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Prominent Kentucky Republicans are urging grassroots efforts to expand GOP influence in Frankfort by flipping the last two Democratic constitutional offices in the upcoming election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Governor Matt Bevin and Congressman James Comer joined incumbent officers and Republican office-seekers at the First District Lincoln Reagan Dinner Saturday night in Murray.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke addressed a packed bar overlooking Cleveland’s industrial valley Monday afternoon, days after announcing his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

O’Rourke spoke for about 45 minutes, taking questions from an audience that filled Gino’s Cento Anno and spilled outside onto the patio in Cleveland’s Brooklyn Centre neighborhood. He opened by telling the crowd the country had never been more polarized.

WVXU file

WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman's unsual release of an audio recording of his late wife Pamela accusing her husband's rival, Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld, of mocking her cancer - an accusation not borne out by the facts. Was this just a political ploy by Smitherman, who, like Sittenfeld, wants to be the city's next mayor?

The Kentucky legislature has passed a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sending the measure to Gov. Matt Bevin to be signed into law.

Bob Castellini
David Kohl / AP

When you have been a reporter as long as I have, you have been assigned to countless boring stories in hundreds of dreary places, where, try as you might, it is a herculean task to come up with a tale that anyone but the chronically bored would read.

rob portman border wall
Screengrab / Facebook Live

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Ohio's Republican Senator Rob Portman said he would "vote to support the disapproval resolution before us" regarding President Donald Trump's emergency declaration for a border wall, while still maintaining he supports the president's overall plan. Soon after, the Senate overturned Trump's declaration by a 59-41 vote. 

Capitol Rotunda in Kentucky
Ed Reinke / AP

The Kentucky Senate has voted to ban doctors from performing abortions if they believe the person seeking the procedure wants it because of the fetus' race, sex or a disability. The measure now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin for final approval.

Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have proposed revising the state’s tax code, cutting $105 million in state revenue largely by changing how local banks get taxed.

heartbeat bill
Anne Sanner / AP

The Ohio Senate has passed the so-called "Heartbeat Bill" which bans an abortion when a viable heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. Republican leaders expect a possible legal challenge.

gang of five 2
Sittenfeld courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; all others provided

I've been around Cincinnati politics for 37 years now, and I have never seen anything that remotely compares to this compost heap caused by the "Gang of Five" and their thousands of mindless texts.

kentucky state capitol building
Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia

There are only four working days left in this year's legislative session, but a lot can happen in a short period of time in the Kentucky General Assembly.

WVXU-FM

WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik this morning about the somewhat unexpected decision of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to not run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even though Brown won't be a candidate, his "dignity of work" theme may have a major influence on the race. And don't count Brown out as a potential running mate for whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

ohio gerrymandering
Ohio Secretary of State

The state of Ohio is preparing to deliver its defense of the current Congressional district map in federal court. Plaintiffs say the map is unconstitutional because Republicans drew the map to favor their party, through what’s known as partisan gerrymandering.

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Ohio Oil And Gas annual meeting Friday to talk about the administration’s effort to expand energy production, and defend the administration’s national emergency declaration.

Columbus Police have concluded their internal investigation into the 2018 arrest of Stormy Daniels at a Columbus strip club, which the department calls “improper” but not pre-planned or politically motivated.

An estimated 21 percent of Hoosiers smoke – one of the highest smoking rates in the country. 

But of the nine bills related to smoking, cigarettes, and e-liquids introduced at the Statehouse this session, only two are moving forward. 

Amid massive protests from teachers in the state Capitol Thursday, Gov. Matt Bevin spoke at an anti-abortion rally celebrating several bills that would restrict the procedure.

The state legislature is poised to pass several anti-abortion bills, including one that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks — earlier than many people realize they are pregnant.

During Thursday’s rally, Bevin called himself the “most pro-life governor in America” and said restricting abortion protects human life.

A bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to treat some medical conditions has passed out of a state legislative panel.

Though the legislation has a long way to go to pass out of the legislature, the move amounts to one of the only times that a medical marijuana proposal has advanced in the statehouse.

House Bill 136 would create a state-regulated system that would include growers, processors, dispensers and testers of marijuana.

gang of five
Courtesy

One thing was abundantly clear in the over 600 pages of text messages and emails from the "Gang of Five" Cincinnati Council members – they have no use whatsoever for Mayor John Cranley.

Leaders of the Kentucky House and Senate have begun meeting behind closed doors to hammer out a final version of a bill that re-opens the two-year tax bill that passed last year.

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