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J. Scott Applewhite 

Laura Albinson of Pasadena, Md., displays a message for members of the House as they leave the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the House will take steps next week to sent articles of impeachment to the Senate for President Donald Trump's Senate trial. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Ahead of impeachment trial, Trump suggests not having it

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said the Senate should simply dismiss the impeachment case against him, an extraordinary suggestion as the House prepares to transmit the charges to the chamber for the trial.

The Republican president sent mixed messages ahead of the Senate proceedings, only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. Trump faces charges that he abused power by pushing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and then obstructed Congress.

Trump first suggested his own ideas for trial witnesses, then he said almost the opposite Sunday by tweeting that the trial shouldn’t happen at all.

“Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial” over charges he calls a hoax, Trump tweeted, “rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!”

The idea of dismissing the charges against Trump is as unusual as it is unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to a proposal circulating last week among conservative senators, but he doesn’t have enough support in the Republican-held chamber to actually do it. It would require a rare rules change similar to the approach McConnell used for Supreme Court confirmations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, warned Sunday that senators will “pay a price” if they block new witness testimony with a trial that she contends Americans perceive as a “cover-up” for the president’s actions.

“It’s about a fair trial,” Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week.” “The senators who are thinking now about voting for witnesses or not, they will have to be accountable.”

She said, “Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay a price.”

Voters are divided over impeachment largely along the nation’s deeply partisan lines, and the trial is becoming a high-stakes undertaking at the start of a presidential election year.

A House vote to transmit the articles to the Senate is expected to bring to a close a standoff between Pelosi and McConnell over the rules for the trial. The House voted to impeach Trump last month.

Yet ending one showdown merely starts another across the Capitol as the parties try to set the terms of debate over high crimes and misdemeanors.

Democrats want new testimony, particularly from former White House national security adviser John Bolton, who has indicated he will defy Trump’s orders and appear if subpoenaed.

Trump doesn’t want his brash former aide to testify. Republican allies led by McConnell, R-Ky., are ready to deliver swift acquittal without new testimony.

Trump first said Sunday it’s Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who should both testify, which would be unlikely.

The president said he shouldn’t have to carry the “stigma” of impeachment because he’s done nothing wrong. Pelosi said the House vote last month means Trump will be “impeached forever” and “for life.”

McConnell is reluctant to enter a divisive Senate debate over witnesses that could split his party and prolong a trial that is already expected to consume weeks of floor time.

He is seeking a speedy acquittal and has proposed a process similar to the presidential impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999, which would start the proceedings and then vote later on hearing new testimony.

One leading Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, predicted the trial would end ”in a matter of days. Graham and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. are leading the effort to dismiss the charges against Trump.

Trump delayed nearly $400 million in aide as Ukraine battled Russia on its border while he pushed the country’s new president to investigate Biden, whose son Hunter Biden served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was vice president.

Some GOP senators want to turn the impeachment trial away from the Democrats’ case and toward the Bidens. GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Sunday he wants to hear from the Bidens “and find out – get to the bottom of that.”

The House hasn’t set the timing for this week’s vote to transmit the impeachment articles to the Senate. Pelosi will meet behind closed doors with House Democrats to decide next steps Tuesday ahead of the party’s presidential primary debate that evening, the last before the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3.

Once the Republican-led Senate receives the charges, the trial is expected to begin swiftly.

While some Democrats have grumbled about the delay, Pelosi and other party leaders defended their strategy, saying it produced new potential evidence and turned public attention on the upcoming trial.

House Democrats, who didn’t issue a subpoena for Bolton last year, did not rule out doing so now. Pelosi also left open the door to filing more articles of impeachment against Trump.

Warren County Real ID office opens
 Don Sergent  / 

Warren County’s regional Real ID office is now open at the new Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Vehicle Regulation office at 360 E. Eighth Ave. in Stadium Park Plaza near Starbucks, but it will be serving Warren County residents only for now.

In what a KYTC news release called a “soft launch” of the state’s first regional driver’s license office outside Frankfort, the office will initially offer two stations to process Real ID licenses for Warren County residents.

In coming months, it will serve a 10-county region in a new office location with expanded capacity.

Warren County residents who have a current driver’s license, permit or identification card may apply for a Real ID-compliant version if they want to use a state-issued credential to meet upcoming Real ID requirements that go into effect Oct. 1. Those IDs will be fully compliant with federal law enacted to increase security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and will be needed to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings.

Matt Henderson, KYTC’s vehicle regulation commissioner, made the announcement in November that KYTC would be rolling out 12 regional Real ID sites in early 2020.

The announcement of the regional offices ended a plan to have county circuit court clerks produce the federally compliant IDs just as they have handled traditional driver’s licenses.

