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Beshears and Abramsons urge Kentuckians to donate used cell phones to fight domestic violence

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear is suggesting that Kentuckians curb domestic violence by donating their used cell phones and accessories.

Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and his wife, Madeline Abramson, kicked off a monthlong drive Wednesday to collect the old phones.

Verizon Wireless has agreed to turn the devices into a cash grant for WorkSafe, a collobarative program of the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Commission on Women and The Mary Bryon Project, to provide domestic violence prevention training for businesses.

WorkSafe will distribute restored phones to domestic violence clients and give each up to 3,000 free minutes of usage.

At news conferences in Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, the Beshears and Abramsons said the drive will run Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.

Special collection boxes marked HopeLine will be available at 18 state agencies throughout the state, at University of Kentucky sororities and Verizon stores. Phones from any provider will be accepted.

So far this year, Verizon has given grants of more than $108,000 for domestic violence prevention in Kentucky.

Political speaking order set for this weekend’s Fancy Farm

FRANKFORT — The speaking order for politicians at this weekend’s 133rd annual Fancy Farm picnic has been set.

The political speaking will begin at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday on the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Graves County.

Mark Wilson, political organizer for the church picnic, said Monday that the no-shows are Gov. Steve Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and state treasurer Todd Hollenbach.

The political speaking, to be emceed by “Comment on Kentucky” host Ferrell Wellman, will begin at 2 p.m. CDT with five minutes of comments each by state Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, and state Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfiled.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, then will get six minutes.

Following McConnell also with six minutes will be U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville.

Each of the attending state constitutional officers will get six minutes. In order of speaking, they will be Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Attorney General Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Comer is a Republican; the others are Democrats.

Matt Bevin of Louisville, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate next year, will get five minutes. So will Ed Marksberry of Owensboro, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2015. They will flip a coin to see who goes first.

Beshear, Abramson to skip Fancy Farm

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson will not be attending next month’s Fancy Farm political picnic, state Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said Wednesday.

Logsdon said in an email that Beshear has a prior commitment related to job creation efforts, but “looks forward to attending next year in support of local, legislative and U.S.Senate Democratic candidates, including Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.”

Logsdon said in a phone interview that Abramson, who is expected to say by mid-August whether he will run for governor in 2015, will miss the picnic because of a family commitment.

Former Kentucky Democratic Party chief mulling possible bid for U.S. Senate

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Bill Garmer said Friday he is considering running for the U.S. Senate next year if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes declines to enter the race against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

“A lot of people have talked to me about the race,” said Garmer, a Lexington lawyer, in a telephone interview. “But Alison is the center of discussion. In my mind, if she wants the nomination, she has my support. She is one of the bright stars in the Democratic party and she wants to serve Kentucky. I would be the first in line to support her.”

Asked if he would consider running if Grimes decides not to run, Garmer said, “that sounds like a lawyer’s question but that would be fair.”

Grimes said April 23 that she is pondering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year against McConnell. She said she would “take the time to reflect with my family, my supporters on how I can best continue to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Abramson tells Louisville blog he supports marriage equality

Gov. Steve Beshear and Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson

FRANKFORT — Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson has told a Louisville news blog that he supports marriage equality for all adults.

“I don’t believe government should judge which adults can and which cannot make a loving, life-long commitment to each other. That’s why both Madeline (his wife) and I support marriage equality for all adults,” Abramson said in a statement to Fat Lip, a blog of LEO Weekly, an alternative weekly in Louisville.

The blog reported Monday that it had asked several Kentucky officials their views on marriage equality, including Gov. Steve Beshear.

Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Abramson and Beshear, confirmed the statements made by Kentucky’s top two elected officials.

Beshear did not take a stance on same-sex marriage in his statement.

“In regard to marriage, Kentuckians overwhelmingly voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that banned same-gender marriage and have made the decision for the Commonwealth,” Beshear said.

He was referring to Kentucky’s 2004 constitutional amendment, which prohibited the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Fancy Farm officials react to Abramson comment about their picnic

Two organizers of the annual Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County that kicks off fall political campaigns in Kentucky have released statements about Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson’s comment that the event is outdated with a rambunctious crowd.

Mark Wilson, the picnic’s political chairman, said, “As the organizer of political speaking for Fancy Farm, I along with the emcee have always made a good-faith effort to tame the crowd and for the visitors to be respectful to the invited speakers.

“It is hard for us as organizers to pull the reins on the crowd, so we deal with this issue the best we can and let the speakers speak and allow for the crowd to have a good time.

State GOP chairman takes Abramson to task for Fancy Farm comment

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – State Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson accused Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson Friday of “insulting Western Kentucky” with his comment that the annual Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County is outdated.

CN|2’s “Pure Politics with Ryan Alessi” reported Thursday that Abramson told the Louisville Rotary Club that he did not miss being at last Saturday’s 132nd picnic that traditionally kicks off fall political campaigns in Kentucky.

Abramson first called the picnic “an anachronism,” and then said, “I think the days of yelling and screaming at folks who are up on the stage — just to yell and scream and make fun of them are days of the past. Where was I? It was my anniversary.”

Beshears will take state plane to Final Four, but Democratic Party will pay for it

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear will use a state plane to take his family to New Orleans for the NCAA Final Four.

The Kentucky Democratic Party will reimburse the state for use of the plane because Democratic Party activities will be involved on the trip, said Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson.

Richardson did not immediately know what state political party activities will occur in New Orleans or what family members will be going with the governor other than first lady Jane Beshear.

The Beshears used a state plane March 9 to go to the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament in New Orleans and to take a side trip to Ocala, Fla., for Jane Beshear to visit friends.

Beshear’s tax reform panel holds first meeting

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear’s special commission to draft a plan to overhaul the state’s tax laws started its first day of work Tuesday by putting out a proposal to hire a consultant.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, chairman of the 23-member panel, said Beshear considered it “imperative that we have someone from the outside who could lead this group through the issues” the governor considers important.

The consultant, Abramson said, will focus initially on how Kentucky’s tax structure measures up with surrounding states and should be in place by the commission’s next meeting on April 10.

Cost for the consultant has not yet been determined, he added.

Beshear announced in January the formation of the panel to try to make the state’s tax code more equitable and to make it more competitive in economic development. It is to submit its report by the end of the year.

Beshears, Abramsons lead inaugural parade on Capital Avenue

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear rode up Capital Avenue Tuesday morning in an open horse-drawn carriage provided by the Kentucky Horse Park as part of an Inauguration Day parade that had more than 4,150 participants.

Following them in another carriage were Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and his wife, Madeline Abramson.

When their carriages arrived at the front steps of the Capitol, the couples dutifully took their place in a reviewing stand to watch 54 high school marching bands wish them well.

Beshear and Abramson were officially sworn into office at midnight. A public swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

It will mark the second time Beshear and Abramson will call the state’s Capitol building their workplace.