News

Ashley Lopez, WFPL

Kentucky’s case before the Supreme Court started with a conversation between attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott.

As they chatted in Fauver’s Louisville office, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation that was an obstacle to same-sex marriage being made legal in the U.S.

“We were waiting actually for the Supreme Court on the Windsor case and at that point we didn’t know what the ruling was going to be—and they kept postponing,” Fauver said.

“And we were talking about what would happen next, like would be the next steps for anybody to take,” she said. “And we were talking about the fact that someone should file a lawsuit here, and we checked around and no one was talking about it.”

That conversation would lead to lawsuits that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

WKU Public Radio was awarded three First Place plaques as well as nine other Certificates of Excellence at the 2015 Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters awards Saturday night in Lexington.

The Staff was given top honors for Best Long Newscast, Lisa Autry won first place for Best Short Serious News Feature for her report on a Muhlenberg County town coming together to remember family members killed in a house fire, and Morning Edition host Joe Corcoran won first place for Best Long Light News Feature for his report on Bowling Green's TopCrops program.

Autry was also awarded Certificates of Excellence in the categories of Best Short Serious News Feature, Best Long Serious News Feature, Best Spot News and Best Continuing Coverage. Emil Moffatt won Certificates for Best Long Serious News Feature, Best Radio Reporter, Best Long Sports Feature and Best Long Light News Feature. The staff also won a certificate of recognition in the category of Best Radio Website.

In their comments for Best Long Newscast, the judges wrote "You are 'telling' me the news as opposed to 'announcing' the news at me. Great conversational style. Well organized, good tempo and good use of quality sound bites."

Lisa Autry was commended for her "descriptive story telling of the good, the bad and the ugly that's come of a town's tragedy."

As more Kentucky cities look into putting body cameras on police officers, many questions still remain about how to run the programs.

Corbin is the latest city to start a pilot program for police body cameras. At least 11 other cities have already implemented some sort of program. And police departments are still trying to figure out a few things: when the officer should turn the camera on, how to store footage, and who has access to it.

That last part is of particular concern to those who end up in the videos, says Kate Miller with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, “The idea of that sort of footage being collected and stored particularly if it’s stored indefinitely is concerning to the ACLU and of course you know a video doesn’t tell the full story necessarily,” Miller said.

Lexington has had a pilot program in place since before the beginning of this year and Mayor Jim Gray has proposed $600,000 in next year’s budget for body cameras.

Louisville is expected to start a pilot program this summer.

Six Kentucky same-sex couples and their attorneys are heading to Washington and the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments for their challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban will be heard by the high court Tuesday.

The twelve Kentuckians—most from Louisville—are asking the nation’s highest court to overturn a circuit court ruling that kept the state’s gay marriage ban intact.

Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott from the Fauver law firm in Louisville were the first to file lawsuits challenging the ban. Fauver says she’s still surprised their case got this far, "Dawn and I sit around sometimes and say, ‘look what we started.’ We had no idea this would be the case that goes to the Supreme Court when we started. " she said.

Kentucky’s case is bundled with gay marriage cases from Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
A ruling from the high court is expected this summer.

Kentucky State Capitol Evacuated for Possible Fire

Apr 24, 2015

The Kentucky state Capitol was evacuated Friday morning for a possible fire.

Firefighters searched the building before allowing people back inside. State workers and several elementary school tour groups huddled outside under clear skies while emergency crews showed up in one fire truck and two ambulances.

The Capitol reopened after about 15 minutes. Fire officials said it was a false alarm.

Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

James Comer leads all Republican candidates for governor with more than $800,000 raised from individual donors in the first four months of 2015.

But the state agriculture commissioner has been outspent nearly 3 to 1 by Hal Heiner, the former Louisville Metro councilman who loaned his campaign more than $4 million last summer. Louisville businessman Matt Bevin has also been a big spender, loaning his campaign $1.25 million after filing for office in January and spending more than $1 million, mostly on TV commercials.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott's report was not available.

Both Comer and Heiner have more than $1 million in the bank less than a month before the primary. Bevin has just over $286,000. The candidates are scheduled to appear together at the Rotary Club of Louisville on Thursday.

Officials in Middlesboro have given preliminary approval to a citywide smoking ban.

The vote Tuesday came after a request from a group of elementary school students involved with Destination Imagination, an educational nonprofit organization that tries to encourage and equip young leaders.

The Middlesboro Elementary School students proposed an ordinance that would ban smoking in all public places. Their presentation to the City Council last month included a petition with more than 400 signatures and information about the health effects of smoking.

The City Council's first reading of the ordinance to ban smoking passed unanimously. A second and final vote is set for May 19.

The Symphony at WKU stayed close to home in finding their new Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities. Dr. Brian St. John is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Activities at the University of Evansville, where he directs that University’s Symphony Orchestra and teaches courses in conducting, music technology and composition.

He’ll assume his new post at WKU this fall.

Besides leading the Symphony at WKU, Dr. St. John will also hold the Baker Professorship of Music, one of three endowed professorships in the Potter College of Arts & Letters.

St. John also served at Minnesota State University-Moorhead and in Colorado for what is now the Boulder Symphony Orchestra.

Rand Paul's Son Cited for DUI After Car Crash in Kentucky

Apr 22, 2015

A son of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has been cited for driving under the influence of alcohol in Kentucky.

Police in Lexington say William H. Paul was driving a 2006 Honda Ridgeline at 11:24 a.m. on Sunday when he crashed into the back of an unoccupied parked car. Some people nearby heard the crash and alerted authorities.

Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Paul was treated at the University of Kentucky hospital for minor injuries to his face. She said a police officer cited Paul for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failure of a nonowner/operator to maintain insurance.

Paul was alone at the time of the crash. He was not arrested, which Roberts said is standard for this type of case.

A campaign spokesman said Sen. Rand Paul does not comment on any private matters in regards to his family.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday on Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ proposed rate increase.

Instead, as WFPL reported, the utilities and all of the intervenors in the case reached a settlement, which is now subject to PSC approval.

Here’s a deeper look at the settlement, what LG&E/KU got—and what they didn’t get.

Monthly Service Charge

This was the most contentious part of the original proposal because it would affect every customer, regardless of how much energy they used. LG&E electric and gas customers would have ended up paying $37 a month, up from $24.25. KU customers would have paid $18 a month, rather than the $10.75 they pay now. Under the settlement, there will be no change to the monthly charge, but the rates of electricity and gas will change slightly. The company estimates that the average LG&E bill will increase by about $1.15 a month, while the average KU customer will pay $9 more each month.

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