Cheryl Beckley

Americana artist Caroline Spence and singer-songwriter Eva Ross played Lost River Sessions LIVE! on Thursday night at the Capitol Arts Center in downtown Bowling Green. Lost River Sessions LIVE! is made possible by Mike Simpson, the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau and WKU Public Broadcasting.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

As the dust settles on the main part of the legislative session, the Republican-led General Assembly has passed most of its priorities.

A handful of bills approved in early January have already been signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin. Those include a “right-to-work” law, a repeal of the prevailing wage on public works projects, and anti-abortion legislation.

But a flood of bills — including the authorization of charter schools in Kentucky and REAL ID legislation — passed at the end of session still await the governor’s signature.

Bevin now has a 10-day period to review legislation and either veto bills, sign them into law or ignore them — another way to make them law. The legislature will return on March 29 and 30 for two final working days, during which they will likely give approval to even more bills that haven’t passed yet.

Alan Warren

The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro has received an extensive collection of bluegrass CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, books and recorded radio shows.

The thousands of items are from Colorado judge H. Conway Gandy, who died two years ago.

Gandy never lived in the Kentucky, but his passion for the state’s signature music led him to make it available to others. One way he shared his passion was through a radio show he created.

Savannah Hall is the curator at the bluegrass museum in Owensboro. She said the collection includes recordings of Gandy’s broadcasts about his beloved bluegrass music.

“His radio show ‘Where It All Began’ delved into the roots of bluegrass music and how bluegrass comes from a country background, a jazz background, blues. So the collection he gave us includes all of that music as well.”

Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet is planning improvements to some of the state’s aging roads and bridges. There are 1,157 structurally deficient bridges according to a new report by The American Society of Civil Engineers.

KYTC spokesperson Ryan Watts said he wasn’t surprised by the report’s findings on the state’s infrastructure needs. The cabinet has plans in place to update and fix those structurally deficient bridges. Watts said Kentucky shares the national burden of addressing the needs of an aging transportation system with limited funds.

“Kentucky’s roads and bridges are safe, but they require significant funding to maintain operability,” Watts said.

A Laurel County jury has convicted Constable Bobby Joe Smith of reckless homicide and recommended that he serve a year in prison.

Smith, who had no formal law enforcement training, shot an unarmed man in a convenience store last March while trying to serve a warrant.

Smith had been indicted for manslaughter, but the jury found him guilty Wednesday night of the lesser charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ incarceration. Smith is scheduled for final sentencing April 24.

An investigation last year by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WAVE 3 News focused on Smith’s case and detailed long-standing problems involving constables statewide. (Read “Kentucky Constables: Untrained And Unaccountable”)

Kentucky LRC

The state legislature has again approved a bill to bring the state into compliance with stricter identification card policies required by the federal government. Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed a similar version of the REAL ID bill last year but indicated he supports it this year.

The bill would create an enhanced driver’s license issued by the state Transportation Cabinet instead of county clerks offices.

Those who opt out of the new license would need additional ID like a passport to board domestic air flights and enter military bases.

Creative Commons

UPDATE 9:31 p.m.: The Kentucky House has approved legislation authorizing charter schools in the state. The final vote was 53-43.

After weeks of not moving, the legislation emerged in a legislative committee Wednesday, passed out of the Senate in the afternoon and the House in the evening.

House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins objected to the quick pace of the debate.

“For something that is this major, for the public policy of the commonwealth of Kentucky, I think that’s bad business,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s the way we’ve done it on other major reform that has been successful here in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Kentucky Department of Education

The Unbridled Learning accountability system for Kentucky’s public schools is on the way out.  For the past year, education leaders have been crafting a new model to measure student proficiency. 

Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt says the new system will go beyond test scores and will focus on the ‘whole’ child.

"Historically, we've been more focused on math and reading," Pruitt told WKU Public Radio.  "We know that for a student to leave the school system and be a contributing member of society, it's way more than just math and reading."

Pruitt says access to fine arts, health and physical education, and civics are all necessary for students to receive a quality education.  The new system also seeks to provide minority and low-income students greater access to advanced coursework, and career and technical experience for all students.

Kentucky Senate Scales Back Attorney General Bill

Mar 15, 2017
LRC Public Information

A bill that would take away some powers from the attorney general and give them to the governor likely will not pass this session.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Whitney Westerfield said he will not consider a proposal that would give the governor the exclusive authority to represent the state in some civil lawsuits. Instead, he said the Senate will likely consider a bill later this month to let the governor represent the state in a lawsuit only if the attorney general declines to do so.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has said he will not defend a recently enacted law that bans all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. He is defending a law requiring women seeking an abortion to first receive an ultrasound, but Republicans have criticized him for not offering a more robust defense.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Lora Zibman

The new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that 24 million Americans would be without health insurance in the next 10 years if the current Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is approved. 

Many residents of Kentucky are carefully watching to see how they might be affected. About 400,000 Kentucky residents who previously did not have health insurance gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Robin Shank of Glasgow is one of them.

“I’m concerned about the ACA. I have a very bad heart condition. I went 25 years without medical insurance. It about broke me. The ACA saved my life," said Shank. "If they take it away, it’s going to kill me. It’s going to drive my family into bankruptcy and then I’ll die. That’s why I’m concerned.”

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Cheryl Beckley

Photo Gallery: Caroline Spence and Eva Ross Play LRS LIVE!

Americana artist Caroline Spence and singer-songwriter Eva Ross played Lost River Sessions LIVE! on Thursday night at the Capitol Arts Center in downtown Bowling Green. Lost River Sessions LIVE! is made possible by Mike Simpson, the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau and WKU Public Broadcasting.

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