Can Rand Make It Til The KY Caucus?

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) returned to the prime-time Republican debate stage Thursday to make his closing argument to voters. [H-L]

Republicans are determined to push on with their investigation of Planned Parenthood, even after a Texas grand jury cleared the organization of wrongdoing on Monday and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who targeted the family planning provider in a series of undercover videos. [HuffPo]

Kentucky’s main funding stream for public schools escaped cutbacks in Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal Tuesday, but if approved by the legislature, colleges and universities would face reductions and a new effort to tie funding to performance. [C-J/AKN]

What is being done to fight heroin and prescription drug abuse in hard-hit states like New Hampshire? What can Congress do to help? Lawmakers tackle the issue. [NPR]

At least one new face will be added to the Russell City Council after all but one council member filed for re-election in the upcoming nonpartisan municipal race. [Ashland Independent]

Decades before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party she was years ahead of her time. So why don’t more people know about her? [BBC]

Metcalfe County magistrates adopted on second reading an ordinance Tuesday morning adding a $35 annual membership charge/subscriber fee to county residents’ property tax bills. The fee is being levied in order to provide fire protection services for the county. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Donald Trump has caused Republican leaders to shudder at the impact the bombastic New Yorker could have on down-ticket races. Democrats, however, see only potential for election wins. [Politico]

Here’s yet another take on Jim Gray. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat, on Tuesday announced he will run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Rand Paul. [Ronnie Ellis]

A U.S. appeals court heard arguments on Wednesday over whether a high school in Virginia should be ordered to allow a transgendered student to use the boys’ bathroom, even though he was born a biological female. [Reuters]

Reminder: This is one of the guys Bevin trusts to cut 9% from the budget at his discretion. [Page One]

The White House on Wednesday said it has “concerns” with many of the provisions in a wide-ranging energy bill being debated in the Senate. [The Hill]

The homeless count was completed in Louisville and let’s just cut to the chase: this is hugely disappointing. Compassionate City needs a bit more compassion. [The ‘Ville Voice]

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama promised to unite Washington and the nation behind progressive change. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton mocked him. [HuffPo]

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Is Education Screwed In KY? Probably.

Matt Bevin excluded K-12 schools from funding cuts in an austere state budget proposal that would slash funding to Kentucky’s public universities. [H-L]

Donald Trump may be about to do something that has never been done in the modern presidential nominating era: Win a state primary without a single endorsement from a member of Congress. [HuffPo]

On Tuesday, state Sen. Gerald Neal learned that Charles Booker, his former protege who Neal defended when he lost his job with the Legislative Research Commission for appearing in an ad for Alison Lundergan Grimes, was running against him. [C-J/AKN]

Top Democrats from Michigan’s congressional delegation have introduced a bill to expand lead poisoning notifications in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. [The Hill]

The state’s minimum hourly wage would be raised to $10.10 over the next two and half years under a bill that cleared a House committee today. House Bill 278, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, would increase Kentucky’s current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $8.20 this August, $9.15 in July 2017 and $10.10 in July 2018. The increase would not apply to businesses that have a recent average annual gross volume of sales of less than $500,000. [Press Release]

Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson, the current head of NATO’s Allied Land Command, has been chosen as the new commander of international forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Wednesday amid concerns about setbacks in the fight against the Taliban. [Reuters]

Kentucky environmental advocates are worried that budget reductions called for by Gov. Matt Bevin will make it impossible for the Energy and Environment Cabinet to perform its basic functions. [WFPL]

Donald Trump’s rivals are mocking the GOP poll leader for his decision to skip this week’s Fox News debate and deprive them of their last chance to confront him before Monday’s Iowa caucuses. [Politico]

More than 300 candidates have filed to run for office in this year’s election, including 220 for state House races. [Ronnie Ellis]

Here is some of the best reporting on, and key moments from, the on-going public health crisis in Flint, Michigan. [ProPublica]

Ashland school superintendent and former mayor Steve Gilmore told his school board Monday he will step down in June because he is seeking his previous job. [Ashland Independent]

After a Texas-based grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood on Monday, clearing an Austin-based clinic of any wrongdoing, GOP presidential candidates are simply doubling down on their opposition to the national women’s health organization. [ThinkProgress]

Matt Bevin’s proposed state budget includes $60 million in state bonds for a proposed $250 million overhaul of Lexington’s convention center. [H-L]

When Bernie Sanders released his universal health care plan last week, promising that most people would receive more generous insurance coverage while paying less for medical care, most policy experts said it sounded too good to be true. [HuffPo]

Another Week Of Bevin Shenanigans?

Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt is looking for used coats to distribute to those in need. She announced Friday that Republic Bank & Trust had volunteered to collect coats at its Lexington branches. Chase Dry Cleaners on South Ashland Avenue will clean the coats before they are distributed. [H-L]

Diplomacy’s great promise is that one can never predict where discussions will lead once they have begun. [HuffPo]

Matt Bevin is just like Ernie Fletcher. Always appointing and promoting corrupt good old boys. In fairness, that means he’s just like the current mess of Democrats in charge. And that’s not a good thing. [C-J/AKN]

This is what you get. Reap what you sow, you look-the-other-way-and-whistle, ignore-the-hate-spread-by-your-leaders, just-worried-bout-your-own-money motherfuckers. Trump voters are the illegitimate children you spawned while skullfucking a bald eagle atop a pile of Peggy Noonan columns and screaming, “I JUST REALLY BELIEVE IN SMALL GOVERNMENT!!!!!” [Click the Clicky]

Told ya Matt Bevin’s decision to kill Beshear’s effort on voting rights restoration was a disaster because Republicans in Frankfort are worse than Kentucky Democrats. [WFPL]

The United States on Saturday lifted sanctions against Iran and announced that four Americans held prisoner in the country will be returning home, in a whirlwind day of diplomacy that cements President Obama’s engagement with Iran as a pillar of his legacy. [The Hill]

Nicholasville photographer Walter Roycraft has been selected as the Kentucky Arts Council’s featured artist for January and February. [Richmond Register]

This Martin O’Malley thing seems dumb as hell. Once furniture is used or lived with, it greatly depreciates in value. [Reuters]

From grappling with more than 20 inches of snow that was dumped on roadways, to dealing with day-to-day concerns that arise when overseeing government entities, Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale and Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty detailed Friday the struggles and successes of their inaugural years in office. [Glasgow Daily Times]

How a woman whose muscles disappeared discovered she shared a disease with a muscle-bound Olympic medalist. [ProPublica]

Mayor Jim Tom Trent said his first year in office was largely positive and he thinks more good things are coming in 2016. [The Morehead News]

For his first State of the Union address in his new role as Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has invited a group of guests aimed at demonstrating that developing local organizations, rather than relying on government, is the solution to the problem of poverty in America. A ThinkProgress examination of the people Ryan has chosen to feature, however, shows that several have received significant government assistance for their nonprofits. [ThinkProgress]

Twelve incumbents have filed to run for the Lexington Urban County Council in the fall, but only one has a challenger. [H-L]

The Obama administration, in the first major review of the country’s coal program in three decades, on Friday ordered a pause on issuing coal-mining leases on federal land as part of new executive actions to fight climate change. [HuffPo]

Sounds Like Fun In Madison County…

Thousands of welds might be deficient at the weapons destruction plant in Richmond. [H-L]

The grandest and most majestic first act of 2016 by the Republican majority in Congress was to take a meat clever and sever 17 million Americans from their Affordable Care Act health insurance. [HuffPo]

Congress has effectively lifted the nation’s longstanding ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs, which allow intravenous drug addicts to trade dirty syringes for clean ones in the hopes of preventing disease. [C-J/AKN]

In 10 months, Americans will go to the polls to pick the next U.S. president. When they cast their ballots, those votes will likely hinge on how they feel about the issues most important to them. But what are those issues? [NPR]

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined the field for the Kentucky Republican presidential caucus before the Thursday deadline, bringing the total of candidates to 11. [WFPL]

US jobs growth remained solid in December as the economy added 292,000 jobs, beating expectations. [BBC]

This is what happens when people are too ignorant or dishonest to realize you can support law enforcement officers and still want accountability. [WKYT]

Young undocumented immigrants, beware: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will unabashedly tell you to your face that if he’s president, he would deport people like you. [ThinkProgress]

Looking back on his first year of elective office, Madison Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor said he hopes the public is pleased with what the county accomplished in 2015. [Richmond Register]

For advocates of women’s reproductive rights, 2015 was the definition of “annus horribilis:” marked by tough new limits on abortion, a debilitating Planned Parenthood scandal, and a shooting at a Colorado clinic that left three people dead. [ProPublica]

Special elections in Eastern Kentucky are always tons of fun. Yes, Eastern Kentucky, not eastern Kentucky. Kinda like website and not Web site. [Ashland Independent]

The indelible imprint left by human beings on Earth has become so clear that it justifies naming a new geological epoch after mankind, experts said on Thursday. [Reuters]

A proliferation of threats at schools across the state has officials working with police to determine best responses and prevention techniques. [H-L]

Rest a little easier tonight, Earthlings: NASA has just launched a new office aimed at protecting the planet from potential doomsday asteroids. [HuffPo]

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Get Ready For The Stumbo Meltdown

