The Daily 202: Kentucky is latest battleground in the marijuana wars

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bevin, Conway run on experience managing budgets.

— The Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky favors legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The sudden collapse of nonprofit health plans supported by tens of millions of dollars in Obamacare loans is igniting a new political wildfire over the health law — and it’s playing out in a tight gubernatorial race in Kentucky.Jailer Freddie Lewis tells WYMT-TV ( ) the four inmates beat Matthew Dotson earlier this month at the Pike County jail after they were given false information about him.FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky’s next governor will have just two months to craft a spending plan to contain the state’s skyrocketing public pension debt, account for its rapidly expanding Medicaid population and boost dwindling resources for public education. The recent demise of Kentucky Health Cooperative, a nonprofit startup seeded with federal loan dollars under the Affordable Care Act, is part of a bigger, national trend.

Yet the two major-party candidates vying to be the state’s chief executive – Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway – would rely on dramatically different experiences to tackle that looming challenge. Lieutenant Johnny Cooper says the inmates, Larry Kendrick, James Rowe, Derek Nunemaker and Adam Charles, have been put in isolation until further notice. The Kentucky plan dominated exchange enrollment during the first two years of operations, capturing roughly 60 percent of customers in a red state hailed as a symbol of Obamacare’s potential. It was a surprising exchange that seemingly puts the two major party nominees at odds with members of their own state and national political parties, but it seemed to fit right in to a tumultuous governor’s race in one of the last southern states where Democrats still hang on to power despite staggering losses in federal elections.

If we need it, the medical community has to come convince me. … And I haven’t heard from any of them.” “Medical marijuana is the only medicine I can think of that would be prescribed in joints,” Conway quipped, adding that he’s supported cannabidiol oil to treat seizures. “When I’ve met addicts … it always seems like it started with marijuana at an early age.” Bevin pushed back on the suggestion that giving “a kid with terminal brain cancer” access to medical marijuana is going to make him into a junkie or pusher. Kentucky voters will head to the polls next week in a gubernatorial election that has focused mostly on the merits of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. But he also defended himself, insisting that he would “never, ever” support recreational use of marijuana. “We’re on the campus of a university,” the Republican said. Since 2009, Conway’s office had seven budget reductions totaling $5.2 million, or a 37 percent decrease from the $14 million budget Conway inherited when he was first elected. In addition, the plans were saddled with rules that prohibited them from using federal funds for marketing and restricted which customers they could go after. “Insurance companies did everything they could to kill co-ops in the crib,” said former Democratic Sen.

In 2009, as the state was mired in budget deficits, Conway gave himself a 10 percent pay cut by writing a personal check to the state treasury of roughly $10,500. On the issue of coal, Conway touted his office’s suit against the Obama administration’s new EPA regulations while Bevin said Kentucky needs to capture its share of the emerging world coal market. When asked about medical marijuana, Conway said he supported it but Bevin said it could make it easier for people to access the drug for recreational use. Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, the Democratic candidate for Agriculture commissioner – a very powerful job in the Bluegrass State – is airing a TV commercial right now touting herself as “the only candidate” in the race who supports medical marijuana “to ease the suffering of cancer patients.” Her Republican rival for Agriculture commissioner opposes medical marijuana on the grounds that the state’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry is against it. “If you talk to hemp producers, the ones who are already investing in our state, they do not want to be co-mingled with its cousin,” Ryan Quarles reportedly said during a recent candidate forum. Republicans have seized on the failures as the result of ill-advised government meddling in the private insurance market and the latest evidence that Obamacare isn’t working.

