Adam Pushes For Testing Rape Kits

As I watched the roll-out of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination last week, I thought I was about to see him announce that he was changing his party affiliation. [H-L]

The Islamic State group launched an offensive in Iraq’s western Anbar province on Wednesday, capturing three villages near the provincial capital of Ramadi where fierce clashes were underway between the extremists and government troops, residents said. [HuffPo]

The News Journal of Corbin reported Monday on an update by the Keeneland Association regarding the plans of the Lexington thoroughbred racing and auction company to build a quarter horse track near Interstate 75 that would have the slot-like historical horse racing. The story was full of interesting political bedfellows in what Keeneland apparently has decided will be called Thunder Gap. [C-J/AKN]

A major Appalachian coal mining company is laying off hundreds of workers in West Virginia and blaming the lost jobs on President Obama’s environmental policies. [The Hill]

Check out the photos of that gigantic boulder. It’s worth the click. [Ashland Independent]

Protesters in several U.S. cities blocked highways and swarmed police precincts, leading to at least two dozen arrests in demonstrations touched off by fresh cases of police violence against unarmed black men. [Reuters]

Adam Edelen on Wednesday launched a major initiative to count the number of untested sexual assault kits across the Commonwealth, as well as make recommendations for reforming how evidence in cases of sexual violence is handled in the future. [Press Release]

A federal judge got it wrong last week when he claimed President Barack Obama indicated that the changes he ordered to immigration policy late last year left immigration officials without discretion about how to handle specific cases, the Justice Department argued in a federal appeals court filing Tuesday. [Politico]

While casual statistics have been used to cast RTW in different lights, rigorous studies that examine RTW’s effect on states’ economies find no link between RTW and jobs. [External PDF Link]

US President Barack Obama offers Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi $200m in humanitarian aid on his first official visit to Washington. [BBC]

The Franklin County Sheriff is looking for anybody who may have purchased a barrel of high-priced, stolen bourbon. [WLEX18]

It was a day of demonstrations in cities across the nation on Tuesday. The turnout and tone of the protests, organized with the Black Lives Matter movement, were varied. [NPR]

Heads-up, again, to Montgomery County Schools. Western Kentucky suspended its swimming and diving programs for five years on Tuesday after the school and Bowling Green police found violations of Title IX sexual misconduct and assault, harassment and the student conduct code. [H-L]

Opponents of legalizing marijuana can’t be happy about several new polls released Tuesday. Majority support for making cannabis legal is holding steady, while young adults are legalization’s biggest fans. And that’s true both nationally and in several swing states. [HuffPo]

Lexington’s Already Crazy Expensive

It was late, and Bob Stephens needed a drink. The former chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court was wrestling with an opinion in a school funding lawsuit. [H-L]

Heads-up to Montgomery County Schools shysters. A judge disregarded prosecutors’ recommendations and sentenced three Atlanta educators to 20 years, seven of them to be served in prison. The state sought five year sentences, with three served in prison, but Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter threw out those recommendations in favor of the much stiffer penalties. [HuffPo]

If the University of Kentucky is to remain competitive in recruiting athletes, it may need the merchants of Lexington to raise their prices. [C-J/AKN]

Oh, look, Rand Paul’s stepford wife said a thing. She’s really mad that the media hold her tealusional husband accountable for his behavior. [Today]

As the deadline for compliance with the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection draws near, so does completion of remediation efforts at Big Run Landfill, according to company officials. [Ashland Independent]

What, you thought merely the handful of wingnut extremists in the presidential race was enough? [The Hill]

Conway says his record as Attorney General proves his resolve on matters of importance to Floyd County voters, including his work to curb the prescription pill addiction epidemic and his efforts in combating the EPA for their overreaching regulations on the coal industry. [Floyd County Times]

The municipal bankruptcies in Detroit and Stockton, California, may foretell more widespread problems in the United States than is implied by current bond ratings, a top Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday. [Reuters]

The local planning committee tasked with detailing the Barren County Schools district facilities needs discussed Monday at the Barren County Area Technology Center how they will continue the facilities plan process in the coming months. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Republicans in Congress are advancing a bill to grant asylum to families who want to home school their children. [ThinkProgress]

A mega company’s bid to change the product and flow direction of an existing natural gas pipeline is drawing the attention and concern of citizens and environmental groups across Kentucky. [The Morehead News]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is visiting Washington Tuesday at a crucial moment in the war against the Islamic State. [Politico]

