamacare

U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell (l) and Rand Paul (r)
Credit U.S. Senate

In a rebuttal to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's editorial praising the Affordable Care Act, Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul argue Kentucky isn't buying into the president's health care law.

The health exchange dubbed Kynect launched on Tuesday allowing residents to shop for an insurance plan as part of the federal law, better known as Obamacare.

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Politics
6:14 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth Calls for 'Clean' Spending Bill Vote as GOP Support Grows

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

As President Obama meets with leaders in Washington, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says there is enough support in the Republican-controlled House to pass a so-called "clean" spending bill to end the government shutdown.

But the remaining members of Kentucky's congressional delegation appear unwilling to accept such a plan even as more GOP members are supporting the idea.

"The solution to this crisis is simple: There is enough bipartisan support in the House right now to approve legislation to fund the government, send it to the president’s desk immediately and end this shutdown," Yarmuth told WFPL. "Every day they delay, House Republicans are hurting workers, small business owners, and millions of American families who depend on federal agencies, programs, and services."

House Democrats are pressuring Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders to put forward a measure that doesn't attach any provisions to de-fund or delay President Obama's health care law.

A tally by The Washington Post shows there are now 21 GOP members who say they are either willing to and leaning towards voting for a "clean" continuing resolution.

That means a bill to fund the government would pass if the 200 Democrats went along.

In order for that vote to take place, however, Boehner would have to break the coveted "Hastert Rule" which forbids legislation that doesn't have the majority of the party in control's support.

A spokesman for Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie says the conservative lawmaker has already supported five "clean" bills that fund specific areas of the federal government.

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Politics
1:43 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Two Kentucky Lawmakers Highlight Government Shutdown's Effects on Kentucky Women

Mary Lou Marzian
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky state Reps. Joni Jenkins and Mary Lou Marzian are highlighting the effects of the federal government shutdown on women.

The two Democrats were in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with lawmakers and hope Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will keep those adverse impacts in mind as potential negotiations begin.

"Certainly the furloughing of employees—half of those or more are going to be single females who are heads of families—and I don't know how many of your listeners can go without paycheck for a day, a week or possibly longer," said Jenkins, whose district covers parts of western Jefferson County. "That money not coming into our communities is going to trickle down to all sorts of businesses."

Beyond federal workers there is growing concern about social services that could be impacted.

Almost 9 million new mothers and young children rely on programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children or WIC. But federal officials have warned funding for WIC could run out in the next week or so.

Observers expect the shutdown to last at least that long even as President Obama is inviting congressional leaders, including McConnell, to the White House Wednesday afternoon to possibly negotiate.

Marzian says the shutdown is a disaster for women on a number of fronts and low-income mothers in particular, adding the blame should be on Tea Party-backed Republicans in the House.

"It's going to really effect women being able to feed their families and pay their rent as these programs run out of money in the next weeks," she says. "But the Tea Party and these right-wing Republicans care nothing about women and children. They only care about themselves and pushing their agenda forward. However, they care about fetuses but once you’re here you’re on your own."

Last year, over 132,000 pregnant women and new mothers in Kentucky received nutrition assistance through WIC programs for their young children.

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Politics
2:59 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Blames 'Extreme' GOP Wing for Government Shutdown

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Calling it Washington, D.C., "silliness," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is blaming the government shutdown on a faction in the Republican Party, which he argues is holding the country hostage.

The mayor's comments come as federal lawmakers appear to be further entrenched in their positions.

Congress failed to reach a budget deal on Monday to finance the government and certain services.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate rejected the latest House effort to hold a conference ,and no meetings between President Obama and congressional leaders have been set.

Fischer, a Democrat, joined a chorus of elected officials outside of Washington who are scolding lawmakers over the shutdown and its possible effects on state and local governments.

"If there’s a prolonged shutdown that’s going to affect the confidence of people and that’s not going to be good for business. We do not need to go back into another recession because of this silliness that’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now where people can’t come together on agreement," he says.

This shutdown is the first in nearly two decades, and its biggest impact thus far is the furloughing of around 800,000 federal employees across the country. As of 2011, approximately 9,000 federal employees were working in Louisville, but not all of them will be furloughed if they’re considered essential personnel.

A number of monuments and agencies have already announced their closures, such as the Library of Congress and National Zoo with more expected this week.

In the first day of the shutdown, many lawmakers spent the day trying to avoid taking the political blame.

