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A Republican state representative from Bullitt County has been accused of sexually abusing a girl in his church, among other misdeeds, in a new investigative report from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Louisville Public Media.

Rep. Dan Johnson, a preacher and freshman lawmaker from Mt. Washington, had yet to respond to the allegations as of noon Monday. A receptionist at his legislative office said he was not available.

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The backlog of untested rape kits in Kentucky has grown larger than the initial 3,000 discovered in a state audit in 2015. 

While testing has been completed on the original backlog, officials have uncovered 1,500 so-called boomerang kits.  Those are rape kits sent to the crime lab, not tested for various reasons, and then returned to law enforcement agencies.  The state recently received a nearly $3 million federal grant to examine those additional kits.

Benny Becker

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

Just a few feet from the garage door at the back of the room, there’s a vertical rock face. It’s all coal from the ground up at least ten feet. Coal here can be a reminder of the past — of the time when this land that the school sits on was blasted flat by miners; of times when coal jobs were plentiful here in eastern Kentucky.


Kentucky State Police

Kentucky State Police says trooper applications have increased since changes were made to its recruitment policy.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer quotes police spokesman Trooper Corey King in a Monday report as saying the number of people applying for trooper positions has risen since the policy was changed to help address a trooper shortage.

The Daily News of Bowling Green reported last month that the agency has over 800 sworn officers, 500 of whom are road troopers. Police recruitment branch commander Lt. Brad Arterburn said the agency is considered fully staffed with 1,070 sworn officers.

LBJ Library/public domain

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

A leader of Kentucky’s state senate says a “watered down” version of Gov. Matt Bevin’s pension proposal is being drafted but it would still shift future workers onto 401(k)-type retirement plans.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said he hopes the bill is revealed to the public before Christmas so it can be reviewed in advance of lawmakers’ return for the legislative session that begins on Jan. 2.

Gray Watson/creative commons

Kentucky lawmakers are once again considering changing the state’s net metering rules, which allow people to sell electric utilities the extra energy generated from household solar panels or windmills.

Currently, electric utilities are required to buy back excess energy produced by customers at the same price sold to customers. Kentucky lawmakers considered a bill earlier this year that would have allowed utilities to get approval to buy back the energy at lower rates.

Lisa Autry

Leaders in Barren County are deciding whether to join some other Kentucky communities in establishing a needle exchange

Under the program, intravenous drug users could anonymously swap dirty syringes for clean ones at the local health department.  The goal is to stop the spread of Hepatitis-C and HIV. 

Ron Lafferty heads the Barren River Drug Task Force.  He says the county has a problem with IV drug users injecting crystal meth and often leaving needles on roadsides or on playgrounds, creating a public safety threat.

NOAA

Residents of Bowling Green and Warren County will soon be able to get emergency alerts on their computer, land line phone or cell phone – or all of the above.

Warren County Emergency Management is launching a system called Alert Sense that can warn about situations like tornadoes, floods, hazardous materials or a missing person.

“We’re just really excited to roll this out because it adds that extra layer of security and protection for everybody in Warren County," said Melissa Moore, a spokesperson for emergency management. "Not everyone has a weather radio and a lot of people rely on our community outdoor warning sirens that you can’t always hear inside.”

J. Tyler Franklin

As a sexual harassment scandal continues to unfurl in the state legislature, two Republican lawmakers have filed a bill that would create a tip line to report wrongdoing and another wants to remove the accused former House Speaker from office.

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, stepped down from his leadership position last month amid revelations that he and three other Republican lawmakers secretly settled a sexual harassment complaint made by a staffer.

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