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Frankfort Local News

House Passes Bill to Address Unemployment Loan Interest Payments

A bill designed to help pay federal interest payments is one step closer to becoming law.

The measure passed the House unanimously today, although a few Republicans expressed concerns over the bill.

The bill would let the state borrow money to help make federal interest payments on a loan Kentucky took out during the recession. The state borrowed more than $900 billion to help pay for unemployment insurance, but didn’t account for interest payments.

If the state is late on payments, the federal government can put a higher tax on employers to recoup the funds. Representative Larry Clark, the bill’s sponsor, says the proposal would shield those businesses.

“Well I’ll tell you what this is. If you do not vote on this legislation, we will have a $600 million increase for unemployment insurance on each employer large and small,” Clark says.

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Frankfort Local News

Franklin Circuit Judge Finds Redistricting Maps Unconstitutional

A Franklin Circuit Court judge has thrown out new legislative district maps, saying they violate the basic principles of the Kentucky Constitution.

Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling is based on the so-called “five percent rule.” It says new districts must be within five percent of their ideal size. Shepherd added that the maps of both the House and Senate districts divided too many counties.

Shepherd also extended the deadline for candidates to file to run for the General Assembly until Friday. Unless the ruling is overturned or new districts are drafted, candidates will run in the current districts.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover was one of the main parties challenging the maps. He says he’s happy with Shepherd’s ruling.

“Well we’re obviously very pleased with the judge’s decision,” Hoover said. “He agreed with the argument that we’ve made now from day one, that the House plan divided two many counties and it was above the population variance and he agreed with that. He found it was a violation of Section 33 of the Constitution, that’s the argument that we’ve made from day one.”

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Frankfort Local News

Judge Delays Legislative Filing Deadline

A Franklin Circuit Court judge has pushed back the filing deadline for state legislative candidates.

In response to a lawsuit claiming the new redistricting maps are unconstitutional, Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a restraining order moving the deadline back one week. Shepherd also set a hearing on the constitutionality argument for Monday morning.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says Shepherd’s order allows candidates to continue to file for new districts while the court works out the legal arguments. But the ruling creates an interesting mix when it comes to filing deadline for various offices.

“Those that seek to file for House and Senate up until 4:30 p.m. on February 7th,”Grimes says. “The filing deadline as it relates to Congressional races, pursurant to passage of House Bill 2 yesterday, which was signed by the governor, remains Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. And today, the filing deadline as it relates to all other offices remains the same.”

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover—a plaintiff in the case—praised the order, saying he thinks the judge has major questions on the new maps.

Democrat House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who defends the map, declined to comment.

 

 

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Frankfort Local News

Republicans Follow Through With Lawsuit Over House Redistricting Map

Several Kentucky House Republican shave followed through on their threats to file a legal challenge to new legislative district lines.

The Republicans filed the lawsuit and request for an injunction in Franklin County Circuit Court today. And because of the injunction request, they will go before Judge Phillip Sheppard on Monday morning.

“We have been saying for a couple of weeks now that not only was it unfair to the people of Kentucky,” says House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover. “Not only did it disenfranchise a lot of folks in Kentucky, but it was unconstitutional and that is the basis of the lawsuit. It violates section 33 of the constitution.”

The suit also includes Republican state Representatives Kim King and Joe Fischer.  It was filed against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief elections officer, because the lawmakers hope to delay elections for the new districts.

And Fischer, who has filed three previous lawsuits against redistricting in decades past, says this case is the strongest he’s ever had.

“So we’ve got division of fewest counties, one person one vote and the contiguous argument that we didn’t have in my lawsuit [in the 1990s],” Fischer said. “So I look for this to be a very strong argument to the court.”

It is unclear whether Senate Democrats will join the lawsuit. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has defended the House map as constitutional.

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Frankfort Local News

Hoover Says Republicans Will File Lawsuit to Stop New Legislative Districts

Several Kentucky House Republicans are hoping to derail new legislative districts with a lawsuit challenging the redistricting map.

Members of the GOP caucus and a group of private individuals could file the suit as soon as the end of this week. It will start in Franklin County Circuit Court and will include a motion to stop the redistricting maps from taking immediate effect.

“We are challenging what we strongly believe is the unconstitutionality of the plan,” says House GOP leader Jeff Hoover. “We’re also will be asking for an injunction to stop the enforcement or carrying out of the new legislative districts and asking for a postponement of the filing deadline.”

Hoover says his group will only be challenging the House redistricting map passed in House Bill 1. But that bill includes a non-severance clause, meaning if one map is thrown out then the judicial and Senate maps go with it.

The filing deadline for legislative and judicial candidates is Jan. 31.

