News

Judge Rules Bevin Can Cut College, University Budgets

May 19, 2016
WFPL News

A Kentucky judge has ruled Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the approval of the state legislature.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate says two state laws allow Bevin to reduce allotments for public colleges and universities. Wingate ruled while the governor’s powers are usually confined to the state constitution, the legislature can give the governor additional powers by passing laws. He said Bevin’s cuts of nearly $18 million to colleges and universities this year are not improper.

Bevin proposed the cuts in January. The state legislature did not approve them. Bevin ordered the cuts anyway. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him.

Wingate ordered Bevin to leave the $18 million alone until the case has been resolved.

In a statement, Beshear said his office would appeal.

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says he supports the idea of having women register for a potential military draft.

The Courier-Journal reports Republican Mitch McConnell said he thinks it would be appropriate, given that women in the military are already performing many different functions.

The Selective Service System currently registers men ages 18 to 25 only.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have recently passed defense policy bills that include  a registration requirement for women.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said adding women to the Selective Service list would help achieve gender equality for women in the military.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is questioning the need for a special legislative session related to the bathroom use of transgender public school students.

Some Republican state lawmakers have called for a special session after a directive issued by President Barack Obama's administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that it's unclear what the strategy or purpose of a special session would be. GOP lawmakers have engaged in a letter-writing campaign since the Obama directive was issued, demanding that the state join lawsuits challenging their implementation.

A Tennessee  bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates was withdrawn in the waning days of the legislative session last month.

Lisa Autry

The Bowling Green Police Department is preparing to outfit its officers with body cameras. 

In a presentation to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Chief Doug Hawkins said agencies that already use body cameras have seen a reduction in complaints against officers.

"If you know everything we're doing is being recorded, you tend to behave a little better and so does the police officer.  Not that we have a lot of complaints, but we think this will mitigate complaints," Hawkins told the audience. "When a citizen has a justifiable complaint, we're going to capture that, as well."

Hawkins said the department is investing in body cameras now because prices have dropped and the technology has improved. 

Bowling Green Police plan to purchase 95 body cameras at a cost of nearly $160,000. 

The cameras will be deployed by the end of the year.

A couple that served as the lead plaintiffs in one of the court cases that prompted last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is protesting a decision by the Archdiocese of Louisville to reject parts of their proposed gravestone design.

Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon have been together for 30 years and married in 2004 in Canada. They identify as lifelong practicing Catholics, and last fall, they submitted a proposed headstone design for a joint plot in Louisville’s Saint Michael Cemetery.

The design includes Bourke and De Leon’s names and dates of birth. It also includes an image of a cross, wedding rings and the United States Supreme Court building.

“It means a lot to me to be buried in a Catholic cemetery,” Bourke said. “Saint Michael’s is a stone’s throw from both my grandparents’ homes, and the really important thing is that my parents have cemetery plots they’ve purchased there.”

LRC Public Information

Two longtime state representatives were defeated in yesterday’s primary election, and a newcomer defeated a longtime Louisville Metro Councilman in another state House race.

Rep. Tom Riner, a Democrat from Louisville, was ousted by former Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, who criticized the 35-year incumbent for not being a “real Democrat.”

“The vote tonight says to me that District 41, which is 62 percent women, want a woman to represent them in Frankfort,” Scott said in a phone interview with WFPL.

Scott has no Republican challengers in the general election. She is the first African-American woman elected to the General Assembly since Eleanor Jordan, who left office in 2000.

“For them to elect me as the first black woman in Frankfort in nearly 20 years also says that people realize that this is the 21st Century, and it’s time to move forward and move forward together,” Scott said.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

In what appears to be a photo finish, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has unofficially won Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary. The race was so close that Clinton will split the state’s 55 delegates with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Although the Associated Press said the race was “too close to call” as of early Wednesday morning, state election officials say all counties have reported completely.

Clinton took 46.76 percent of the vote with 212,550 votes, while Sanders took 46.33 percent with 210,626 votes.

Sanders swept coal country in Eastern Kentucky by wide margins, but Clinton took the populous metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.

With another state in the win column, Clinton would stymie some of Sanders’ momentum late in the primary season. Sanders has won seven of the previous 12 primary contests despite trailing in the delegate count with a narrow path to victory.

James Comer Wins 1st U.S. House District GOP Primary

May 17, 2016
Twitter

James Comer has won the Republican nomination in Kentucky 1st Congressional District one year after a heartbreakingly close loss in the GOP primary for governor.

Comer wants to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, who has held the seat since 1995. He defeated Michael Pape, Whitfield's district director for two decades, and Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts. Miles A. Caughey Jr. finished fourth.

After losing the nomination for governor by just 83 votes last year, Comer said he planned to return to his farm in Tompkinsville. But when Whitfield announced his retirement, it was an opportunity for Comer to capitalize on his immense popularity in the 1st District.

