Friday is the deadline for U.S. Senator Rand Paul to give the Republican Party of Kentucky $250,000 to help offset the costs of a presidential caucus in March.

The caucus will provide a way for Paul to seek re-election to the Senate and run for the White House simultaneously next year. 

However, Geoffrey Skelley, a political analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says Paul’s performance in the presidential polls and fundraising efforts have been on the decline.

"Perhaps he should turn his focus to his Senate seat entirely, but I think it's unlikely he'll drop out," remarked Skelley.  "If indeed he does fork over the money for the caucus, I'll think he'll stick it out."

If the party doesn’t receive the money, which would only partially cover the cost of the caucus, Republicans will be part of the state’s regular primary in May.

Republican state Sen. Julie Raque Adams has launched an organization to recruit and train women to run for public office.

Adams announced that she will serve as executive director of Kentucky Strong, which has the backing of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Adams cited the lack of women elected to public office in the state, citing data that showed Kentucky is near the bottom nationally in the percentage of women elected to its legislature.

McConnell said in a statement that women will get the training they need to run and win elections.

A similar organization called Emerge Kentucky recruits women to run for office as Democrats.


The Missouri man whom police say shot and killed a Kentucky state trooper had pleaded guilty to drug charges in southern Illinois several months earlier.

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri was charged with possessing drugs and guns after he was pulled over on Interstate 57 on Christmas 2014.

He spent nearly a month in the Franklin County Jail before pleading guilty to a charge of intent to deliver marijuana. Johnson-Shanks was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

Thirty-one-year-old Cameron Ponder was shot to death late Sunday in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly began after the trooper pulled over Johnson-Shanks for speeding.

Police say Johnson-Shanks was shot to death by other Kentucky troopers after he refused to surrender.

Seven Republican Kentucky House members are asking the state to look into how taxpayer funds are used by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

The lawmakers have mailed the state Auditor and Treasurer a letter asking for an audit of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

According to a statement from the Cabinet, health departments in Louisville and Lexington received about $330,000 in federal funds this fiscal year for Planned Parenthood services.

Republican Representative Tim Moore of Hardin County says if the state refuses to audit the group’s funding, he’ll sponsor a bill to halt all taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood.

"The General Assembly, to our understanding, has never approved that kind of expenditure that would support Planned Parenthood, and that has not been forthcoming," Moore told WKU Public Radio.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says all public funds that support Planned Parenthood were approved by lawmakers in the last two-year budget.

The GOP request for an audit comes as abortion opponents continue to criticize Planned Parenthood’s family planning services. The group says those services are vital for low-income women, and points out federal law prohibits taxpayer money to fund abortions.

Kentucky Considering Roadside Driver Drug Tests

Sep 17, 2015

State officials are evaluating a roadside drug test that could help police counter the growing number of drivers who are high behind the wheel.

The Courier-Journal reports that state Office of Highway Safety is partnering with authorities in Louisville, Paducah and Madison County to test portable kits that police officers could eventually carry into the field to test drivers for controlled substances.

If the tests prove reliable, lawmakers say they will consider legislation next year to expand their use.

Louisville defense attorney Larry Forman says the tests could lead to invasive searches or give officers false pretense for arrests.

According to Kentucky State Police, authorities suspected that drugs were a factor in nearly 1,600 traffic collisions across the state last year, resulting in 939 injuries and 214 deaths.

Kentucky Leads Nation in Drop of Uninsured

Sep 17, 2015

The number of people in Kentucky without health insurance fell 5.8 percent last year, the largest drop of any state in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kentucky was one of 31 states that chose to increase the number of people eligible to receive taxpayer-funded health insurance in 2013. Since then, Kentucky has added about 400,000 people to its Medicaid program and has been held up as an example by President Barack Obama of the success of his health care law.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said the report shows Kentuckians are not waiting until they are sick to access health care benefits, a fact that will improve the state's overall health.

Republicans question whether the state can afford the expansion, noting that a quarter of the state's population is now receiving government assistance.

The WKU Owensboro campus has experienced a major network and phone system outage due to a fiber cut in the area.  All Wednesday night classes are canceled.

Flickr/Creative Commons/John Karwoski

A western Kentucky coal miner was killed early Wednesday morning at the Sebree Mine in Webster County.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says 29-year-old Rickey Thorpe of Dawson Springs was repairing a continuous miner head when it fell, crushing him. The Alliance Coal mine has been closed while Kentucky Division of Mine Safety investigates.

This is the second mine-related fatality in the Commonwealth this year. The other occurred in May at a Pike County surface mine.

Owensboro Little Free Library is Big Push for Literacy

Sep 16, 2015
Owensboro Public Schools

Literacy is getting a big push at Owensboro Public Schools with a new program called “Little Free Library.” The libraries are so little  they’re contained in a two-foot by two-foot weatherproof box that looks like a birdhouse and hangs on the outside of the school.

The little library holds about 25 books that are there for the taking 24/7. There are no fines for overdue books and no return dates.

Cortney Inklebarger is principal at Cravens Elementary, the first of six schools to have a Little Free Library.

"This is something that’s a little bit more, you know, I put something in and I get to keep it. I don’t necessarily have to bring this back," said Inklebarger. "The goal is to give a book, take a book, but if a student just takes one and they love it so much and they just want to keep it and they don't have something to put back in there, that’s fine with me.”

While students have  been excited about taking and giving books, even coming by over the weekend when school is closed, Inklebarger said the project is one more step in the long-term goal of improving  literacy.

"We promote all the time for our students to read 20, 30 minutes a day. Even if you just go with the 20 minutes a day, if a student reads 20 minutes a day throughout the school year, that’s 3,600 minutes," she said. "Their standardized test scores go up, their vocabulary increases. So the more we can get books in our students’ hands, the more we can promote literacy.

The Cravens Elementary Little Free Library was installed on Sept. 3. The second one will be located at Newton Parrish Elementary on Sept. 21.

Local banks are partnering with six Owensboro schools to support the project.  

More Transparency Shows More Fees for State Pension Plan

Sep 16, 2015

After promising more transparency in its expenses, Kentucky's pension plan for public employees has reported investment fees that are more than double what's been previously made public.

According to WFPL's Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in Louisville, the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees made the disclosure last week in a meeting.

A memo to board members said the agency revised the amount it paid to outside investment firms as part of a "proactive transparency change."

KRS Chief Investment Officer David Peden said the system's net income was not affected.

WFPL reports the numbers give the nearly 350,000 public employees and retirees that depend on the pension system a better idea of how much the board pays to firms to invest about $16 billion in assets.