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A religious freedom law, similar to the one that has recently drawn national attention in Indiana, has been on the books in Kentucky for two years and is currently being cited in a lawsuit against the state.

The proprietors of Grant County’s “Ark Encounter” project are suing Tourism Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart and Gov. Steve Beshear for excluding the 500 foot-long Noah’s Ark replica from a tourism tax break.

The group Answers in Genesis says the state discriminated against the ministry under the Kentucky Religious Freedom Act by pulling a promised $18 million in tax incentives.

The state withdrew funding, saying that public dollars couldn’t be go to a project that hires employees based on religious background.

University of Kentucky Professor Scott Bauries says the religious freedom law allows the plaintiffs to argue that the state discriminated against them.

“Because the state of Kentucky seeks to hold them to a higher standard than what the ordinary anti-discrimination laws would hold them to and because it doesn’t seek to do that with any non-religious employers that it’s discriminating against them based on their religion," explains Bauries.

The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court.

Beshear Plays Both Sides of Gay Rights Debate

6 hours ago

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Kentucky's religious freedom law similar to one signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week should be clarified to include protections for the LGBT community.

But the governor of this conservative state is also asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, highlighting the peculiar politics facing some southern Democrats fighting to maintain power in a region awash with Republican votes.

Kentucky's law protects a person's right to act or refuse to act as long as it is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief. Beshear vetoed the law but the legislature overrode him.

Last week, Beshear through his attorneys told the U.S. Supreme Court that Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban does not discriminate because it prevents straight and gay people from marrying someone of the same sex.

Kentucky Argues Gay Marriage Ban Not Biased

9 hours ago

Governor Steve Beshear's administration is arguing in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that Kentucky's ban on gay marriage isn't discriminatory because it bars both gay and straight people from same-sex unions.

The brief argues that because Kentucky's law bars everyone from same-sex marriage, it isn't discriminatory and should be upheld.

Attorney Dan Canon, who represents six gay couples challenging Kentucky's gay marriage ban, told The Courier-Journal that the argument in the brief filed last week is "especially absurd."

Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said the governor would have no comment. He has said previously he favors a decision by the Supreme Court.

Justices will hear arguments on April 28 on state marriage bans from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

Lisa Autry

The city of Bowling Green is inching closer towards a deal regarding the future of the commercial wrap of the downtown parking garage.  More than $2 million in liens have been filed against Mills Family Realty, the owners of Hitcents Park Plaza, for unpaid construction costs. 

Meeting in special session Monday, city commissioners approved the concept of an agreement that would shift responsibility for the project from the city to the county.  The proposed deal would allow the county to negotiate an agreement with Mills Family Realty, contractors who claim they are owed money, and a new developer for the project. 

Talks have been underway for the owners of the Bowling Green Ballpark to take over development and operations of the wrap.

Update at 4:40 pm:

The crash site has been cleared and normal traffic flow has resumed.  

Original post:

We have a traffic advisory Monday afternoon for I-65 Southbound in Hart County.

The left lane is closed near Mile Point 61 just south of Munfordville (Exit 65) due to a Semi / RV crash.

Traffic is backed up in the left lane to Exit 65, where the construction zone split divides traffic into two separated lanes.

Motorists should choose the right lane at the split to avoid becoming stuck in the queue.  

Due to the constricted nature of the construction zone, clearing may take a couple of hours.

Motorists stopped in the left lane between the crash site and the split point at Exit 65 will not be able to continue south until the scene is clear.  

Delays are likely for both lanes as southbound motorists approach Exit 65.

Angel's Envy

International spirits company Bacardi Limited has made its entry into the booming bourbon market with the purchase, announced today, of a Louisville-based bourbon maker.

Bacardi is the new owner of Angel’s Share Brands. The company includes the popular Angel’s Envy bourbon, developed by the late Lincoln Henderson and his family. Henderson was a longtime master distiller for Brown-Forman Corporation.

Angel’s Envy is currently distilled off-site and aged in port wine barrels.

Indiana Governor: New Law 'Not About' Exclusion

Mar 30, 2015

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended the new state law that's garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians and said Sunday it wasn't a mistake to have enacted it.

Pence appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Since the Republican governor signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Already, consumer review service Angie's List has said it will suspend a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

Pence did not answer directly when asked at least six times whether under the law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. "This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach," he said. Asked again, he said, "Look, the issue here is still is tolerance a two-way street or not."

Sexual orientation is not covered under Indiana's civil rights law. Pence has said he "won't be pursuing that."

President Obama to visit Louisville on Thursday

Mar 30, 2015
White House

Update: 5:12 am

President Barack Obama will visit Louisville on Thursday for an event on the economy, the White House announced Monday.

The stop at Indatus will be Obama's first visit to Kentucky since 2011 when he went to Fort Campbell near the Tennessee border to greet soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

While Obama has not been in Kentucky for a few years, he has loomed large over the state's politics. Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell won a landslide victory in November based largely on tying his opponent to Obama. Polls routinely show about 60 percent of Kentucky voters disapprove of Obama as president.

Kentucky will be in the political spotlight again in November with one of the country's few governors' races in what is traditionally an off year for elections.

Former Lawmaker Asks for Trial to be Postponed

Mar 30, 2015
LRC Public Information

A former Kentucky lawmaker facing a bribery charge has asked that his trial be postponed following a guilty plea by a co-defendant.

Former state mine inspector Kelly Shortridge pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month to taking bribes from former lawmaker Keith Hall. The plea agreement said Shortridge, who worked for the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, took about $46,000 in bribes over two years from Hall, a coal mine owner who was also a state representative from Phelps.

The Appalachian News Express reports Hall's attorney, Brent Caldwell, filed a motion last week asking to reschedule the April 20 trial to a later date. Prosecutors have opposed the request.

Caldwell says he needs extra time to prepare after learning that prosecutors intend to call Shortridge to testify.

Comer to Announce Health Care Plan

Mar 30, 2015
Lisa Autry

Republican candidate for governor James Comer says he will reveal details of a health care plan on Monday that he says will move people off of Medicaid and into private insurance.

Kentucky was one of 28 states that decided to expand its Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. Nearly 400,000 people signed up for the expanded service, meaning about 25 percent of the state's population is now on Medicaid.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear says the expansion benefits the state by injecting billions of federal dollars into the economy and giving people access to health care, many of whom have never had insurance before. But Republicans worry about how much the state will have to pay for the expansion beginning in 2017.

The issue has become a focal point in the Republican primary for governor.

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