News

Flickr/Creative Commons/ U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Thousands of Kentucky residents have two months to look for work or job training to keep their food stamp benefits.  Anya Weber of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says food stamp recipients have until April 1 to comply with the new requirements.  

"Able-bodied adults without dependents will need to meet a 20-hour work or training requirement," says Weber. "This is going to affect approximately 17,500 able-bodied adults in eight counties."

Those counties are Bullitt, Daviess, Fayette, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, McCracken and Warren.

New federal rules impacting the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, went into effect Jan. 1.  Recipients affected by the changes were given a three-month grace period to find work or job training.

Weber said the changes will affect nearly 900 people in Warren County, more than 700 people in Hardin County and more than 600 people in Daviess County.

Abbey Oldham

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign.

The Bowling Green Republican released a statement to the media Wednesday morning announcing the move.

"Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over," Paul said in his statement. "I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The decision comes two days after Paul finished a distant fifth in the Iowa GOP Caucus.

The Republican Party of Kentucky is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul could run for both the White House and another U.S. Senate term at the same time.

Paul's move to quit the presidential race means he can concentrate on his Senate re-election effort. He faces two little-known Republican primary challengers. Seven Democrats are running for the seat, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

LRC Public Information

The state Senate on Tuesday approved striking from the budget a portion of the state’s contribution to Planned Parenthood, with the bill’s supporters pointing to the Louisville branch’s recent efforts to begin providing abortions.

The bill is largely symbolic. The state gets about $5.6 million in federal Title X funds, which are supposed to go to family planning and reproductive health programs. About $331,000 of that went to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. But in December, the Louisville Planned Parenthood branch opted out of Title X funding.

State Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville, said he introduced the bill in reaction to undercover videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

“Until more significant changes can be made at the federal level, we must do what we can to keep public funds from groups like Planned Parenthood, which callously profit from death,” Wise said.

Joe Corcoran

Bowling Green mayor Bruce Wilkerson is adding the title of college president to his resume.

Daymar College announced Wednesday that Wilkerson will lead their campus in Bowling Green.

He’ll continue as the city’s mayor.

The Owensboro-based school’s campus in Warren County had 214 students enrolled last year, and produced 133 graduates.

Wilkerson said he’ll focus on the quality of students, not quantity.

“Numbers aren’t the important part," the Bowling Green Mayor said. "Our focus will be on the individual student and making sure they have the opportunity to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves. We hope that in doing that, the reputation of Daymar will lead us to grow.”

Daymar’s reputation took a hit in 2014 when it was sued by then-Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway for alleged violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

Kentucky Lawmakers Form Bipartisan Automotive Caucus

Feb 3, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky lawmakers are banding together to promote the state's automotive industry.

Dozens of lawmakers from both political parties on Tuesday started an Automotive Caucus to work with an industry that officials say employs more than 136,500 people in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State ranks third nationally in car production and second in light truck production.

Caucus members have pledged to work with the automotive industry in coming years on such key issues as workforce training, tax policies and technology development. Auto manufacturers say they're especially interested in developing the next generation of manufacturing workers for their plants.

LRC Public Information

Kentucky jailers who don’t have a jail to run would have to file quarterly progress reports with their county fiscal courts under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

In 41 Kentucky counties, local jails have closed for budgetary or compliance reasons since the 1970s. All of those counties still have a jailer — a constitutionally required office in Kentucky — but many of those jailers don’t do much, according to a 2015 report from WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The bill passed the Republican-led Senate 32-5.

State Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah, proposed the bill, which would also require fiscal courts to outline no-jail jailers’ duties every year.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Adrian Sampson

State legislators are once again being called upon to allow casino gambling in Kentucky as a way to pump revenue into the ailing pension systems for public employees.

Expanded gaming has been pushed during legislative sessions for years as an answer to Kentucky’s financial woes, but it’s never gotten enough traction to pass.

That doesn’t mean the supporters will stop pushing. On Tuesday, Greater Louisville Inc. announced its support for a bill proposed by two Louisville state senators. In a news release, GLI noted that Kentucky loses tax revenue each year to casinos in bordering states.

“These are dollars that could be going toward our state deficit and our significant pension obligations,” GLI President Kent Oyler said in the news release.

Here’s what you should know about the new gambling bill:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s leader is hopeful the organization can soon resume providing abortions at its downtown Louisville clinic.

The Planned Parenthood chapter began providing abortions at the recently opened Louisville facility on Jan. 21, but Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration ordered it to cease providing abortion services on Friday. The administration said Planned Parenthood’s application for a license to perform abortions was deficient. The license was never formally issued.

What’s not immediately clear is what may happen if Planned Parenthood resolves the issues in the application indicated by the Bevin administration.

Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the Planned Parenthood chapter will work to address the issues that Bevin administration has cited.

Kentucky State Government

The leader of the Kentucky Youth Advocates is renewing his call for state lawmakers to pass an Earned Income Tax Credit.

Terry Brooks points out the federal government and 32 states offer the program.