On election day in Magoffin County, Jerry Adams said his second cousin drove him to the local Save-a-Lot and gave him $25 to vote for Michael “Doc” Hardin for county judge executive – a key office that controls a lot of jobs in this economically depressed area. Note: Jim Deckard resurfaces. [H-L]

A former Blackwater security guard was sentenced to life in prison and three others got 30-year terms on Monday in the massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, closing a case that had outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiment around the world. [HuffPo]

Old White Kentuckians Freaking Out About The Pending Gay Takeover & Redecoration

A sports thing apparently happened and a lot of people are upset. [H-L]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz are among 57 Republicans in Congress who are calling on the Supreme Court to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage. [HuffPo]

Paul — who is expected to announce his bid Tuesday at Louisville’s Galt House — cut his political teeth on the theme of reducing the size of government and slashing spending. [C-J/AKN]

PEE ALERT! PEE ALERT! Social conservatives are doubling down on their push for state-based religious freedom laws, lashing out at businesses that have vigorously opposed the measures and accusing Democrats of trampling Christians’ civil rights. [Politico]

Let’s watch the Bowling Green Daily Fat White Guys freak out about equality: Obama also supports same-sex marriage, as does Conway, who said in his announcement of not appealing the ruling that denying same-sex marriage is discriminatory. [BGBS]

Gay rights advocates are hoping to parlay the momentum from their legislative victories in Indiana and Arkansas in the past week into further expanding legal protections for gays and lesbians in those states and others. [WaPo]

Adam Edelen tried to hide part two of a massive state audit on Friday. Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen has released the second part of the annual statewide audit of the Commonwealth of Kentucky for fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The audit contains one material weakness and 19 significant deficiencies and notes more than $2 million in questioned costs. [External PDF Link]

A fringe right-wing radio host who believes the government was behind 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and several other catastrophes, has been a key figure in the political rise of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who will reportedly announce a run for president on April 7. [MMFA]

Local union workers voted on Friday to end a two-month-old strike and return to work at the Catlettsburg Refinery. [Ashland Independent]

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., now positioning himself as progressive populist among potential 2016 presidential candidates, told USA Today that he differs from Hillary Clinton because he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement he said will “hollow out our middle class and middle class wages.” But just two years ago, there was no criticism to be heard when O’Malley discussed the TPP. [The Intercept]

Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale appointed Jeremy Runyon as county road supervisor Tuesday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

President Obama launched a program Friday to train outgoing military personnel and veterans to work in the solar power sector. [The Hill]

More than two years after Kentucky education department officials took over the daily management of Breathitt County schools, they are offering the locally elected school board the chance to recommend candidates for a new superintendent. [H-L]

The Obama administration on Friday finalized its recommendation to expand protected areas of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, calling on Congress to block about 12 million acres (5 million hectares) from oil and gas drilling. [HuffPo]

It’s All About Floridian Ed Whitfield, Of Course

For the first time in the history of this tobacco state, the House voted on — and passed — a bill to ban indoor smoking statewide in workplaces and other public spaces, such as bars and restaurants. And then the Senate assigned House Bill 145 to its Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection, where it saw no further action. [H-L]

There is significant evidence that cop cams cut down on most civilian complaints. But a close examination of violent encounters with the police caught on tape suggests that even with seemingly incontrovertible video evidence, questions will often linger. The kind of sea change that police reform activists desire will still likely escape them. [HuffPo]

Told ya the big money was running away from Jamie Comer. A new political action committee with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers has formed in Kentucky with plans to get involved in Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary on behalf of Hal Heiner. [C-J/AKN]

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has opened an investigation into Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) regarding allegations that he improperly used his office to help his wife lobby Congress on behalf of the Humane Society. [The Hill]

Want your mind to be blown by state government? Check out this KEDFA Board Book from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Rather than save a file as a PDF, they printed it out and scanned it. Remember, it’s 2015, not 1992. [External PDF Link]

Remember when Kentucky enacted this legislation in 2013 and no one batted an eyelash? Thousands of people marched in Indiana’s largest city on Saturday to protest a state law that supporters contend promotes religious freedom but detractors see as a covert move to support discrimination against gay people. [Reuters]

Ten awesome Kentucky State Parks for you to visit! [University Press]

