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Paul files for re-election; doesn’t rule out 2024 presidential run

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, said Tuesday he has formally filed for reelection for a third term in the U.S. Senate.

In an interview with the Daily News, Paul said he wants to remain in the Senate but hasn’t ruled out another presidential run in 2024.

“I think it’s too early to know that,” Paul said of any presidential possibilities. “The focus right now is on this race in 2022. I have no definite plans to or not to run for president.”

Paul said his priorities if reelected to the Senate are to continue being “one of the lead voices of fiscal conservatism,” determining the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic and limiting wars in the world.

“The main reason that I got involved in politics is because I was worried government was getting too big, and I am still concerned about that,” Paul said. “It’s very important that we do not spend money we don’t have.

“We have also been very active in trying to get to the bottom of where this virus started,” he said. “There is a lot of evidence suggesting it came from the lab in (China). If Republicans can take over the Senate, we would have the ability to subpoena records that would indicate Dr. (Anthony) Fauci knew more about the origin of the virus and was covering it up.”

Paul said if it’s proven COVID-19 originated in a lab, he wants to make sure “it never happens again.”

While beginning his run for a third term, the senator also said he remains a strong advocate for term limits and will continue to do so – if they are for all members of government.

“I’m one of the original co-sponsors of the constitutional amendment to establish term limits,” Paul said. “The only way I would support term limits is if everyone had them. Otherwise, Kentucky would be giving up its influence at the expense of the rest.”

Amid rising COVID-19 infections, Paul said he’s against any kind of widespread mandates relating to the pandemic issued by the federal government.

“I think most medical decisions should be made between a patient and a doctor,” he said. “There needs to be a big public service announcement that there are treatments out there for COVID-19. Probably the best treatment would be to get monoclonal antibodies early on. The good news is omicron, while very infectious, is not very deadly. Hopefully, the virus will mutate to a milder form. Then it will most likely stay with us forever.”

Another area of focus for Paul is to “work across the aisle” in limiting wars. Specifically, he wants to block any further arms deals with Saudi Arabia because of its conflict with Yemen.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea to sell them any arms,” he said. “War should also be considered a last resort. It should be an all-out declaration by Congress.”

Paul’s likely Democratic challenger for his seat will be former state lawmaker Charles Booker of Louisville, who filed paperwork Nov. 3 to run in the Democratic primary.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.


News
FEMA, SBA offering help to renters in tornado zone

Help from federal agencies for those affected by the recent tornadoes may be concentrated on owners of damaged or destroyed real estate, but those who pay monthly rent are also eligible for assistance in the Kentucky counties declared federal disaster areas.

“Renters often don’t think they have the opportunity to apply for assistance, but they do,” said Troy York, media specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

York said help is available through FEMA grants and U.S. Small Business Administration loans. He encouraged renters who have suffered damage to come to FEMA’s disaster recovery center in Greenwood Mall to apply in person.

“We have people whose job is just to do the intake on applications,” York said.

Renters looking to apply for assistance must first apply to the SBA, York said.

“The initial application for FEMA assistance requires the SBA application,” he said. “If you don’t complete the SBA application, the process stops.

“A lot of people don’t like the word ‘loan’ and they’re thrown off because they don’t have a small business. But in the case of disasters, the SBA partners with FEMA.”

Tauheedah Mateen, public affairs specialist with the Small Business Administration, said the SBA offers home disaster loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged personal property, including automobiles.

Those loans are offered now at an interest rate of 1.483% and are available for all or a portion of that $40,000 maximum.

“Maybe your insurance policy falls short of what you need,” York said. “A loan can be a way to bridge the gap.”

York and Mateen said those applying for SBA loans don’t have to accept the loans. But application to the SBA is needed, they said, before applying for FEMA grants.

York said FEMA individual assistance grants can be used to pay for temporary housing. The initial rental grant is for a one- or two-month period and can be reviewed for further assistance.

In addition, renters may also qualify for grants under FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program for uninsured essential personal property losses and other disaster-related expenses.

Among the items covered under the FEMA grants are:

  • replacement or repair of necessary personal property such as furniture, appliances, clothing and school supplies.
  • replacement or repair of tools and other job-related equipment required by the self-employed.
  • primary vehicles.
  • uninsured or out-of-pocket medical, dental, child care, moving and storage expenses.

York emphasized that FEMA grants are designed to “fill in gaps,” not to “make you whole.”

“It gets you on the way to recovery,” he said. “The SBA has programs to get you further down the road.”

York said it’s important to bring documentation of losses and insurance coverage when applying for loans or grants.

