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Andy Barr selected to speak at GOP national convention

UPDATED at 3:24 P.M.

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Andy Barr, the Republican nominee for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District race, has been selected to address the Republican National Convention during its first evening session next Monday.

Barr, whom the National Republican Congressional Committee has designated as one of the most promising Republican challengers nationwide, said he does not know when or how long he will get to speak.

“I assume it will be relatively brief but I consider it a tremendous opportunity and honor to represent the people of Kentucky,” Barr said in a telephone interview.

Davis resigns from Congress 5 months early

By Beth Campbell
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE — Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky resigned Tuesday, citing a family health issue.

Davis had previously announced he would retire this year from Congress. He said in a statement issued Tuesday that a family health issue had developed recently that needs more of his time.

“As a result, I cannot continue to effectively fulfill my obligations to both my office and my family,” he said. “Family must and will come first.”

No compromise on congressional redistricting; issue probably headed to court

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — State lawmakers failed to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts before Tuesday’s candidate filing deadline, which means the issue probably will end up in court.

House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, told House members about 20 minutes after the 4 p.m. filing deadline that a compromise agreement between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate could not be reached.

The House and Senate had delayed the original deadline from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7 to give the two sides more time to reach an agreement.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, had worked with members of congress on a possible compromise that late last week looked promising, House leaders said. But Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers said Tuesday afternoon that the two sides appeared to “agree to disagree.”

Stumbo said congressional candidates will run in the state’s existing districts. That means someone — either a candidate or a national political party — will probably challenge the constitutionality of Kentucky’s districts.

House and Senate prepare to fight over Kentucky’s congressional map

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The Republican-led state Senate approved its plan to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts late Wednesday, setting up a fight with the Democratic-led House in coming days over the contentious political issue.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the House will not accept the Senate’s plan, which means leaders from both chambers will have to hash out their differences in a conference committee. Stumbo said he is hopeful the two sides can strike a deal on House Bill 2, which includes the congressional map, by the end of Friday.

Time is running out to reach an agreement. The filing deadline for candidates to seek state and federal offices is Jan. 31. If an agreement is not worked out by the end of this week, the legislature may have to push back the filing deadline.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown, chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, said the Senate’s congressional map does not differ greatly from the current congressional map.

Plan would put Hal Rogers’ home county in two congressional districts

PDF: House plan for congressional districts

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A state House committee voted along party lines Thursday to split the home county of Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset into two congressional districts as it redraws the boundaries of Kentucky’s six districts.

The plan contained in House Bill 2 also moves Boyle, Garrard and part of Jessamine counties from Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District to south-central Kentucky’s 2nd District.

It also makes Northern Kentucky’s 4th District a more urban district and moves Daviess County from the 2nd District to the 1st District.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, acknowledged after the House State Government Committee approved the bill that it is likely to change before becoming law.

“I assume it will go through some vigorous debate and likely transformation,” he said.

Proposals to redraw Ky. congressional districts would bring big changes

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

PDF: View the proposals

FRANKFORT — Two new proposals to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts could mean major changes for Central Kentucky voters.

Both plans appear to benefit Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who represents Lexington and many surrounding counties in the 6th Congressional District.

The proposals — one pushed by the Democratic-controlled House and another by unnamed members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation — would move Republican-leaning Jessamine and Garrard counties out of Chandler’s district, replacing them with counties that lean more Democratic.

Republican Andy Barr, a Lexington lawyer who narrowly lost to Chandler in 2010 and plans to challenge him again in 2012, said Tuesday that the emerging plans amount to “incumbent-protection gerrymandering for a weak incumbent.”

Feds deny request to delay new insurance rules to 2014

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Federal officials have denied Kentucky’s request to delay implementation of a portion of the federal health care overhaul bill until 2014.

But officials with the Department of Health and Human Services did allow Kentucky to delay full implementation of the provision that would require insurance companies to spend 80 percent of premiums on paying customers’ claims until 2012, according to letter the federal agency sent the state on Friday.

Kentucky plus 11 other states and Guam had asked federal authorities to delay implementing the requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The medical loss ratio was born out of concerns that insurance companies were spending too much on executive salaries, marketing and other overhead costs while at the same time raising premiums for customers. If an insurance company does not meet the 80 percent ratio it will be required to forfeit or repay its customers.

Census: A lot of Kentuckians will get a new congressman

By Bill Estep – bestep@herald-leader.com

A lot of Kentuckians are going to get new representatives in the U.S. House because of significant shifts in the state’s population.

The eastern and western ends of the state lost population between 2000 and 2010 while the middle third grew, according to U.S. Census figures released this week.

Three of the state’s six congressional districts fall short of the necessary population, while the other three are over it.

The national average for a U.S. House District will be 710,767.

However, the target number will vary by state; dividing Kentucky’s population of 4.3 million by six seats means a population target for each district of about 723,000.

House panel approves bill to ban pension ‘placement agents’

State Rep. Mike Cherry, D-PrincetonFRANKFORT – A House committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday that bans state governments’ pension funds from paying middlemen known as “placement agents.”

But the sponsor of House Bill 480, House State Government chairman Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, removed from the measure term limits for members on the boards overseeing billions of dollars held by the Kentucky Retirement Systems, the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and the Judicial Form Retirement System.

He also deleted from the bill a requirement that the state auditor review the retirement systems every five years.

Cherry said he made the deletions because he wants to see what recommendations state Auditor Crit Luallen may have after she is finished with her review of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

Hal Rogers urges state leaders to pass meth bill

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, right, listens to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, prior to their testimony in front of a Senate panel in Frankfort, Ky., Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Both men testified in favor of a bill that would require a prescription for certin cold medications. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

By Beth Musgrave – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — In a rare Frankfort appearance, long-time U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers urged legislators to pass a controversial bill that would require a prescription to buy cold medicines that contain ingredients used in the manufacturing of meth.

The Republican Congressman, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, spoke before both the state House and Senate Judiciary committees and later at a packed rally in the state Capitol rotunda on behalf of House Bill 281 and Senate Bill 45.

The push from Rogers was enough to get Senate Bill 45 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a narrow 6-4 vote but the bill was not taken up by the full Senate later in the day, as had been expected.

The battle over whether to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine is shaping up as one of the biggest and costliest of the legislative session, which resumed on Tuesday. And unlike most Frankfort tussles, it’s a battle with no clear political or geographic lines.