Kentucky’s union membership was on par with the national average in 2014 but below its peak in 1989, when union members made up 14.8 percent of the state’s wage and salary workers, according to the bureau. The Republican-controlled state Senate approved a right-to-work law during this year’s legislative session, but the bill foundered in the state House, where Democrats have an eight-seat majority. Ben Sasse vowed to block all appointments to HHS until the agency explains why the startups are failing. “The administration knew beforehand that this plan was not viable and that tens of thousands of people could lose their coverage,” the Kentucky Republican said. “They chose to cling fast to a disastrous left-wing experiment with our health care system …” Conway, meanwhile, has maintained a steady, but minuscule lead in the polls. According to spokesman Daniel Kemp, “Jack Conway believes that making Kentucky a right-to-work state is a solution looking for a problem,” he said in a statement. “We are just going house-to-house and asking people two really quick questions about what their issue is and who they plan on voting for for governor,” she said.

Look for a growing legalization push across the country, especially in states that have already lowered punishments for using it. (USA Today has a map to track where the fight is paying out here.) Conviction vs. expediency – Bernie is drawing his sharpest contrasts yet with Hillary. That means any minor change in the landscape could tilt the outcome, particularly in an off-year election where voter turnout is only expected to be around 30 percent. Herlien said there’s been a mix of people who are interested in the election. “It’s really divided,” Herlien said. “I mean, we have a lot of people that have a very strong feeling about this and know it’s important. Dan Balz reports from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Sanders’ sharper edge. “Sanders (I-Vt.) never mentioned the former secretary of state by name, but his message was clear: He has been a man of conviction, prepared to upend the system; she is too often a political weather vane, too cautious and catering to the political establishment.” Four of the main issues he highlighted: the Iraq war, trade, Keystone XL and gay rights.

The Republican Governor’s Association announced on Tuesday that it will spend $1.6 million on ad buys backing Bevin in the final two weeks. “The whole business of health care in this election is so confusing to voters that Bevin might be able to use the demise of the co-op as an example of how Obamacare in Kentucky is not working,” said Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. “That would be a very misleading example.” “I don’t know if the Bevin campaign can capture the wind and frame the issue,” added Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican and Bevin backer. “If they do, I think it will become very significant.” The collapse of the co-op is not the only health care issue with political salience in the Kentucky governor’s race. That company, Integrity Asset Management, had no revenue and faced legal threats from another Fortune 500 company that made it difficult for Bevin to win business.

The vast majority of Kentuckians who have gained coverage under Obamacare are enrolled in public programs, with more than 500,000 individuals added to the Medicaid and CHIP rolls since 2013. Trump now raising questions about Carson’s faith: The Donald, intensifying his attacks on Ben Carson, now notes on the trail that Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist. During the Republican primary, Bevin was unequivocal about wanting to roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, a stance that helped him prevail in a fierce GOP primary in May. When Bevin sold the company in 2011, it was managing $3 billion in assets. “I’ve taken things off the ash heap that other people have washed their hands of and turned it around,” Bevin said. “This state needs a turnaround.” But with so many business interests -ownership of all or part of 10 companies, plus real estate and other personal investments – Bevin has had trouble keeping up with his taxes. He wants the state to seek a waiver from the federal government enabling it to slash the cost of the program, while not entirely eliminating expanded coverage.

Americans for Prosperity has made mobilizing voters on this issue a priority. “We’ve been leading the ground game in the field on this effort, and we plan on continuing to do this on the local and state level,” Crigler said. MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — April Miller and Karen Roberts stood before a minister Saturday night, hand-in-hand, and said the two words they fought for months to exchange. In an interview with The Associated Press, Bevin acknowledged his tax issues but noted his critics “could have done just as breathless a story of all the times I paid my taxes early and gotten a discount on it.” “Sometimes you do pay it late and you pay interest on having paid it late. Trump added that he had been attacking Jeb because everyone thought the former Florida governor would be the frontrunner; then he said he is now going to talk less about Bush and more about Carson. The couple, the first denied a license by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, celebrated their wedding Saturday, capping a months-long saga that landed them in the middle of a national firestorm over religious freedom and civil rights.

