- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015
McConnell: Tobacco should not be excluded from trade pact

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (AP) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Tuesday that the inclusion of anti-tobacco language in a Pacific Rim trade deal being negotiated could influence his stance on a potential agreement covering nearly 40 percent of the global economy.

The Kentucky Republican also said climate change should not surface as an issue in the trade talks involving a dozen nations.

As the Senate’s top-ranking leader, McConnell will wield considerable influence when a trade deal comes up for a Senate vote.

In a rare show of teamwork, McConnell recently sided with President Barack Obama to give the president greater authority to negotiate trade deals. The bill gives Congress the right to approve or reject trade agreements but not change them.

McConnell is a free-trade advocate, but indicated that how tobacco and coal are treated would be factors in weighing a trade deal.

“I’ve said to the trade negotiator that carve-outs for commodities that the administration doesn’t like are a bad idea,” McConnell said Tuesday after a speech in Shelbyville. “And I hope they won’t do that. I’ve also expressed my opposition to try to turn the trade deal into some kind of climate change agenda, given the depression we have in the coalfields. So we’ll see what the final deal looks like. I hope it’s one I can support.”

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Study: Kentucky’s Medicaid population centered in east

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A new review by a nonprofit health organization shows that the largest share of Kentucky’s Medicaid population lives in the impoverished eastern portion of the state.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has embarked on a three-year study of how the federal Affordable Care Act is affecting Kentucky. The group released its first report on Tuesday. About a quarter of the state’s population is now on Medicaid after the state decided to expand the program’s eligibility requirements.

Eastern Kentucky accounts for 32 percent of the Medicaid recipients while 25 percent live in western Kentucky. Nineteen percent live in Louisville, 16 percent live in Lexington and 8 percent live in northern Kentucky near Cincinnati.

Kentucky’s uninsured rate dropped 10.4 percentage points following the expansion, outpacing surrounding states and the national average.

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New Conway ad attacks Bevin over his taxes

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democratic nominee for governor Jack Conway has aired his first attack ad of the 2015 election.

The ad began airing Tuesday on Kentucky cable and satellite markets across the state. It shows a clip of Republican nominee Matt Bevin saying he does not have a problem paying his taxes followed by a list of all the tax problems Bevin has had. The list includes failure to pay individual taxes along with taxes associated with the various companies he owns.

The ad ends with the line “you can’t trust him.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell used some of the same accusations against Bevin during the 2014 Senate primary. Bevin has acknowledged his previous issues with taxes but has said those problems were caused by others and said he paid what he owed once he learned of the debt.

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Belafonte, Davis to receive Ali Humanitarian Awards

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Singer and activist Harry Belafonte and Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis will headline this year’s winners of Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards.

The awards are named after the former heavyweight boxing champion, who has focused on humanitarian causes since leaving the ring.

Ali is scheduled to attend the Sept. 19 ceremony in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Organizers said Tuesday that Belafonte will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement for his contributions to civil rights.

Davis will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award for her efforts to promote gender equality.

Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Janet Evans will emcee the event.

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