Comer will face Democrat Sam Gaskins in the November election.

Paul (photo provided) Gray (Jim Gray for US Senate)

Kentucky's November U.S. Senate matchup is set.

Sen. Rand Paul has secured the Republican nomination in his pursuit of a second term while Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has secured the Democratic nod. 

The Kentucky Republican defeated his two challengers -- James Gould and Steven Slaughter -- while Gray won out against six underfunded Democratic opponents.  

Paul juggled dual campaigns for the White House and re-election to the Senate until early this year, when he ended his struggling presidential bid. 

Earlier today, Paul said it's basically the "patriotic duty" of Kentuckians to vote against against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton because of her comments about coal.  Paul's comments are more evidence that Kentucky Republicans plan to use Clinton's coal-related remarks against Democratic candidates in the fall general election.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

A Kentucky attorney general's advisory opinion says the governor isn't allowed to remove a trustee from the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems before the trustee's term has expired.

The opinion was requested by the systems' executive director, William A. Thielen, after Gov. Matt Bevin removed board Chairman Thomas K. Elliott last month. Elliott's term didn't expire until 2019. After removing Elliott, Bevin appointed Madisonville dermatologist William F. Smith to replace him.

The attorney general's opinion, issued Tuesday, also said Smith isn't qualified as a professional with 10 years of experience in public or private finances.

Bevin's press secretary, Amanda Stamper, said in a news release that the governor's office believes Smith is qualified to serve on the board. The release also said the attorney general's opinion differs from state Supreme Court precedent and a previous attorney general's opinion.

Lisa Autry

The last commercial flight from Bowling Green was 44 years ago, but that’s about to change. 

The Bowling Green-Warren County regional airport announced Tuesday that Contour Airlines will begin offering service to Atlanta and Destin, Florida. 

Airport Manager Rob Barnett says both business and leisure travelers will benefit.

"The corporate traveler will truly benefit because of the cost savings and time savings through Atlanta, and of course, we're all going to benefit from the Destin flight because we all like to go to Destin at a reasonable cost and keep ourselves from being in a car 16 hours round trip," Barnett told WKU Public Radio.

The flights are expected to start the first week of August.  Tennessee-based Contour will offer service year-round, seven days a week to Atlanta.  Seasonal flights to Destin will be available once a week from April to October.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Polls are still open in the Kentucky primary election until 6 o’clock. Voter turnout is expected to be low and rain across the state probably didn’t help get people out to the polls.

It’s been a quiet day at Morton Middle School in Lexington. Local election official David Cupps says Republican turnout was low at his polling location — possibly because Republicans already voted for president in March.

“It does look like Republican turnout is lighter than Democratic turnout and it was very slow first thing this morning, so the rain probably did cut down on the turnout,” he said.

Cupps said he still expected his location’s participation rate to be higher than the statewide prediction of 20 percent.

Kentuckians go to the polls Tuesday to choose their Democratic presidential nominee, major-party candidates for U.S. Senate and House, and nominees for multiple state House and Senate races.

Before you head out to the polls, here’s what you should know:

When and where can I vote?

Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m. You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

How long will I have to stand in line?

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she expects 20 percent of the state’s more than 3.2 million registered voters to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary elections. Grimes says the absence of a Republican presidential race will likely drive down turnout on the GOP side. The state party held a presidential caucus in March, which Donald Trump won easily.

Who am I voting for?

In the federal races: Democratic Presidential Primary, Republican Senate Primary, Democratic Senate Primary, and all six Congressional Districts.

A detailed guide to the 2016 federal elections is right here.

When will I know who won?

Statewide results should start rolling in a little after 6 p.m. central, when polls in the western part of the state close. We’ll have live coverage on the air, and at wkyufm.org.

Midway University

The only women’s college in Kentucky will undergo a major transition this fall.

For the first time in nearly 170 years, Midway University will begin accepting men as full-time undergraduates with the fall semester.

Male students can apply to live in residence halls starting in Spring of 2017. Previously, men were accepted only in graduate or online programs.

The school’s board of trustees voted Monday to make the change.

University President John Marsden said the decision was made in order for the liberal arts university to remain viable.

Midway traces its roots back to 1847, when it was founded as the Kentucky Female Orphan School.

Polling Places Open on Kentucky's Primary Election Day

May 17, 2016
Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Polling places for the primary election have opened in Kentucky as light rain falls across much of the state.

The forecast called for widespread showers early Tuesday and scattered showers later in the day with high temperatures reaching to about 60 degrees.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has said she expects voter turnout to reach about 20 percent for the primary election. The ballot includes a host of local, state and federal races.

The top race for Democrats is presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republicans held a presidential caucus in March, which was won by Donald Trump.

Other major races on the ballot include seats for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the state House. Voters can cast ballots until 6 p.m. local time.

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