- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Republican James Comer raises $1 million for governor’s race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican James Comer says he has raised more than $1 million for his campaign for governor.

The state agriculture commissioner reported Monday he raised more than $555,000 in the three-month fundraising period that ended Dec. 31. Comer raised more than $500,000 the month after he announced his candidacy, for a total of just under $1.1 million. A campaign news release did not say how much money the campaign had available to spend after expenses.

Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner is the only other announced Republican in the race. He loaned his campaign $4 million during the summer. Attorney General Jack Conway is the only major Democratic candidate to file for governor, along with Lexington engineer Geoff Young.

The primary is May 19, and the general election is Nov. 3.

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Govt. report: Coal-related deaths in 2014 lowest ever in US

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The nation’s coal mines set a record for the lowest number of on-the-job fatalities last year, with 16, the federal mining agency said Monday.

There were two fewer deaths than the previous low of 18 in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. The agency said it is the lowest annual number of coal mining deaths ever recorded.

Forty miners died in 2014 in all mines, which include metal and non-metal operations.

“While MSHA and the mining industry have made a number of improvements and have been moving mine safety in the right direction, these deaths, particularly those in the metal and nonmetal industry, makes clear the need to do more to protect our nation’s miners,” MSHA chief Joseph Main said in a statement Monday.

The most common causes of mine deaths last year involved hauling equipment and machinery: Five haulage and five machinery-related deaths occurred in coal mines, and eight deaths were blamed on hauling equipment in metal and nonmetal mining, MSHA said.

West Virginia had the most coal-related deaths in 2014, with five. There were two deaths each in Kentucky, Virginia and Wyoming, and one each in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Montana and Utah.

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Special election set for northeast Ky. state Senate seat

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Some northeastern Kentucky voters will not have a state senator for the majority of the 2015 legislative session.

Democratic State Sen. Walter Blevins resigned from his 27th District seat on Sunday to become judge-executive of Rowan County. On Monday, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear ordered a special election on March 3 to replace him. State law requires at least a 56-day notice before a special election.

The winner will take office immediately after the results are certified. The 2015 legislative session begins Tuesday and concludes March 24. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet six days after March 3.

The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Jan. 13 for independents and candidates nominated by political parties and 4 p.m. Feb. 3 for write-in candidates.

The district includes parts of Bourbon, Fleming, Harrison, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Robertson and Rowan counties.

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House GOP to select new leaders after November elections

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - It’s a good time to be a Republican in Kentucky, unless you are in the state House of Representatives.

Republicans have their largest majority ever in the state Senate. They hold five of the state’s six congressional seats and can boast about being the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a major contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

But Republicans still can’t shake Democratic control of state government.

While McConnell won all but 10 of the state’s 120 counties in November, Democrats maintained their eight-seat majority in the House of Representatives, assuring Republicans of minority status there for the next two years.

Republican frustration could boil over on Tuesday when GOP lawmakers return to Frankfort to select leaders for the upcoming legislative session.

“Look at all the Southern states. All of them now have a Republican House and Senate - all of them, without exception,” said Rep. Adam Koenig. “There is a great deal of opinion among party officials and donors that we have to make a change.”

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