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Kentucky earns a “D” grade for political participation among women in a recently released report, but the state’s overall results show a complex landscape.

Kentucky ranks 46th out of 50 states for its number of women holding elected office in the state, according to the Status of Women report released by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

But women in the state take advantage of voting rights more than men, the study said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's administration is offering more than 2,000 state workers to apply for buyouts.

Letters detailing the offers were sent out last week, but weren't expected to reach the affected workers until Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources said details about the packages and a breakdown of how many buyouts are being sought by the state agency wouldn't be available until sometime Tuesday.

The deadline to apply for the buyouts is July 17.

Haslam has sought more flexibility in the rules of employment for state workers since coming into office in 2011.

But lawmakers pushed back at his most recent proposal to do away with longevity bonuses, and instead only approved the change for new hires.

KSP

The search for a missing Monroe County 2 year old girl and her alleged abductor ended Monday afternoon close to where it began more than a week ago.

Anthony Barbour was arrested at 1:16 pm at the Temple Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Monroe County. An hour later Kentucky State Police located the body of 2 year old Laynee Wallace in an area close to where she was originally reported missing May 17th.

An autopsy will be performed this week in Louisville.

State Police worked with local, federal and other agencies in the investigation. Detective Adam Morgan with the State Police Bowling Green post will be the lead investigator.

Barbour's vehicle, a red 2000 Pontiac Sunfire, was located last Tuesday evening abandoned in a field. Barbour was considered armed and dangerous during the search.

Laynee Wallace was reported missing from her home on East Temple Hill Road in Monroe County Sunday May 17. State Police were notified two days later. The 25 year old Barbour was identified as the boyfriend of the little girl's biological mother.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

A federal judge in Colorado has ruled the federal government should have taken the indirect environmental effects of expanding the Colowyo and Trapper coal mines into account before issuing a permit.

These “indirect effects” include the environmental toll of burning the coal in power plants. But because of differences in the way western and eastern coal mines are regulated, it’s hard to say what effect, if any, this ruling could have on Appalachian mines.

In the west, most of the coal is on federal lands. So as part of the permitting process, coal companies have to get approval from the Office of Surface Mining and the Secretary of the Interior. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the federal government is required to analyze the environmental impacts of mining.

But NEPA only applies to the federal government, not to states, and Kentucky has been delegated the authority to manage the commonwealth’s coal mining by the federal government.

“To say it’s apples to oranges, it’s not even that,” said Jeremy Nichols of Wild Earth Guardians, the environmental group that sued OSM over its decision to grant the permits to the Colowyo and Trapper mines. “It’s like apples to carrots. The state permitting processes are very different. And even though there’s some environmental accountability in place, it’s not as explicit as it is under the federal law.”

A ceremony will be held on this Memorial Day in Frankfort to dedicate a new site honoring members of the Kentucky National Guard and Air National Guard who have died in the line of duty.

National guard Spokesman David Altom says the centerpiece of the memorial is a bronze statue of Daniel Boone.

“He’s standing guard in front of this giant slab of granite in the shape of the state of Kentucky with the names of our fallen soldiers from the past 100 years," explains Altom.  "It’s unique to anything I’ve seen in Kentucky, and I’d say it’s almost as beautiful as anything you’d see in Washington, D.C.”

Altom says more than 230 members of the Guard have died in the line of duty since 1912.

The memorial was funded by private donors, corporate grants and an appropriation from the legislature.

The dedication ceremony is at 2:00 pm Monday at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. It’s open to the public.

Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith has been acquitted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Franklin County jury took 10 minutes to acquit the Hazard republican on Tuesday following a day-long trial. They did convict him of speeding and fined him $40.

Smith was arrested Jan. 6, the first day of the 2015 legislative session. A state trooper testified Smith smelled of alcohol and that he failed two field sobriety tests. Smith refused to take a breath test.

Smith's defense attorneys played security camera footage from the jail, showing the jury Smith walked without assistance. A convenience store clerk testified that Smith did not appear intoxicated earlier that night.

Smith's attorneys argued earlier this year the charges should be dropped because the state constitution says lawmakers cannot be arrested while the legislature is in session. They later withdrew that request.

Nearly two years have passed since the ambush-style murder of a Bardstown police officer and still no one has been arrested. 

Police are hoping a new video plea from Jason Ellis’ wife will provide fresh leads in the case.  In an online video, Amy Ellis says her family needs closure.

"His family, our two sons, his wonderful friends and I, cannot heal without knowing who and why he was taken from us by this senseless murder," Amy says.  "Someone somewhere can come forward.  This is my plea.  Do not hide in the dark shadows any longer.  Have the courage to help end this horror and show that justice can prevail."

Ellis, a 33-year-old police officer was gunned down May 25, 2013 as he was heading home after his shift.  He had stopped to remove tree limbs that had been placed on a Nelson County highway exit ramp. 

The reward in the case now exceeds $185,000.

This week, Kentucky’s labor cabinet announced that the state’s exports are up by 11 percent this year, but some are worried that in the long run, the strong U.S. dollar could squelch demand for Kentucky goods.

There’s been a lot of good news for the Kentucky economy lately: the manufacturing sector added 1,100 jobs in April, Corvette announced an expansion of its factory in Bowling Green and and the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, the lowest it’s been in 15 years.

However, State Office of Employment and Training Economist Manoj Shanker warns that continued strength of the U.S. dollar makes it difficult for countries to afford Kentucky-made goods.

“What’s helped us really, the reason we’re doing all these exports is because energy costs are low, which means the cost of making goods is lower in Kentucky and in the U.S. but what hurts us is that the dollar is strong so it’s more difficult to export," explains Shanker.

While Kentucky and the U.S. economy have rallied since the Great Recession, Shanker says much of the rest of the world is still struggling to catch up.  This phenomenon has led to a trade deficit in the United States that has grown to $51.4 billion according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Kentucky Raising Pay for Corrections Officers

May 22, 2015

Kentucky is increasing pay for corrections officers and hazardous duty staff in an attempt to curb high turnover rates. 

Governor Steve Beshear has approved the plan to give raises and move hazardous duty, non-security staff to 40-hour work weeks. 

A state Personnel Cabinet review showed that the state's corrections officers and hazardous duty workers were paid at below-market rates compared with nearby states.  A release from the state Department of Corrections says that has led to high turnover. 

Starting salaries for corrections officers will be increased by 13 percent, from $23,346 to $26,400 annually.  It includes higher increases for sergeants, lieutenants and captains. 

Hazardous duty, non-security staff will be converted to a 40-hour work week from a 37.5-hour schedule, meaning they will receive a nearly 7 percent raise.

Six candidates are under consideration to be the next Glasgow Police Chief.

The candidates were selected by a search committee from a pool of 20 applications. Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty said in a news release that background checks will be conducted, and the committee will contact the candidates’ references.

If no problems arise, the six candidates will be brought in for interviews.

The candidate pool contains both in-state and out-of-state candidates. Doty is asking Glasgow residents to submit written input on the qualities they would like to see in the next police chief by the close of business on Friday, May 29.

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