That process encountered problems and was scrapped in September in favor of the plan to open regional offices in Bowling Green, Paducah, Madisonville, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Somerset, Manchester, Jackson, Prestonsburg and Morehead.

Henderson said the 12 offices will eventually expand to as many as 30. For now, county circuit court clerks will continue to handle the traditional driver’s licenses that aren’t Real ID-compliant, but Henderson said the KYTC will eventually take over production of all licenses.

Kentucky is one of the last states to come up with a process for producing the licenses that conform to federal law. After Oct. 1, the new license will be needed at airport security checkpoints or to visit military bases and federal buildings. A valid passport will be accepted for air travel and military base entry.

Henderson said having 12 regional offices will mean that “folks will have a decent driving time” to get their new licenses. But the Bowling Green office – serving Warren, Todd, Monroe, Metcalfe, Logan, Simpson, Allen, Barren, Butler and Edmonson counties – could create some inconvenience for residents of those outlying counties.

“People from those nine other counties driving into Bowling Green will increase our traffic, and it could be frustrating for the people coming from counties that are over an hour away,” said Brandi Duvall, Warren Circuit Court clerk. “If they don’t have all the documentation that’s required, they’ll have to go back home and then make another trip.”

Despite such logistical problems, Duvall said she supports the KYTC’s plan to take over production of the licenses.

“I’m glad they’re taking this on,” Duvall said. “The circuit court clerks and the Transportation Cabinet came together and agreed that this was best. They’re taking back what they should have been doing.

“It’s going to be a transition, and they’re going to have an influx of people. That initial influx could be overwhelming, but ultimately it will be fine. The new ID will be good for eight years, and that’s a plus.”

The KYTC website said the new license will require a proof of identity document such as a birth certificate, proof of Social Security number and proof of residency such as a utility bill.

A standard driver’s license that isn’t Real ID compliant will still be available and will cost $43 for eight years.

“To avoid a rush, it’s important for residents to know they may already have a valid form of Real ID, like a passport or military ID, they can use instead of the new license if they want to visit military bases and fly within the U.S. starting this October,” Duvall said. “Current driver’s licenses will continue to remain valid for driving, voting and general identification purposes.”

Warren County residents may visit the KYTC regional field office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Applicants will receive a temporary 30-day document that serves as a driving credential until the permanent card arrives in the mail at the applicant’s residence.

Only debit and credit cards will be accepted (no cash or check). Regional offices are not equipped to serve applicants who require testing or re-testing. The cost of a four-year Real ID license is $24 and $48 for an eight-year license.

– More information about the KYTC’s rollout of the Real ID regional offices can be found at the drive.ky.gov website.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

10 Questions with Telia Butler
 Justin Story  / 

Current job title: Director of sales, Courtyard Marriott Bowling Green.

Hometown: Bowling Green.

Family: Husband, Jeremy. Fluffy 8-year-old tuxedo kitty, Big Luna Tuna. We live across the road from my parents, Clint and Tish, and granddaddy, Buddy. Grandpa Lou moved to town recently, so we’re all here together for the first time in more than 30 years.

The one thing no one knows about me is ... I keep a bag of jump ropes in the trunk of my car. I was on the Natcher Elementary School Jumpin’ Jaguars team more than 20 years ago. That comes up in conversation more often than you’d think. You never know when you’ll need to prove you still have the moves!

My dream job is ... turning my love for travel and history into a business maybe travel blogging or writing for National Geographic. My roots are in journalism and storytelling, while my passion is history. Finding a way to tell stories about the places I love and discovering new experiences is on my list.

My first job was ... communications and marketing intern at Lost River Cave. After graduating from Western Kentucky University, I spent a season interning at one of Bowling Green’s oldest attractions, helping establish its inaugural Scarecrow Trail event that’s now a huge fall favorite. Being a cavewoman, I was introduced to the worlds of tourism and hospitality.

I soon discovered they were amazing industries to be part of – showing people a good time and telling stories about my hometown? Ideal!

The best advice I ever got was ... from a magnet on my parents’ fridge at home. It’s a photo from “The Andy Griffith Show,” with Andy, Barney and Gomer, that says not to take life too seriously. It was never a quote from the TV show or a particular person, but I grew up watching its taped reruns, plus “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Monkees,” “Gunsmoke” and other classic shows. Most of my real-life conversations with Dad are only Andy Griffith quotes and applying them in context – we’re hard for people to follow sometimes. Laugh whenever you can. It’s easier that way.

