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Yarmuth Disses Christie Ahead of Kentucky Visit

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth is criticizing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a “yes man” for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney before his visit to Kentucky.

Christie is backing Romney in the fall election over President Barack Obama. He will be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Kentucky’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on May 19.

Yarmuth says Christie shouldn’t bother visiting the state because voters will reject Romney’s economic policies.

From Yarmuth:

“As CEO of Bain, Mitt Romney and his partners’ first priority was personal profit, regardless of the cost to others – even when that meant shipping jobs overseas and laying off U.S. workers.

We don’t want Romney or his yes men anywhere near our businesses in Kentucky. Federal investments advanced by the Obama Administration have revitalized manufacturing and helped Ford and GE hire thousands of Kentucky workers. Romney’s economic policies wouldn’t build on that momentum – they would abandon it.

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Romney Coming to Louisville for Fundraiser

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Louisville on Thursday at a fundraiser hosted at the home of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, several GOP volunteers and officials have confirmed.

Invitations asking for various donation levels were sent out earlier this week. This will be the former Massachusetts governor’s second visit to the commonwealth and first to the city.

Romney visited Kentucky in November for a fundraiser in Lexington.

“We are honored to again host Gov. Romney in Kentucky to raise funds to defeat President Obama in November. The event is picking up RSVP’s by the minute and Gov. Romney’s team in Kentucky is doing its part to build a winning campaign for a great candidate,” says Kelly Knight, who heads Romney’s Kentucky Finance committee. “Our nation can’t afford another four years of the failed Obama agenda, and Mitt Romney is offering a fresh direction to turn around our economy and restore opportunities for every American.”

In Kentucky, Romney, who is the presumptive GOP nominee for president, has raised over $412,000 thus far compared to $567,000 in contributions garnered by President Obama.

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Deadline for Independent Candidates Approaching

The Kentucky Secretary of State’s office is reminding those seeking to run for partisan offices as independents that they must file paperwork by next Monday.

Individuals must file statement-of-candidacy forms on April 2 in order to be on the ballot for the fall election.

Secretary of state spokeswoman Lynn Sowards Zellen says there is no fee to file this round of paperwork, and it’s hard to tell at this time if independents are flocking to run this year.

“We have had certainly some people call interested in obtaining the statement-of-candidacy form, but the form is also available online so we can’t really predict how many people will have filed through this method,” she says.

Independents also have to file petitions of nomination in August. The petitions carry a $200 filing fee. Candidates for federal offices, nonpartisan offices, and certain city offices are exempt from the requirement.

Zellen says independent candidates and groups should contact the secretary of state’s office or their local county clerk for the proper paperwork.

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McConnell Tells Constituent Marijuana Kills

In a February 14 letter to a constituent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told a fellow Kentuckian he opposes legalizing marijuana because it can lead to death.

From Huffington Post:

McConnell then cites a medical marijuana bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and raises concerns about what could happen if it became law—death.

“Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation. The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death,” McConnell wrote.

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said McConnell was just making the case that drugs in general have detrimental effects.

As cannabis aficionados have noted, state lawmakers modernized Kentucky’s drug laws last year and reduced penalties for low-risk, non-violent drug offenders who possessed small amounts of the drug.

Earlier this year, former Finance and Administration Secretary Jonathan Miller wrote an editorial supporting the legalization of marijuana that argued deaths from the drug are “extraordinarily rare.”

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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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Ron Paul: No Federal Relief for Tornado Victims

Standing by his libertarian principles, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul reiterated his opposition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency when he said victims of the deadly tornadoes that hit Kentucky should not receive federal aid.

Last week, a series of storms across the South and Midwest caused injury, property damage and killed dozens, including small towns in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

The Texas congressman said the role of the federal government is to restore order and provide shelter through the National Guard, but that people affected by the storms should buy insurance instead.

“The people who live in tornado alley, just as I live in hurricane alley, they should have insurance,” he said.

Rather than federal funds, Paul argues there is plenty of generous and compassionate Americans who are willing to give after a disaster hits.

Ironically, Congressman Paul’s son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has also been a libertarian voice in Congress, wrote a letter to President Obama on Monday morning urging him to support a request for a major disaster declaration for Kentucky that would result in federal funds being released.

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Romney Energy Policy Would Heavily Back Coal Industry

In an editorial published in the Columbus Dispatch on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined his energy policy that includes a resounding endorsement of the coal industry.

Last year, if you recall, the former Massachusetts governor first visited Kentucky for a fundraiser hosted by coal company owner Joe Craft, an influential political player who is known as the “face of coal” in the commonwealth. Romney also named Craft one of his campaign’s Kentucky State Finance Chairs.

Romney says he will modernize the federal government’s “outdated” environmental laws and stop what he calls Environmental Protection Agency’s practice of “imaginary benefits to justify onerous burdens.”

“In my administration, coal will not be a four-letter word. Instead, we will applaud the industry’s success in consistently expanding electricity output while reducing pollution,” he says. “And I will respect states’ proven ability to regulate fracking, rather than sending federal bureaucrats to take control.”

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Legislative Candidates Frustrated With Limbo Status

Several candidates for state legislative office are decrying the partisanship in Frankfort that has put their bids in limbo.

The General Assembly approved new district maps last month, but the plans faced legal challenges and were thrown out last week by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherds’ ruling. That’s caused candidates who are running in the new districts to either drop out, be disqualified or decide to wait for the appeals process to finish before mounting campaigns.

Democrat Steve Bittenbender can run in the 37th District for the state Senate under either map proposal. But he says the uncertainty of representation is too much for candidates and voters.

“I believe that it is in the best interests of the state and it’s in the best interest of the voters to let a neutral third party redraw these districts. If you take a look at these new districts, there was politics done on all sides,” he says.

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Yarmuth Applauds Kentucky Waiver From No Child Left Behind

Praising the decision, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., joined President Obama at the White House Thursday afternoon for the announcement that Kentucky has been granted a waiver from No Child Left Behind standards and can move ahead with its own education reforms.

The bipartisan bill was the flagship in education reform for former President George W. Bush, but the policy has been roundly criticized as cumbersome for having unreachable goals. Last year, Kentucky applied for the waiver and was one of 10 states that were granted one from the Obama administration.

Yarmuth says the decision clears the way for the state to continue its own reforms to improve accountability and close student achievement gaps.

“Our state has developed innovative reforms to chart students’ success. We know that education is not one-size-fits-all, and I’m glad the president is recognizing the commonwealth’s leadership in implementing core curriculum standards that better prepare our students for college and their careers,” he says.

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Stein Considering Options to Retain District Seat

In light of a controversial redistricting plan, State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, is weighing several options after being drawn out of her district.

The Democratic-controlled House approved new legislative maps Thursday, which originated in the Republican-controlled Senate and moves Stein’s downtown Lexington district to northeastern Kentucky, leaving her without a seat for two years.

The bill now goes to Governor Steve Beshear, who is being pressured by Stein’s supporters to veto the legislation. The governor is expected to sign the legislation, but his office is releasing a statement on the redistricting bill later today.

Stein says she will not move to seek re-election, but is mulling different courses of action, including a lawsuit or running for her old House seat.

“It hadn’t quite been 24 hours and there are a lot of options, some of them are still occurring to me and I’m hearing from friends. And I’m going to have to sit down and discuss the many options. I’m concerned that the people in downtown Lexington will not have a person there who knows the district as I do,” she says.