FLORENCE-- As Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell is often in the headlines. But, as one of just four senators who will vote against President Trump's Emergency Declaration, Kentucky's junior senator has found himself in national news as well.
Senator Rand Paul explained why he will vote against Trump's Emergency Declaration, "The Constitution is very clear that spending comes from Congress. The Constitution is very clear that we separated those powers. In fact, Madison said that we would pit ambition against ambition and that they would check each other, that there would be a butting of heads. Not just between parties, but actually between Congress and the president jockeying for who has the power."
Many are worried if the National Emergency goes through it will mean funding pulled from Kentucky military bases, including Fort Campbell where they have plans for a new school. Paul says he doesn't think his vote will cause Trump to retaliate. "We will fight for our military bases here, and I don't think the president would directly target a military base in Kentucky because he's unhappy about this. I talked to him three days ago, four days ago, and he didn't seem to be unhappy with me personally, and I kind of wouldn't think that he would be petty to try to remove money from a military base. I can't imagine that happening."
While he works only in the federal government, Paul says he is staying abreast of what happens in Frankfort, especially when it comes to pension reform. On pensions, the Republican from Bowling Green said, "The message hasn't gotten out there that Republicans want to fix the pension for the teachers. We're very concerned that if nothing is done, the teacher's pension could fail. And so I think the message we haven't done a good job yet is that we're on the same side as the teacher's. We're trying to save the pension for the teachers. The other thing that I think not many people know is that this governor, Governor Bevin, has put $500 million into the teacher's pension the last two years. He's the first governor in a decade to actually fully fund the teacher's pension. So they've kind of gotten at odds, and I think they're seeing past each other, when in reality the Republicans are trying to save the pension for the teachers."
House Bill 504, sponsored by Republican Scott Lewis, would change the teacher pension system for future teachers. Time is running out for that bill, as it hasn't even gone through committee yet.
While not a complete fix, Republican Representative Adam Koenig says his bill to legalize sports betting would bring in about 20 to 48 million dollars annually. Paul says it's a move he supports."We in Kentucky have been pretty accepting of betting on horses. I don't think betting on horses is different than betting on a slot machine or sports, so I'm pretty open to letting adults choose what they want to do. I'm not really for the government restricting gambling in any way. Cities can. Cities can decide if they want a casino here or there, and that's up to cities. But I think allowing people to bet on sports is no different than betting on horses, which most people in Kentucky are accepting of."
Even with a super majority, Koenig's bill is rumoured to not have the votes it needs to pass because of some of Kentucky's more conservative lawmakers.
Paul says he believes the coming election will turn Kentucky redder. "I do think that the registration in Kentucky has been overwhelmingly Republican. You look at the last four years, it's like 80 to 90 percent of the registration of new people voting either switching from Democrat to Republican, or new to the state is Republican. So we're becoming much, much stronger. I think the main thing that Republicans need to get across to the voters, if they want to succeed in the next election is that we're trying to save the pension for the teachers, and that we're on the same side as the teachers."