He described right-to-work in Kentucky as a “continual fight.” While politicians and political groups fight it out over a statewide right-to-work law, several counties in Kentucky have already approved local laws. You do this all the time in business.” He said late payments on his personal properties happened because of mix-ups with mortgage companies and small-town governments, which he said had nothing to do with his ability to manage money. Carson for lacking the vigor and fortitude to be president, but voters here are drawn to the retired neurosurgeon’s low-pitched manner,” Trip Gabriel writes on the front-page of today’s New York Times from Ames. “His supporters cite Mr. He announced pay cuts for his staff and slashed spending for travel and consultants, planning to focus his money on TV ads and organizing in the early states. While Jeb donors gathered in Houston this weekend, hoping to turn things around, leaders at Right to Rise, the main Bush super PAC, said the group is considering sending ground staff to key states.

Officials of the prominent left-leaning think tank point to news that 2015 will be the hottest on record, plus the strength of Hurricane Patricia, as fodder. This past Friday, Colorado Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman also sued to try blocking the EPA Clean Power Plan, one of 24 states trying to block President Obama’s signature environmental initiative.

A fresh Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 82 percent of Americans say gun violence is a serious problem, but the public splits sharply on whether to prioritize new gun laws to deal with it. A new lawsuit coming today says the ACA should be struck down because the Constitution requires tax-raising bills originate in the House. (AP) “Poland took a decisive turn to the right in its parliamentary election Sunday, tossing out the centrist party that had governed for eight years for a socially conservative and Euroskeptic party that wants to keep migrants out and spend more on Poland’s own poor,” the AP reports from Warsaw.

Tremors were felt in Kabul, New Delhi, and Islamabad. “A whale watching boat sank in the cold waters off Canada’s Vancouver Island late Sunday afternoon, killing at least five of its 27 passengers and crew members,” per Sarah Kaplan. And he just can’t stand it anymore. … This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. I am not running for reelection,’ Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes. “Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something. Now, he’s done. ‘He hates it,’ a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not. “Last week was — by Rubio’s standards — a very busy week in the Senate.

In the speech, he asked the Senate to pass a bill that would give Department of Veterans Affairs leaders more power to remove poor-performing employees. But it didn’t happen. … With that, he was done for the week, missing the next three votes.” Flashback to David Remnick’s excellent 2010 biography on Obama: “The truth was, David Axelrod told me, ‘Barack hated being a senator.’ … Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. And he is restless.’” Rubio, acutely aware of his perceived Obama-ish-ness, defended his absences on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday: “When I miss a vote, it’s not because I’m out playing golf.” “Fuming over Ryan, some conservative voices turn on the Freedom Caucus,” by Mike DeBonis: “Things may never be the same for the Freedom Caucus after most of its members moved last week to support Rep. The groundswell of support from hard-core conservative voters that emboldened the group as it battled Boehner and the GOP establishment seemed to subside for the first time in months. That has put its members in the unfamiliar position of defending their right flank … The anger over Ryan’s ascent has been fueled by voices across the conservative media landscape.

On the Internet, sites such as and the Drudge Report have pumped out a steady stream of anti-Ryan stories casting doubt on his record, while such prominent commentators as Erick Erickson, Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus have sharpened their teeth and urged conservatives to contact lawmakers and tell them to spurn Ryan … A handful of House hard-liners, perhaps 10 to 15, remain proudly outside the pro-Ryan camp; most continue to back Rep. Jones (R-N.C.), who said he has received more than 100 calls over two days from constituents opposing Ryan.” David Hoppe will leave lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to become Speaker Ryan’s chief of staff.

The two struck up a friendship when Ryan worked at Jack Kemp’s Empower America. “Both are fathers of three children, both are Midwesterners [and] both have been supporters of antiabortion groups,” notes The Post’s Robert Costa. “Both consider themselves to be entrenched members of the conservative movement, rather than just Republicans.” Ryan has a very wide and deep network on K Street. Katheryn Lehman of Holland & Knight, who met Ryan during his first House run in 1998, dubs him the “ultimate affable nerd jock.” — “After synod on family, Pope Francis faces a tough choice,” by Anthony Faiola and Stefano Pitrelli: “After three weeks, the gathering — called a synod — had exposed a rift within the church hierarchy.