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Frankfort Local News

Partisanship Likely to Grow After House Redistricting Fights

Last week’s redistricting battles may increase the partisanship in the Kentucky General Assembly. That’s what the Republican House Leader Jeff Hoover told his peers on the House floor after that chamber passed new district lines unfavorable to Republicans.

Issues such as the budget and making the University of Pikeville a public institution are still on the table for lawmakers, but Hoover says when a House Democrat asked him about the UPIKE issue, he wanted to laugh it off.

“And when that person asked me that yesterday in the midst of all this redistricting, where it’s not blatantly unfair, where there is no malice I wanted to say are you serious?” Hoover said on the House floor. “Are you serious Mr. Speaker? You think that we can sit down now and talk about the University of Pikeville proposal?”

Hoover added that partisanship will be high over other proposals, such as pension reform and drug abuse issues, because of the nasty redistricting fights.

“I’m worried about what this is doing to this institution moving forward,” Hoover said. “It’s not about us as individuals. We will come and go and I’m worried about the lingering effects to this institution. That’s why I’m most disappointed in this process and what has happened.”

Democrats are in firm control of the House. But they often need Republican votes when issues split the Democratic caucus.

Having those extra votes are in firm doubt now, Hoover said.

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Frankfort Local News

House Passes New Districts, While Hoover Leaves Open Possibility of Court Challenge

After two hours of heated debate, the Kentucky House of Representatives has approved new district lines. House Bill 1 passed 63-34 with only two representatives not voting.

Many Republicans took to the floor to argue against the plan, calling it ugly politics. There are nine Republican members who will have to run against one another under the new redistricting map, and nearly all of them took to the floor to argue against the bill.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, maintained there aren’t any malicious ideas behind the new plan.

“Nothing that’s contained in this bill is done with any intent or malice,” Stumbo said on the floor. “Nothing in this bill is done to be blatantly unfair to any person. Nothing in this bill is done to do anything other than what we’re charged with doing and that is to redistrict every ten years and stay within the confines of the law.”

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Frankfort Local News

State House Approves Congressional Redistricting Map

The Kentucky House has approved a plan that would drastically alter the state’s current congressional districts.

The plan passed 54-42, almost entirely along party lines. Only two Democrats—state Representative Ben Nelson and former House Speaker Jody Richards—voted against the new map. (Click here to see the plan.)

The proposal would cut out the eastern edge of the 4th Congressional District and extend it south to Nelson County, even picking up some of Jefferson County in the process. The 6th District is pulled in multiple directions across Central Kentucky. And the 2nd District shoots north into Central and Eastern Kentucky.

The plan does have bright spots for critics. The 1st and 5th Districts become more compact and geographically efficient. And the plan moves Owensboro to the 1st District and Ashland to the 5th District.

But House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says the bill is pure politics, with the Democratic-controlled House making life much easier for Democratic congressmen.

And Democrats in the chamber disagreed with that notion, giving a loud “No!” in response.

“This is simply a bill in an effort to have some negotiating power,” said Hoover before the vote. “So that down the road the Congressman from the Third District can be protected even more and the Congressman from the Sixth District can minimize his opposition. All of us recognize that.”

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Stumbo, Hoover Assess Primary Results

The top two leaders of the Kentucky House are assessing the outcome of Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Minority Floor Leader Jeffrey Hoover have been studying the counties captured by Senate President David Williams, who grabbed the Republican nomination.

Stumbo believes the map benefits Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who’s seeking a second term. Beshear had no primary opposition.

“In the urban areas, because of the media coverage, I think President Williams has a challenge there – probably more so than the rural areas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out,” Stumbo said.

But Hoover doesn’t believe there’s necessarily an urban/rural split. What concerns him most is voter turnout. He says Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, must get more voters to the polls in November.

“I think if they work on the turnout, they can prevail in the fall,” Hoover said.

Turnout for the primary was just over 10 percent. The worst primary turnout on record in Kentucky was 6.4% in 1999. That year, Democratic Gov. Paul Patton went on to win re-election over a weak Republican nominee.

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Local News

Hoover To Emcee Fancy Farm Speeches

The 130th Fancy Farm picnic is Saturday in rural Graves County, in far western Kentucky. 

For the locals, Fancy Farm is a harvest festival, homecoming and church social, but for visitors, the barbeque and political speaking are the big draws.  This year’s master of ceremonies for the speechifying is House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, who says he’s had plenty of practice.                 

“From beauty pageants, to political speakings, to country music performances.  So, yeah, I’ve done a lot of emceeing.  I’ve never done anything like this at Fancy Farm, of course.  It is one of the great traditions in Kentucky politics and I’m just honored to be a part of it and looking forward to it,” he said.

All eyes this year will be on the U.S. Senate race pitting Bowling Green physician Rand Paul, the Republican nominee, against Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee.