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A public hearing on Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program will be held Tuesday, June 28 in Bowling Green.

The leader of an Owensboro-based community development group sees positives and negatives in  Bevin’s proposal. 

Jiten Shah is executive director of Green River Area Development District and is on the board of Kentucky Voices for Health.

He’s concerned about Bevin’s plan to have Medicaid recipients pay a monthly premium.

“I do have some concerns, you know especially, the recipients would have to have a monthly premium. You know, since the Medicaid expansion is serving the low income population for the insurance, and many of them may not be able to afford monthly payments of $1 all the way up to $15  a month.”

Shah said even relatively small payments could be difficult for many low-income people already struggling to make ends meet.

Kentucky Supreme Court to Take Up Higher Education Funding Case

46 minutes ago
Kentucky Office of the Courts

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities.

The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for Aug. 18.

Bevin reduced allotments to state colleges and universities by nearly $18 million without the approval of the state legislature. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, saying Bevin overstepped his authority. A state judge sided with Bevin last month.

Beshear appealed that decision. Normally the case would first go to the state Court of Appeals. But Beshear asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and skip the appeals court process. Bevin opposed Beshear's request, saying the case was not of "great and immediate public importance."

The court granted Beshear's request Monday.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Members of the Western Kentucky University presidential search committee are laying out a timeline of next steps in the hiring process.

The executive search firm helping identify candidates will meet later this summer with WKU faculty, staff, and student groups.

Search committee members have been looking through the first draft of a profile containing input from those on and around the school’s campus.

Search committee chairman Dr. Phillip Bale says a big part of that draft is a list of the characteristics those groups want to see in the school’s next leader.

“I don’t there’s a person that exists in the world who has all them, so part of our charge, as it were, will be to figure out what is most important.”

Creative Commons

State prisons are at capacity, county jails are overcrowded and the state is recommending transferring about 1,600 inmates to private prisons that have been shuttered for the past several years.

Officials ended the state’s last private prison contract in 2013, partly as a cost savings measure and also in response to scandals at privately owned prisons in the state.

John Tilley, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said that it was “critical” that the Kentucky consider reopening the private prisons. He said past efforts to reduce the prison population haven’t panned out.

“Parole grant rates are not where we thought they would be,” Tilley said. “Revocations of those on parole are higher than they were projected. And generally there’s so much discretion built into the court system.”

Tilley said that many judges throughout the state haven’t bought into prison reforms, instead sentencing convicted criminals to incarceration over diversion or treatment programs that would keep people out of prison.

Sen. Rand Paul stopped at a Louisville Goodwill on Friday to talk about ways to help people with criminal records return to the workforce.

Paul has made criminal justice reform a key initiative during his time in Washington, though the Senate hasn’t passed any major proposals.

Goodwill operates programs that help people with criminal records enter the workforce. On Friday Goodwill and KentuckianaWorks presented their “Re-Entry By Design” program, which helps people on probation or parole put together resumes, prepare for interviews and ultimately find a job.

At the event, Paul said family values-oriented Republicans should logically support legislation that helps people find work despite their criminal records.

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a $402 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fifty-one-percent of the budget is funded by student tuition and fees. The new spending plan includes a 4.5 percent tuition increase, and factors in a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding.

Student regent Jay Todd Richey cast the lone vote against the budget. In a prepared statement read before the vote, the Glasgow native said he couldn’t support certain parts of the plan, including a reduction in funding for the Track and Field program.

Speaking to reporters after the budget was passed 8-1, Rickey said many WKU students believe the burden of decreased state funding for higher education isn’t being shouldered evenly.

GM

Kentucky officials say General Motors Corp. plans to invest $290 million at the automaker's Corvette plant in Bowling Green.

The company's North American manufacturing manager, Arvin Jones, said Friday the investment includes technology upgrades to improve the plant's manufacturing process. It could also create as many as 270 new jobs.

The investment announcement was made by Gov. Matt Bevin's office in Frankfort.

Bevin's office says the investment includes a $153 million project aimed at improving vehicle assembly line processes. The latest investment follows a series of upgrades and expansions in recent years at the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green.

To encourage the investment, Kentucky officials recently gave preliminary approval for GM to qualify for up to $3 million in tax incentives, based on the level of investment and job creation.

flickr/creative common/Rand Snyderman

Appalachian music patriarch Ralph Stanley, who helped expand and popularize the bluegrass sound, has died. He was 89.

His publicist, Kirt Webster, says Stanley died Thursday.

Stanley was born and raised in southwest Virginia. He and brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. The brothers fused Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe's rapid rhythms with the mountain folk of groups such as the Carter Family, and added a distinctive three-part harmony. Carter Stanley died of liver disease in 1966.

Ralph Stanley's a cappella dirge "O Death" from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" movie soundtrack introduced him to a new generation of fans in 2000.

He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000 and won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 2002.

Ryland Barton

The latest legal challenge against Gov. Matt Bevin had its first hearing Thursday — Attorney General Andy Beshear is attempting to join a lawsuit contesting Bevin’s reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board, which manages retirement funds for state workers.

Beshear is also trying to challenge Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees in the same move, arguing that both reorganizations should be tried at the same time.

During the hearing, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard voiced appreciation of the governor’s desire to fix problems, but cautioned against overstepping legal bounds.

“It’s incumbent on the governor to take action, to do something about, to take leadership on,” Shephard said. “But it’s also important that the methods that are used are in compliance with the statutes and with the Constitution.

WKU

A legal scholar at Western Kentucky University says Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action is good for the country’s college classrooms.  

The high court upheld the affirmative action program at the University of Texas.

WKU History Professor Patricia Minter says having a diverse student body creates a better learning environment for everyone.

“As much as we empathize with the struggles of others, we sometimes need to let groups and people speak for themselves about their own lived experience.”

Opponents of affirmative action programs have argued that factors like race, ethnicity, and gender shouldn’t factor into university admissions policies.

Minter says Thursday’s high court ruling isn’t necessarily the last Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action. She says the country’s racial and ethnic makeup is rapidly changing, and those factors could lead to future court challenges.

You can hear Minter’s conversation with WKU Public Radio by clicking on the “Listen” button above.

Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky community college system reassigned its top attorney earlier this month to a newly created “special assistant” position soon after wrapping up a monthslong investigation of his office behavior.

J. Campbell Cantrill III will serve as “special assistant to the president for policy review and revision” until he retires next summer, according to a settlement reached with the Kentucky Community & Technical College System on June 1. He will continue to draw the $137,314 annual salary he received as general counsel.

Cantrill, who served as KCTCS’ legal chief since 2008, had been placed on administrative leave with pay and barred from the system’s headquarters in Versailles and its email system on Feb. 26. In a letter sent to him that day by KCTCS President Jay Box, Cantrill was told he was being investigated for possible violations of system policies, including those that cover harassment, ethical values and use of information technology.

The letter cited “multiple reports” of violations by Cantrill but did not provide any details. KCTCS hired an outside attorney, Keith Moorman of Frost Brown Todd in Lexington, to investigate the matter.

flicker/creative commons/Pascal Gaudette

It's almost impossible not to play with a kitten, but a scratch from one could lead to trouble.

According to Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Iass El Lakkis of The Medical Center in Bowling Green, Cat Scratch Fever is usually mild but, in rare cases, can lead to hospitalization for eye problems, disorientation or liver infection. "Mostly patients will have skin swelling, small bumps or redness, usually three to ten days after they're exposed," he said.

More often than not, though, Cat Scratch Fever is treated with simple antibiotics and lingers for about three to four weeks.

John Yarmuth is sitting down on the job.  
 
 The Third District Democrat is participating in a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House in an effort to force the Republican majority to skip a week long recess and take up gun control legislation.  
 
Yarmuth says between 50 to 75 democrats are participating in the sit-in that prompted the Speaker Pro Tem to call the chamber out of order.

He says as the minority, this is the only option available to them to force action on the legislation.  
 
Yarmuth says the plans for the sit in started Monday night and wrapped up Tuesday afternoon. 

J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for abolishing and then reinstating the boards of trustees of both the University of Louisville and Kentucky Retirement Systems, the state agency that manages the pensions of most state employees.

Bevin appointed new members and changed the number of seats on each panel. In both cases, Bevin said the moves were made to achieve a “fresh start.”

Bevin has reorganized several boards in recent months, including the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, Kentucky Racing Commission and the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission.

A group of labor unions and injured workers have sued Bevin for his overhaul of the workers’ compensation board, which nominates administrative law judges to oversee workers’ compensation cases.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

At a news conference Wednesday morning in Frankfort, Gov. Matt Bevin announced his much-anticipated plan to remake the state’s expanded Medicaid system.

Under the plan, which would require federal approval, Kentuckians who earn between 34 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty line would be required to pay fixed premiums for the insurance. The premiums will range from $1 to $15 for “able-bodied adults,” according to Mark Birdwhistell, University of Kentucky HealthCare’s vice president for administration and external affairs who is heading up the state’s waiver process

Bevin said requiring users to pay premiums would give them “dignity and respect.”

Bevin also said the changes would save the state $2.2 billion.

The program will be called Kentucky H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health.”

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