He said the deadline to apply to FEMA and the SBA is Feb. 11. While he recommends applying in person, York said people can apply for assistance at the fema.gov website and on the disasterloanassistance.sba.gov website.

Those with questions about SBA loans may call 800-6559-2955 for assistance.

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


News
Report: Ky. lawmakers should scale back tax breaks, boost spending

Kentucky lawmakers are headed into their 2022 budget session flush with cash – including an extra $3.4 billion for the state’s two-year spending plan – according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a think tank that’s calling for an end to years of budget austerity.

“The discussion around Kentucky’s budget typically focuses on how the state cannot afford adequate investments in schools, child welfare, public health, libraries and more,” KCEP said in a report Monday. “That narrative often excludes the impact of proliferating tax breaks on what we can afford.”

Due in large part to federal coronavirus funds, Kentucky’s General Fund receipts grew by 10.9% in fiscal year 2021 – the highest annual growth rate in more than a quarter-century, according to the center. Actual revenues exceeded the estimate by more than $1.1 billion. That’s the largest in Kentucky’s history.

Kentucky’s budget forecast anticipates an even larger surplus at the end of the current fiscal year, and the state also has $1.1 billion in unspent American Rescue Plan Act dollars it can spend on pandemic recovery and remediation.

However, despite the billions in federal funds that have flowed into the state, it won’t go very far without reining in the many tax breaks lawmakers in Frankfort have granted over the years, KCEP said. Many of them go to special interests, diverting revenue that could go to baseline services like schools, colleges, child care and human services providers, KCEP said.

“We’ve been cutting these vital services for far too long,” Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said in a news release. “With historic revenues, there is no excuse not to pay our teachers, social workers and other state employees what they deserve or to better fund the public services that make us educated, healthy and safe. The legislature can recommit to a thriving, prosperous commonwealth with this budget.”

The center said that while the General Assembly kept spending last year mostly flat when it enacted a one-year state budget, at the same time it passed “more subsidies for corporations through a variety of tax breaks that will further erode the tax base in the future.”

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said they include an expansion of the film tax credit to $75 million starting in 2023, a significant increase in the cap on the historic preservation tax credit from $6 million to $100 million – including a special $6 million carve-out for the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville – and new credits for cryptocurrency mining companies.

The Office of the State Budget Director estimated the cost of these credits to be $161.5 million in fiscal year 2022 alone, KCEP said, with larger impacts expected in future years.

The state has also pledged up to $410 million of the surplus in subsidies for two battery production plants to be built by Ford and SK Innovation, KCEP said.

“Because of the way tax expenditures work, these programs receive priority funding over everything else that state government provides and pays for, including education, assistance for children and families and other important services,” the KCEP report said.

– The report can be read in full at kypolicy.org.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.


News
Crash injures two children, BG woman accused of not seeking medical care for them

Two children, ages 4 and 5, were found in a Bowling Green home with injuries apparently caused by an earlier car crash, and the alleged driver was arrested on suspicion of not seeking medical care for them.

Cinthia Rangel, 25, was arrested Monday by the Bowling Green Police Department on two counts of first-degree criminal abuse, leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid with serious physical injury and first-degree criminal mischief.

The investigation began when city police officers were dispatched to an abandoned 2010 Volkswagen Golf on Loop Street behind the Warren Central High School football field.

The vehicle appeared to have lost control on Loop Street, left the road into a ditch behind the football field and rolled through a fence.

“The vehicle had severe damage to the driver’s side and the front passenger windshield,” an arrest citation said. “There was also a significant amount of blood located in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, as well as the ... surrounding area around the vehicle.”

Police contacted the car’s registered owner, who told officers Rangel usually drives the car and has two children with her, the citation said.

Officers went to Rangel’s residence on Virginia Drive, where they made contact with her and found a 4-year-old boy lying on a couch.

The 4-year-old had a severe cut to the left side of his cheek extending from his mouth up to the base of his left ear, the citation said.

“The laceration made it visible to see the inside of the mouth/throat,” the citation said. “It was also apparent that the juvenile had what appeared to be a broken leg, and bruising/redness throughout the abdominal area, along with blood on the outside of his ears.”

Police also found a 5-year-old girl who had bruising on her chest and body, records said.

Rangel was questioned by police about the crash, and she said it occurred about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, roughly 90 minutes before police found the children, according to her citation.

Asked about obtaining medical assistance for the children, Rangel said she had traveled to TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital but was scared to go inside, telling officers she did not want to get in trouble, her citation said.

Rangel was taken into custody. The children were transported to Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.


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