On Sunday, Francis responded by invoking the biblical story of Jesus stopping to talk to a blind man, even as his disciples walked by … Some viewed his homily as a general call for mercy at a time of natural disasters and a migrant crisis in Europe. But after his speech to the synod a day earlier in which he admonished the ‘closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the church’s teachings and good intentions,’ his homily on Sunday seemed to others to serve as a reminder to his lieutenants of a core tenet of his papacy: outreach.” — “On Duty, Under Fire,” by Amy Brittain: There have been about 800 fatal shootings by police so far this year. “But only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. … In 74 percent of all fatal police shootings, the individuals had already fired shots, brandished a gun or attacked a person with a weapon or their bare hands, according to an analysis of actions immediately preceding the shootings. … These 595 cases include fatal shootings that followed a wide range of violent crimes, including shootouts, stabbings, hostage situations, carjackings and assaults.” — ZIGNAL VISUAL — Chris Christie leaving the quiet car on an Amtrak train from D.C. to New Jersey dominated the online discourse. “Perhaps Vice President Biden, Amtrak’s most traveled pol, should explain the rules of the quiet car to the New Jersey governor,” writes the Reliable Source’s Emily Heil. “The blustery Garden State leader reportedly was asked to move from the noise-free zone on a Sunday-morning train from Washington to New York. Christie, who had appeared on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ was heard yelling at his security detail and talking loudly into his phone before a conductor asked him to move to an area where conversations are permitted, per a fellow rider’s account on Gawker.

Another rider claims Christie’s convo wasn’t all that intrusive, though, and the Christie campaign has disputed the reported high volume.” Speaking of Clinton’s birthday, Hillary also received good wishes from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at a New York fundraiser (there was even a serenade from Tony Bennett): — New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Jon Bel Edwards, David Vitter advance to runoff in governor’s race,” by Julia O’Donoghue: “State Rep.

Vitter was the candidate of choice for conservative Republicans, but was a distant second with 23 percent … And it is obvious that Edwards and Vitter will be going hard after each other in the runoff. Vitter said electing Edwards would be like electing Barack Obama as governor of Louisiana … Vitter spent much of his victory speech giving the crowd a preview of his talking points during the runoff campaign.

He continued attending super PAC events after announcing his candidacy in mid-June as the group raced to meet a widely reported $100 million fundraising target at the end of that month … One week after his campaign launch in Miami, Mr. Later, he and more than a dozen attendees and some campaign aides drove less than two miles to another home for a catered dinner organized by the super PAC.

The campaign aides stayed in a separate room, away from the donors in the dining room, according to people who were there.” Carson: Women who have abortions are like slaveowners. From ThinkProgress: On NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ … Ben Carson compared women who decided to have abortions to slaveowners who ‘thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave.’ The discussion came after host Chuck Todd asked if life began at conception, to which Carson answered ‘I believe it does.’” Carson also told Chuck Todd that he’d “love” to outlaw abortion nationwide by overturning Roe v. Wade. “I’m a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen,” he said. A significant bloc regards their congressional leaders — House speaker John Boehner, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and their underlings — as enemies. And to make things worse, Hillary Clinton has a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, making her tougher for any Republican to beat.” –On the Hill: The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of a cybersecurity bill and will vote on a judicial nomination at 5:30 p.m.

The House meets at 12 p.m., with votes on a dyslexia bill expected at 6:30 p.m. –At the White House: President Obama holds a meeting with teachers, attends a luncheon hosted by former Sens. He pointed out that it’s unclear what policy in the region would have been successful: “We have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We see a healthy advance into the 60s to near 70 today with lots of sunshine only to be surpassed by widespread 70s tomorrow as humidity stays very low,” the Capital Weather Gang reports.

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