The refundable credit is aimed at low-to-moderate working individuals and couples, and is based on income and number of children.

Brooks says the program has gained bipartisan support throughout the years.

“What I love about it from a political perspective is that the EITC was invented by Richard Nixon, and its three biggest fans were Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.”

Brooks says an Earned Income Tax Credit would be an effective tool in fighting poverty in the Bluegrass State.

A report issued by the Kentucky Youth Advocates last fall showed 26 percent of the state’s youth live in poverty.

“Unless, and until, we as a commonwealth begin to address that aspect of what it means to grow up in Kentucky, health outcomes, academic achievement outcomes, safety outcomes are all going to be tamped down,” Brooks said.

Erica Peterson

Kentucky’s latest quarterly coal data continues a trend of bad news for the state’s coal industry.

The report released Monday by the Energy and Environment Cabinet shows in the fourth quarter of 2015, the state’s coal production dropped by more than 20 percent from 2014 levels. This puts Kentucky coal production at the lowest its been since 1954. Eastern Kentucky took the largest hit, losing a quarter of its capacity between 2014 and 2015.

With the decreased coal production came layoffs. More than 3,200 coal miners were laid off last year, with 1,000 losing their jobs in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone. As of December 31, 2015, there were only about 8,400 working coal miners in Kentucky.

And it seems unlikely that the industry has bottomed out. The report noted that most of Kentucky’s coal — 85 percent — goes to generate electricity at power plants in the Southeast. Three percent of that went to coal plants that retired in 2015. Another 13 percent went to plants that have announced their plans to retire units before 2019.

Lisa Autry

An attorney for the father of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says a federal grand jury has subpoenaed him and two of his businesses for records relating to his daughter's political campaigns.

Grimes, a Democrat, was re-elected in November. She lost a race for U.S. Senate against Republican Mitch McConnell in 2014. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, has been heavily involved in her campaigns.

Attorney Guthrie True said the subpoenas were issued last week. Grimes' attorneys, David Guarnieri and Jason Blandford, confirmed the U.S. Attorney's Office has requested "certain documents" from Grimes' campaigns.

U.S. Attorney spokesman Kyle Edelen said he could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Grimes' attorneys said she was not the target of an inquiry. Lundergan's attorney said prosecutors indicated he wasn't either.

WFPL News

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky placed fifth in the Iowa Republican Caucuses on Monday, raising further questions about the viability of his presidential campaign and when he might divert his attention to defending his Senate seat in earnest.

Paul’s attention has been primarily focused on the presidential race, in which he has fallen from being “the most interesting man in politics,” as proclaimed last year by Time magazine, to sharing a tiny piece of the Republican electorate dominated by frontrunners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Paul gained 4.5 percent of the vote in the Iowa Republican Caucuses. Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, won the Iowa caucuses ahead of businessman Donald Trump.

Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened

But Paul will face two Republican challengers in the May U.S. Senate primary election. More daunting is the General election, where he’ll likely square off against Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a wealthy businessman.

LRC Public Information

The “informed consent” abortion bill is heading to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.

The state Senate concurred on Monday with the House’s version of the legislation, which would require women seeking an abortion to meet with a doctor 24 hours in advance of the procedure in person or over live video

The bill, which passed the Senate 33-5, would be Bevin’s first signed into law.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer applauded the bill, which he says will make women think more carefully about getting an abortion.

“It is my hope and my fervent prayer that they will think twice about the action that they are about to take,” said Thayer, a Republican.

Kentucky already has an informed consent law on the books, but it allows women to have the meetings over the phone.

WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University students struggling with mental health issues can now tap into an on-campus support group.  

The National Alliance for Mental Illness is starting the free and confidential program which is available to students in all degree programs.

The group’s first meeting is Feb. 1 from 6:00-7:30pm in room 211 of the Academic Complex. Meetings will be held twice a month.

WKU Social Work Professor Jay Gabbard is the faculty member overseeing the group, along with trained NAMI staff.

He wants students to know that having a mental illness doesn’t mean they can’t succeed in school and in the workplace.

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 20, and through management of the illness over the years I’ve managed to have a successful life,” Gabbard said. “But I think it’s best to utilize a three-pronged approach: medication, therapy, and support resources.”

Owensboro Public Schools

Students in two Owensboro elementary schools now have new ways to cut down on fidgeting and concentrate on their work. That's thanks to new desks. 

Estes Elementary got 10 pedal desks for kindergarten classes. The desks look a little like a tricycle with a desk on top. They allow students to get a little exercise while learning.

Sutton Elementary got 39 standing desks that give students the choice of standing up or sitting on a stool. The desks are similar to what you might see in an art or design studio.

Fourth grade teacher Gina Davis has most of the standing desks in her classroom. 

"The students are definitely more focused and they love using them," says Davis. "Many students choose to stand the whole time. I've never said they have to stand or they have to sit, but they're choosing to do a lot of standing."

She’s been teaching for 20 years and says she’s already seen a difference since the new desks came in a few weeks ago.    

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