Gonna boycott Kentucky, too? Activists are encouraging a boycott of Indiana after the US state enacted a “religious freedom” law which they say discriminates against gay people. [BBC]

Now Paul Chitwood and his merry band of closet case circle jerkers are health experts. Especially when it comes to marijuana, something they’ve obviously all been smoking by the pound. [Mythical Nonsense]

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who has taken over defense of his state’s ban after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to do so, is the sole state defending at the Supreme Court against both marriage and marriage recognition challenges. [BuzzFeed]

Greg Stumbo, Kentucky’s Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, is a former attorney general, the chief prosecutor in Kentucky. [Ronnie Ellis]

Apparently, some kind of big sports thing is happening and everybody is freaking out. [NPR]

Kentucky lawmakers are being criticized by leaders of public employee groups for a last-minute decision to transfer tens of millions of dollar from the public employee health insurance fund to government’s “rainy day” fund. [H-L]

A report released last week holds troubling findings about lasting inequality across the African-American community. [HuffPo]

Lil Randy Has Started A Big RPK Slap Fight

Rand Paul’s push for a caucus to pick the Republican Party of Kentucky’s presidential nominee in March 2016 has left some GOP insiders asking questions about how a caucus would work and who it might hurt. [H-L]

Since taking control of both chambers of Congress in January, Republicans have grappled with newfound pressure to govern. But the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday got back to basics: drumming up conservative outrage with a fresh, flimsy scandal. [HuffPo]

Johnathan Masters, a candidate for lieutenant governor on a Democratic ticket with retired state engineer Geoff Young, is facing charges in Jefferson District Court that he harassed an associate dean at Spalding University. Masters also has a warrant pending for his arrest in Breckinridge County, where he is accused of screaming at a school principal and threatening to harm him during a verbal altercation in December, according to Jefferson District Judge Sean Delahanty. [C-J/AKN]

Only 27,000 veterans have made appointments for private medical care since the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Choice Card program rolled out at the start of November, Secretary Robert “Bob” McDonald said. [WaPo]

Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday that an independent analysis of the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act “shows expansion will more than pay for itself.” [Ronnie Ellis]

A dozen states are considering something that was rarely discussed a few years ago: raising gas taxes. Low prices at the pump have emboldened state officials to think about raising new revenue to repair crumbling roads and bridges. [NPR]

When Eastern Kentucky University played Morehead State in men’s basketball Jan. 31, the mayors of Richmond and Morehead made a bet. [Richmond Register]

The State Department opened the door for Cuba’s small private-sector business community to export goods and services to the United States but excluded rum, cigars, food, machinery and a broad swath of other products from the historic change. [Politico]

The passing rate for Kentuckians taking the GED has improved since the national high school equivalency exam underwent changes in 2014, according to Kentucky Adult Education officials. [WFPL]

Meanwhile, Steve Beshear is spending your tax dollars to prevent this from happening in Kentucky. Officials in 24 Alabama counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday, gay rights advocates said, a day after a U.S. judge ordered one local official to issue licenses to gay couples in accordance with an earlier ruling. [Reuters]

Sandhill cranes have been migrating through Kentucky long before anyone settled in the state. The cranes stopped here for a few short weeks on their way to and from their nesting grounds in the Great Lakes region. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

Rand Paul is adopting an old tactic of Hillary Clinton’s, making a habit of working across the aisle ahead of a presidential election. [The Hill]

The Walgreens at 2290 Nicholasville Road looks like most of the national drugstore chain’s other 8,228 stores, carrying the same 18,000 or so items on its shelves. The nondescript store, however, sits at the crux of a lawsuit that could cost Kentucky school districts “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to Fayette County Property Valuation Administrator David O’Neill. [H-L]

Scientists in the U.K. have examined a tiny metal circular object, and are suggesting it might be a micro-organism deliberately sent by extraterrestrials to create life on Earth. [HuffPo]

Winter Takes Its Toll On The Poorest Kentuckians

PEE ALERT! Steve Beshear appointed Daniel Logsdon, Jr. to the PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION! [PEE ALERT]

Two large public gatherings are planned in the next week by groups trying to create a brighter future for Eastern Kentucky. [H-L]

A private foundation will give out millions of dollars in grants to local jurisdictions that agree to try new ways to safely reduce the number of people in jails. [HuffPo]

