Will Steve Beshear Have The Guts To Stand Up?

Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s surprise endorsement of gay marriage pushed the issue even further to the forefront of the national political conversation. But at the largest annual gathering of conservative activists this week, top speakers have been mostly mum about it. [Politico]

People who live near mountaintop removal mining sites in Floyd County have significantly higher cancer death rates and suffer a higher incidence of other diseases than residents in other Kentucky Appalachian counties where mountaintop removal doesn’t occur. [Ronnie Ellis]

Again, Matt Bevin is not a credible challenger to Mitch McConnell. This is merely the latest hilarity. [The Hill]

With only two days left in the 2013 General Assembly session, Kentucky lawmakers remain divided on how to address the state’s most pressing problem — the multibillion-dollar shortage in state pension funds. [C-J/AKN]

The US state of Maryland is poised to abolish the death penalty after its lawmakers voted 82 to 56 in favour of the move. The measure now needs to be signed by Governor Martin O’Malley to become law. [BBC]

Floyd County Sheriff John K. Blackburn was being held in the Powell County jail Monday on a DUI charge, officials said. Powell Deputy Jailer Scott Wells confirmed that Blackburn was in the jail. [H-L]

For Airman First Class Stephen Sinatra, the budget cuts prompted by deadlock in Washington have turned his plans upside down. [Reuters]

A central Kentucky judge has ruled that two counties may place 911 funding fees on water meters issued in those counties. [WKYT]

Alyssa Corcoran experienced combat on her first patrol in Afghanistan. After she walked seven miles through the hills with 70 pounds of gear on her back, Corcoran and her platoon arrived in a mud-brick village in Logar province. [NPR]

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission decided Monday to charge former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer on 42 instances of breaching the public’s trust stemming from his personnel actions and use of state resources. Poor Reeeechie. We all know he’ll never end up paying $210,000 in fines. [CN|2]

On Friday we were all fascinated by the tale of a Tea Party-sponsored minority outreach panel at CPAC gone horribly wrong. The head of a group we had never heard of, the Frederick Douglass Republicans, led the panel and had a very nice discussion with a young man who is in no way racist just because he praised segregation and asked why Frederick Douglass could not have been more grateful that his former masters had given him food and shelter. [Wonkette]

The mayor and city commissioners of Covington, Kentucky are asking Governor Steve Beshear to block the so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill, renewing pressure for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to join the opposition. [WFPL]

In some states, gun rights trump orders of protection. Early last year, after a series of frightening encounters with her former husband, Stephanie Holten went to court in Spokane, Wash., to obtain a temporary order for protection. [NY Times]