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Frankfort Local News

Andy Barr Files for Sixth Congressional District, Wanting a Rematch Against Ben Chandler

A campaign rematch in the Sixth Congressional District is almost official.

Republican Andy Barr filed his paperwork today for a shot at a rematch against Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler. Chandler also filed his paperwork Friday.

But Barr will still have to beat one unknown Republican challenger before facing Chandler in the general election. In 2010, Chandler beat Barr by 647 votes.

Barr, who was outspent by more than a million dollars during that race, says money won’t be an issue this year.

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Environment Local News

House Passes Bill to Let States Regulate Coal Ash

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. The bill gives control of coal ash disposal to the states, which are required to regulate it as least as stringently as municipal waste.

Environmental groups opposed the bill, arguing the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate coal ash. The EPA has proposed two rules to control the substance, but if the House bill becomes law, it will be prohibited from instituting either rule.

The bill passed 267 to 144. Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth voted against the bill, while Democrat Ben Chandler and Republicans Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Geoff Davis supported it.

The bill’s chances in the Senate are unknown. Many Republicans are expected to vote in favor of it, but some coalfields Democrats have also expressed support.

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Politics

Chandler Blames Federal Deficit on Bush-Era Tax Cuts

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

Congressman Ben Chandler says one of the main causes of today’s historic trillion dollar federal budget deficit is the tax cuts that were approved during the Bush Administration. The Versailles Democrat made the comment during an interview on KET’s One to One program.

Chandler says tax policy under President Clinton produced a budget surplus but the lower rates championed by President Bush mostly benefited the rich.

“These were the largest tax cuts that we’ve had, maybe ever, but certainly in a very long time,” he said. “And they are a tremendous cause of the deficits that we’re looking at right now. And most of those tax cuts went to the very wealthiest people in this country.”

Chandler says wealthy people today have more money as a percentage of the economy than they’ve ever had in the history of the U.S.

“It’s kept us from having the ability to properly fund things like Medicare and Social Security,” he said. “So now people want to come along and say, ‘surprisingly, we don’t have the money to fund Medicare and Social Security.’ Well, of course we don’t. We’ve given all these big tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country.

Chandler says he doesn’t like to hear programs like Social Security and Medicare referred to as “entitlements”. He says most recipients paid into those programs all their lives and earned the benefits.

Republicans argue that raising taxes on the wealthy will discourage investment in new economic development projects.

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Local News Politics

Chandler Was Shown bin Laden Photos, Favors Releasing Them

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler was given the opportunity to view death photos of Osama Bin Laden this morning.

The Versailles Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee says they are images he won’t soon forget.

“There’s an enormous wound or gash from his left eye all the way across his forehead which is about an inch wide. It’s a massive wound that you can see that nobody could have survived it,” says Chandler.

Chandler says he understands why President Obama wanted them restricted, but he favors releasing them to the public.

“I think that a lot of the victims of 9/11 really want to have closure.  Quite frankly, you see things like that on network TV on some of the police and detective shows when somebody gets killed,” he says.

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Local News Politics

Crossroads Ads to Target Chandler

Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler is among a dozen Democrats being targeted in a series of radio ads from the conservative-aligned Crossroads GPS organization. The ads criticize the representatives for voting against a Republican-backed bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, largely through major spending cuts. The spots also praise Republicans for supporting the legislation.

The Washington Post has more on what the ads say about the next year for Chandler.

The ads, which provide an early window into both parties’ most vulnerable members heading into 2012, are the second major buy Crossroads has laid down this year.

The early spending suggests that Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads plan on continuing their active presence in House and Senate elections — not to mention the presidential race — in 2012.

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Local News Politics

Sixth District Tally Confirmed

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson is now in possession of vote totals in the 6th District U.S. House race, as certified by local county clerks, but the numbers still must go before the State Board of Elections.

The certified vote count shows Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler garnering 119,812 votes on Election Day. Republican challenger Andy Barr collected 119,163. So, out of more than 239,000 votes cast in the 16-county central Kentucky district, the candidates are separated by 649 votes.

Chandler declared victory Tuesday night, but Barr has refused to concede. Barr wants a recanvass, or recheck of the vote totals, and that will commence next Friday. During the recanvass, which is free, county clerks will verify vote totals on every voting machine used in the district.

Next Friday is also the deadline for Barr to request a recount, which is a lengthy and expensive process that would have to be funded by the Barr campaign.

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Local News Politics

Recanvass To Be Conducted In 6th Congressional District

Vote totals in Kentucky’s 6th District U.S. House race will be rechecked for accuracy next week. The recanvass is being sought by the man who appears to have lost his first bid for public office.

Tuesday night, Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler declared victory over Republican challenger Andy Barr, but because the race was so close, Barr refused to concede. Only 644 votes separate the men. Now, Barr wants a recanvass, or second check, of all votes cast in the 16-county district. Les Fugate of the Secretary of State’s office says the recanvass will be conducted on Friday, November 12th.

“You take the cartridges from the voting machine. Take them back to that central tabulation system. Put the cartridge in that system and it aggregates the totals for the entire county,” he says.

The 12th is also the deadline for Barr to seek a recount of all votes. That’s a much more involved process that could last months and cost Barr’s campaign thousands of dollars.

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Blog Archive Environment Environment Blog

Green in the Spotlight on Capitol Hill This Week

The U.S. House of Representatives is shining its legislative spotlight on the environment this week. House Democrats have been hashing out the details of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.). The bill is the first climate change legislation to get environmentalists pretty excited.  Although it is slated for markup in committee on Monday, May 18, it has a long way to go before it hits the President’s desk. Still, the bill’s supporters – environmental and political, alike – are hopeful.

One of the more contentious provisions worked out this week has to do with what role utilities will play in reducing emissions and boosting energy efficiency. From the committee’s website: “The agreement provides for a combined 20 percent renewable energy and energy efficiency standard by 2020. By 2020, utilities would be required to obtain 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources and demonstrate annual electricity savings of five percent from energy efficiency measures.”

On a related note, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to hold a public hearing at its conference center in Arlington, Va., on the same day about its recent finding that carbon dioxide, as a global warming contributor, is a threat to human health and should be regulated just like other pollutants. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA, under the Bush administration, to do just that, but critics said the agency dragged its feet – until now.

Also this week, Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) got some traction on a bill he sponsored, called the “21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act.” It’s designed to provide funding to help schools renovate and modernize facilities to be greener and healthier for students. Chandler says he believes the funding, if approved, would be a nice complement for a program already up and running in Kentucky – the Green and Healthy Schools program. It encourages students, teachers and staff to identify ways to reduce schools’ environmental impacts.

All of this activity could mean significant steps toward addressing global warming, but especially the Waxman-Markey bill. For now, analysts believe it stands a good chance. But we’ll have to see what happens in the Senate.