Tailgating before college games is a much-loved and long-held tradition for thousands of sports fans who like to mix school spirit with other types of spirits, like fine Kentucky bourbon, or cold beer. But, in many cases, that is against the law. [C-J/AKN]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said third parties including Iraq were conveying information to Damascus about the U.S.-led campaign of air strikes against the Islamic State militant group in Syria. [Reuters]

New officers for the Cave City Tourist and Convention Commission have been elected. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The economy added 257,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts had expected 230,000 jobs to be added. While the unemployment rate ticked up slightly, the labor force also increased by 703,000 people. [Think Progress]

Carter County native Roger Cline, a representative with Smoke Free Kentucky, presented the Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce with a staggering statistic at its monthly meeting — that 85 percent of women exposed to secondhand smoke can develop lung cancer. [Ashland Independent]

Twitter has seen a surge in government requests for user information, according to its latest transparency report. The social media platform has seen a 40% rise in the number of requests from governments around the world since its last report, in July 2014. [BBC]

Madison County government is advertising for a new road department administrator, a human resources director and two firefighters. [Richmond Register]

In the U.S., possessing and selling marijuana is a federal crime, so banks have ignored this emerging market. In Canada, financial institutions are beginning to back corporate cannabis producers. [NPR]

The extreme winter cold brings with it the rising cost of utility bills, and in an economically depressed region like Eastern Kentucky, those bills can break the bank for many local families. [Hazard Herald]

When you read headlines about how Congress is rife with climate change deniers and willing to vote in favor of a massive oil pipeline that could increase greenhouse gas emissions, it’s easy to get discouraged about the direction the US is headed on global warming. But when you look at some of the hard numbers about how Americans are getting their energy, there’s actually a lot to be excited about. [Mother Jones]

Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson has been appointed by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office as the special prosecutor to handle the case involving the Sept. 13 shooting of a Lexington man in Madison County. [H-L]

With the idea of postal banking becoming more mainstream in the U.S., the head of the largest union of postal workers says he plans to make a revived banking service part of his union’s upcoming contract talks with the U.S. Postal Service. [HuffPo]

State Pension System Still A Sad Disaster

Leaders of the largest pension system for state workers learned Wednesday morning that it has only 21 percent of the money it’s expected to need for future payouts, down from 23 percent in 2013 and continuing a steady decline during the past decade. [H-L]

Rand Paul said Wednesday that Congress should take legal action against President Barack Obama in response to his planned executive action on immigration. [HuffPo]

Rick Pitino spoke about the sexytime extortion trial. Because that’s a thing that just won’t quit. [C-J/AKN]

If anyone thought the announcement of a bilateral US-China climate agreement on Wednesday might lead to a breakthrough on climate policy in Washington, Senate Republicans would like to inform them otherwise. [Mother Jones]

Grand Campus is taxable for the 2014 year but will be exempt for 2015, Madison County Property Valuation Administrator Billy Ackerman said Friday. [Richmond Register]

Rand Paul says he wants surveillance reform. Instead, he helped sink it. [Politico]

The Carter County Fiscal Court had its next-to-last meeting before the newly elected court members, which are all newcomers except Magistrate Brandon Burton, take their seats in January. [Ashland Independent]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is under fire from fellow Democrats over how he runs their weekly caucus meetings. [The Hill]

It’s official — about half of Kentucky’s registered voters kept Democrats in control of the state House of Representatives while at the same time they overwhelmingly voted to send Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell back to Washington to lead the Senate. [Ronnie Ellis]

In our story last month about a tobacco bond bailout by New York’s Niagara County, we noted that another county, Chautauqua, also had a deal in the works involving its distressed bonds. [ProPublica]

Rowan County is spending $4 million on renovations for its high school. A two-hour meeting of the Rowan County Board of Education would be the beginning of what seems like major renovations at Rowan County Senior High School. [The Morehead News]

One part of the Affordable Care Act is going according to plan, with U.S. states receiving and spending more money on the Medicaid health insurance program, a report released by the National Association of State Budget Officers on Thursday showed. [Reuters]

Kentucky motorists will pay less taxes for gas starting New Year’s Day, but the change will mean fewer road improvements, state officials warned Wednesday. [H-L]

I believe President Obama deserves deference in picking his team, and I’ve generally tried to give him that. But enough is enough. [Elizabeth Warren]