Speaking on the Senate Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky once again criticized Democrats for killing the fourth measure out of the GOP-controlled House.

"They’ve now said they won’t even agree to sit down and work out our differences. They won’t even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise," he says.

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Politics
9:59 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Mitch McConnell: 'Americans Don't Want a Government Shutdown and They Don't Want Obamacare'

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

Hours away from a government shutdown, the Democratic-controlled Senate once again rejected a House Republican spending plan that seeks to delay the president's health care law.

The party line 54-46 vote continues the back-and-forth between the two chambers with less than three hours before the midnight deadline.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also repeated his statement blaming Senate Democrats as a partial shutdown appeared inevitable.

From McConnell's office:

"Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want Obamacare. But Senate Democrats have once again blocked a House-passed bill to keep the government open while protecting Americans from the consequences of Obamacare.

The fact that the President is unilaterally granting waivers to some Americans but not others shows that even he doesn’t think Obamacare is ready for primetime. There is bipartisan support for providing the same treatment to individuals and families that the White House has already given employers.

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Politics
7:10 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Acknowledging GOP Will Be Blamed, Congressman Thomas Massie Describes Shutdown as 'Not a Big Deal'

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

Rep.Thomas Massie acknowledges Republicans will face the brunt of the blame if the government shuts down at midnight.

But the freshman lawmaker from Kentucky's Fourth District says constituents have told him it is "not a big deal" if certain federal agencies and functions close.

"I’m certain we'll get blamed for it," Massie told WFPL this afternoon. "But that’s also (Senate Democratic Leader) Harry Reid’s motive for running out the clock today. And they’re hoping there is a shutdown for their own political gain."

On Monday afternoon, the Senate once again rejected a House spending bill backed by Republicans, which sought to delay Obamacare by one year and repeal the medical device tax.

This was slightly different measure than an earlier GOP pitch to take out funding for the Affordable Care Act altogether.

Democrats have made it clear any efforts to undermine the health care law are a non-starter, however.

Polling figures show 46 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans if a shutdown takes place. The same survey finds 36 percent believe the Democrats and president would be responsible.

The political backlash isn't lost on a group of moderate House Republicans who are reportedly planning a revolt against GOP leadership and more conservative members.

Massie is part of a group in the House members who spoke with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who strategized to oppose House Speaker John Boehner's plan. Asked about the impact on Kentucky, he told WFPL a partial shutdown will have limited real world effects.

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Politics
12:36 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Says Mitch McConnell is 'Missing in Action' on Shutdown Negotiations

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Calling the looming government shutdown a "reckless Republican" strategy, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is accusing incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of watching from the sidelines.

The budget impasse in Washington is expected to continue when the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects a House measure this afternoon.

If a deal isn't reached the federal government will close on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.

At issue is implementation of President Obama's health care law, which Republican want to delay for one year. But that is considered a non-starter in the Senate and for the Obama administration.

In the meantime, the Grimes campaign is going on the offensive against McConnell by highlighting how a shutdown would impact Kentucky.

The news release points out a shutdown would close centers for 16,000 children who attend Head Start, delay payments for U.S. military service members and furlough 25,000 federal employees in the state.

Grimes says McConnell needs to be more involved in the negotiations while reminding supporters about the GOP leadership's split with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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Politics
7:01 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Taking Myth-Buster Lead Ahead of Obamacare Implementation

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is scheduled to launch its open enrollment for individuals without health insurance beginning on Oct. 1.

And Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth is taking the lead on debunking what the Democratic lawmaker calls myths and "scare tactics" about its implementation.

In Kentucky, one in six people are uninsured and officials hope as the law unfolds that residents will take advantage of the state-approved insurance plans.

One of the chief changes under the new federal mandate is no one can be denied health care coverage for any reason, including pre-existing conditions.

But three years after it passed, Obamacare remains the source of continued bickering in Washington and the root of a possible government shutdown.

"A lot of this is partisan and anti-Obama sentiment because we know that people support the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act by substantial margins," says Yarmuth, who voted for the law in 2010.

A recent poll conducted by CNBC bears out what the congressman is saying. The survey found 46 percent of Americans oppose the law when it carries the president’s name. But just 37 percent said they oppose the law when it is called the Affordable Care Act.

In states like Kentucky—where Obama is immensely unpopular—that has resulted in considerable confusion about the law as state officials are encouraging people to sign-up.

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