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Kentucky Federal Delegation Supports Disaster Declaration

Following Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators, the six members of the state’s House delegation sent a letter to President Barack Obama supporting Gov. Steve Beshear’s request for a federal disaster declaration.

An outbreak of storms and tornadoes last week caused damage to several Kentucky towns and Beshear has asked the president to provide the state with federal relief. Thus far, 21 residents have died and 48 counties have suffered extensive damage to public and private property.

Congressmen Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, John Yarmuth, Geoff Davis, Harold Rogers and Ben Chandler said the severe weather caused damage that the state cannot pay for alone.

“As the Governor conveyed in his letter, the severity and scope of the damage caused by these storms is beyond the capabilities of the Commonwealth and the local governments that have been affected,” the delegation writes. “Immediate consideration of the Governor’s disaster declaration request on your part would aid Kentucky communities so severely affected by this most recent disaster.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Rogers, Whitfield Endorse Romney for President

Kentucky Congressmen Hal Rogers and Ed Whitefield endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Monday, giving the former Massachusetts governor two more GOP lawmakers in his bid for the Republican nomination.

Whitfield represents the 1s District while Rogers represents the 6th District and chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Their nods of approval give Romney 31 endorsements from GOP elected members of Congress, which is a sign that he remains the establishment candidate.

From Politico:

Rogers says he’s impressed by the comprehensiveness of Romney’s economic plan, and the depth of his private sector experience. Whitfield plans to praise two elements of Romney’s Massachusetts record: balancing the budget with no tax increases and leaving the state with a Rainy Day Fund.

“They share my goals of lessening the regulatory burden on small business and getting our exploding deficits under control. They also share my goal of making our country energy independent,” Romney says in a statement.

Before Rogers and Whitfield, the only member of the state’s federal delegation to endorse a presidential candidate was U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is supporting his father, Congressman Ron Paul, R-Tx., in the GOP primary.

The two congressmen also backed Romney for president in 2008.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Kentucky House Delegation Supports Bourbon Bill

The entire Kentucky delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives supports a bill to change the federal tax code to benefit the commonwealth’s bourbon industry.

Lawmakers contend there is inequality in the Internal Revenue Service because bourbon is aged and must be carried in storage for extended periods compared to other distilled spirits. Introduced by Congressmen Geoff Davis and Ben Chandler earlier this year, the Aged Distilled Spirits Competitiveness Act of 2011 seeks to exempt the natural aging process in the production for distilled spirits. It would allow distillers to deduct the interest expense to pay for their inventory as those costs are incurred.

“Bourbon is a signature Kentucky product throughout the nation and around the world.  The bourbon industry supports thousands of Kentucky jobs and this bill is an important step in leveling the playing field in the growing distilled spirits industry,” Davis said in a statement.

It is estimated the industry is responsible for 10,000 jobs in the state and ships $1.5 billion in bourbon each year.

The bill is co-sponsored by fellow Kentucky Congress members Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, John Yarmuth and Hal Rogers, and was recently assigned to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

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Congressman Whitfield Reacts to Obama Speech

Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield says he’s hearing two different stories from democratic leaders on their intended health care overhaul. The western Kentucky representative says the President’s remarks to a joint session of Congress last night don’t line up with bills that have already been drawn up in various congressional committees.

“So we have the President, who is very amicable, very friendly fella, a great speech maker, saying one thing,” says Whitfield, “and then the people who are running the House of Representatives for his party, are something totally different, and that’s why all of this is rather puzzling.”

Whitfield says the future of the health care debate is in the hands of the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, a group of moderate Democrats concerned about federal spending.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville came out strongly in favor of the President’s speech.