What’s that nonsense about caring about Eastern Kentucky again? Kentucky may be the nation’s third-leading coal producer, but over the years it has increasingly turned to other states to supply coal for its power plants. [H-L]

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Friday proposed an overhaul of the U.S. welfare system that would eliminate what he called failing programs for the poor and send the federal dollars from them to the states to develop their own plans. [HuffPo]

Another week, another attack by House Speaker Greg Stumbo on former House Democrats who have become Republicans in recent weeks as the GOP threatens to take control of Kentucky government. [C-J/AKN]

This isn’t “Shark Tank.” This is your democracy. But as the bidding grows higher, your voice gets lower. You’re simply priced out of the marketplace of ideas. That is, unless you are one of the ultra wealthy. [NY Times]

Some Frankfort wags like to say Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo thrives on chaos. If so, he ought to be positively giddy. [Ronnie Ellis]

As the price of oil plunges to its lowest point in 12 years — and threatens to drag the broader U.S. economy down with it — lawmakers say Congress should consider helping teetering energy companies with policy fixes beyond the decision to lift the oil-export ban. [The Hill]

Despite a warmer holiday season than expected, the cold reality of credit card debt may soon settle in as many receive their first credit card statements of 2016. After loading up their plastic with gifts, food and travel expenses during the holidays, many Americans are shocked by the balance owed come January. [Richmond Register]

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider on Monday a conservative legal challenge targeting public sector unions when the justices take up a case brought by non-union teachers in California who object to being compelled to pay for collective bargaining. [Reuters]

A pair of creditors is looking to force the troubled Bullitt Utilities Inc. into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, claiming it is their best hope of getting paid what they’re owed. [Business First]

The only thing standing between public sector unions and financial disaster may be Justice Antonin Scalia. [ThinkProgress]

A dozen fat, white bigots held an anti-Muslim “rally” in Frankfort over the weekend. [WHAS11]

Money clearly doesn’t buy intelligence. Donald Trump’s new call to encourage guns in schools may sound radical even by the standards of the current gun rights movement, but the reality is state legislators and activists all over the country are pushing to expand gun owners’ rights to bring firearms into schools and onto college campuses. [Politico]

Someone asked why we haven’t mentioned the departure of KDP’s chairman. Here’s why: it doesn’t matter. The KDP is dead in the water. Not even floating. Already popped and sinking to the bottom. It’ll be there until the current mess of good old boys retires and fresh, new faces claw their way back to Frankfort in a few years. [H-L]

NASA’s high-tech endeavors normally look outward. But given the existential threat facing the world’s coral reefs, the space agency has decided to focus its efforts closer to home — and the result may be game changing. [HuffPo]

Jack Conway: The Corruption Enabler

Mitch McConnell says a Republican takeover of the statehouse is inevitable. He’s right. But it’ll only last a few years. [H-L]

The close of 2015 brought with it decisions from grand jury not to indict anyone in the deaths of Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland, who both died in high-profile police encounters. [HuffPo]

On his last day in office, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway issued a ruling that said public officials can use their private cell phones to conduct public business, such as sending text messages. If Andy Beshear is worth his weight, he’ll immediately issue a differing opinion. Otherwise, Kentucky corruption is about to go up ten notches. [C-J/AKN]

Republicans had advance notice that Obama planned to take action on guns and they still couldn’t come up with anything. [The Hill]

Median household income was flat or declined in all but four of Kentucky’s 120 counties in the years following the Great Recession, according to new Census Bureau data. [WDRB]

E-cigarette companies are reaching about seven in 10 U.S. middle- and high-school students with advertisements employing themes of sex, independence and rebellion that hooked previous generations on regular cigarettes, a government study released on Tuesday said. [Reuters]

The director of an animal rescue group in Laurel County had a hearing Monday in District Court. [WKYT]

Here’s how Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton differ on Wall Street. [ThinkProgress]

Drivers may see some changes the next time they approach a traffic checkpoint, including signs warning them that they are approaching a police roadblock. [The Morehead News]

With only weeks before GOP primary voters first cast their ballots, the level of alarm among establishment Republicans about the enduring dominance of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is reaching new heights. [Politico]

The Kentucky College & Career Connection (Ky3C) coalition invites middle and high school students to create 30-second Public Service Announcements promoting the idea that there’s more than one way to pay for college. [Hazard Herald]

The FBI now tracks animal abuse like it tracks homicides. It was more than 10 years ago that Mary Lou Randour realized she couldn’t answer what should have been a simple question: Was cruelty against animals on the rise or in decline? [WaPo]

The coal industry is seeking to forestall new standards aimed at cutting miners’ exposure to breathable dust that can cause deadly black lung disease. [H-L]

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday sharply criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton during a fiery Manhattan speech about Wall Street reform. [HuffPo]