My hero (and why) is ... my Aunt Brenda. She passed away from a seven-year battle with colon cancer nearly a decade ago. An eternal optimist, she inspired my love of vinyl, the occasional sass, had no fear and always told me when my Gemini alter ego was showing and needed to calm down. For my 16th birthday, she gifted me a gold peace sign pendant. I never take it off. It’s been around my neck for nearly 14 years. After she passed, my Uncle Lou gave me the diamond from her engagement ring. It now hangs with the pendant. She always used to say “Little niece, find you a job that pays to be a tourist.” Maybe that’ll be my next gig.

If I could do it all over again, I would ... relish the moments and take notes. In the past 10 years, I’ve lost three of the four major women in my life. Aunt Brenda, Nana and Grandma Liz all left this Earth within the same five years. Mom and I are still here, doing our best to breathe in and appreciate our time together. Everyone says not to take things for granted, but we don’t always listen. It’s not going to be around forever. Enjoy it while you’re here. Keep records of stories to tell. My grandpas, Buddy Butler and Lou Vassie, are a treasure at my house on holidays. Just try not to laugh at stories about riding a mule no one would buy down an unpaved Cemetery Road and ending up on an Army base in Hawaii. They don’t make them the way they used to.

The part of my job I could do without is ... when technology goes wrong. There’s a never-ending apocalyptic battle between required apps working on Mozilla versus Internet Explorer (I know, right). Isn’t the computer supposed to make our lives smarter instead of harder?

The one thing I always carry with me is ... my phone. Maybe I should rethink this one.

Best meal I ever had was ... this is a tie. Maybe not “the best,” but definitely the two of the most memorable. First, a basic Irish meal of soup and brown bread was had at the King’s Head in Galway, not the kind of place you find in the U.S. The King’s Head was established in 1649 and was supposedly payment the executioner received after he axed Britain’s King Charles I. Second, I dined at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, the place that served as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution. Dark and dimly lit with family-style seating, it felt like we were strategizing the colonial defense.

At the top of my bucket list is ... a long vacation to anywhere in the Caribbean with a floating bungalow. Maybe that’ll inspire me to put my phone on silent.

Group pushes Kentucky to spend additional $1B on education by 2026
 Aaron Mudd  / 

After a decade of plummeting investment in Kentucky’s public schools, colleges and universities, an advocacy group has a big request for lawmakers – step up spending on early childhood, K-12 and higher education by $1 billion.

“We can’t continue to disinvest in education,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

The group last month unveiled a funding framework to invest in K-12 priorities like all-day kindergarten, school transportation costs, child care assistance and millions more in the state’s performance funding model for postsecondary education.

Under the Prichard Committee’s plan, spending increases would begin in fiscal year 2021 and escalate through fiscal year 2026.

Additional investments are needed, according to the committee, to roll back a decade of state budget cuts and investments in education that the group said haven’t kept up with the cost of inflation.

Since 2008, state spending on Kentucky’s public colleges and universities have plunged by 33 percent, according to the group. That forces low-income students, many of whom are first-generation college students, to shoulder a growing burden, the group said.

Additionally, with Kentucky ranking among the poorest states in the country, state spending per student has fallen by 12 percent since 2008, the group said.

The group said rolling back those declines starts with millions more in spending on early childhood education. Specifically, it’s asking for $251 million in additional funding to provide child care assistance to 23,000 children in low-income families and another $80 million for preschool supports.

When students start kindergarten unprepared to learn, they’re at risk of falling behind, and Ramsey said Kentucky has lagged in that area.

“We’ve lost a lot of ground on enrollment in high-quality early childhood programs,” she said.

When it comes to kindergarten, the Prichard Committee is pushing for $140 million to cover the cost of full-day programs for schools. Currently, local districts have to foot the bill if they want to offer daylong kindergarten programs.

The group is calling for another $162 million to fund school transportation, which was slashed in the 2018-20 budget. That cost produces some of the most out of balance expenses for school districts in Kentucky, Ramsey said, especially geographically larger counties.

With fundings for teacher training eliminated altogether during the last budget cycle, the Prichard Committee wants lawmakers to allot $58 million for a Fund for Teaching Excellence.

Ramsey said the fund could be used to immediately support professional learning to increase the effectiveness of teaching and thus classroom learning – particularly in strategic areas like third-grade reading and math proficiency.

Rounding out its request from state lawmakers, an additional $311 would be used to fully fund the state’s performance funding model for public colleges and universities. Separately, $30 million would go toward expanding need-based aid and offer 18,000 more College Access Program grants to low-income students.

With other states putting money back into higher education, including Tennessee, Ramsey pitched the Prichard’s Committee framework as an achievable way to keep Kentucky competitive and to lift communities out of poverty.

“This is a plan to support Kentucky’s future,” Ramsey said.

– Read the Prichard Committee’s plan in its entirety with this article at bgdailynews.com.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdaily news.com.