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Regional
5:15 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Bill Requiring Parental Notification of Teen Traffic Tickets Wins Final Approval

Kentucky lawmakers have given final approval to a bill requiring parents to be in court when their teenage children are accused of traffic violations.

The Senate passed the bill on a 38-0 vote Friday, sending it to Gov. Steve Beshear. The bill previously passed the House.

Supporters say the bill stems from the death of a Kentucky teenager who died in a traffic crash while speeding.

They say the same teen was stopped for speeding previously, but his case went through the courts without his parents' knowledge.

The bill seeks to ensure parents know when their children are accused of traffic violations. It would apply to cases involving youngsters under age 18. In most cases, their parents or guardians would have to attend their court proceedings.

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Regional
2:42 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Kentucky Beefs Up Technology, Manpower Ahead of Health Insurance Deadline

Workers field calls about Kynect at a call center in Lexington.
Credit Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentucky is taking measures to handle an expected last-minute surge in applications for health insurance ahead of Monday’s deadline. 

The state has added phone operators at the Lexington call center and increased server power on Kynect, the state’s health exchange. 

"We've been seeing a tremendous increase in the number of people applying and approved each day," says Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  "We've been seeing about 3,100 each day and I suspect that's even higher this week."

According to the state, 350,386 uninsured Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid or private coverage as of Friday afternoon.

With a few exceptions, Monday, March 31 is the deadline to enroll in coverage that will take effect this year.  The next open enrollment period begins in November for coverage that would take effect in 2015.

When the current enrollment period began last October 1, an estimated 640,000 Kentuckians were uninsured.  Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio this week that he is "astonished" by the number of enrollments so far, and expects it will take two to three years to reach everyone.

"I think long-term you're going to see this grow, expand so hopefully every Kentuckian will finally have access to affordable health coverage," commented Beshear.  "We're going to be a much healthier state because of this effort."

For more information, call 1-855-459-6328  from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET or go to Kynect.ky.gov.

Regional
2:22 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

In Frankfort, Budget Talks Break Down As End of Session Looms

House Republican Whip John Carney, R-Campbellsville (left), talks with Rep. Jim Stewart, R-Flat Lick, during a recess period of the budget conference committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

House and Senate lawmakers are far from agreeing on how to spend $20 billion in tax money during the next two years.

Talks broke down early Friday afternoon over $1 million for expanded cancer screenings and $500,000 to replace a roof at a domestic violence shelter in Louisville.

Senate Republicans argued the cancer screening money is unnecessary now that Medicaid and private insurance plans are required to pay for them under the federal Affordable Care Act. Democrats say the money is still needed because not everyone has signed up for insurance yet.

Lawmakers have yet to discuss big issues in the budget, including a 1.5 cents-per-gallon increase in the gas tax and $65 million for the renovation of Rupp Arena in Lexington.

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Regional
11:17 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Bowling Green, Warren County Schools Set Last of Day of Classes

School systems across Kentucky can finalize their calendars now that state lawmakers have reached an agreement over making up days missed because of snow. 

The Warren County Board of Education, at a special meeting Thursday night, voted to make up the remaining seven days and end the school year on June 4.  The board's action means that all 13 days missed due to inclement weather will be made up. 

Meanwhile, the Bowling Green City School District missed five days this year. Three of those days were made up using designated make-up days in the school calendar. City schools will make up the additional two days by being in session April 18 and May 23, both also designated make-up days in the school calendar.

May 23rd will be the last day of school for Bowling Green students.

Regional
11:02 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Westbound Lanes of WK Parkway Now Open Following Morning Accident

Update at 11:02 a.m.:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced that the westbound lanes of the Western Kentucky Parkway have reopened to traffic at the 65 mile marker.  All lanes are now open at this site

Update at 10:13 a.m.:

The westbound lanes of the Western Kentucky Parkway at mile marker 65 at the Muhlenberg-Ohio county line will likely remain closed until 11:30 a.m.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reports that Ohio County emergency management reports some additional work is required to prepare the westbound lanes for traffic.

Original post:

The eastbound lanes of the Western Kentucky Parkway at mile marker 65 are open Friday morning following a commercial vehicle crash.

Both westbound lanes, however, will likely remain closed until 9:00 a.m. The accident took place at the Muhlenberg-Ohio County line, and involved a truck loaded with plywood crashing into the end of a bridge.

We'll update this post as soon as more information becomes available.

Regional
10:58 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Somerset Officials Consider Selling Gasoline

Officials in Somerset plan to discuss the possibility of the city getting into the gasoline business.

Mayor Eddie Girdler told council members this week that a plan is in place that would allow the city to sell regular gasoline if councilors approved it.

Girdler told The Commonwealth Journal that the move is in response to complaints about high gas prices in the area.

Girdler said the city has a gas processing plant equipped with pumps that is already used to fill up city vehicles such as police cars and ambulances. He said the city is in negotiations to purchase enough gasoline to open it to the public.

A finalized plan is expected to be presented to city officials in the next two months.

Politics
9:21 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Tennessee Senate Leader: Pay Raises, Higher Ed Funding Face Cuts

Credit capitol.tn.gov

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says worse-than-expected revenue collections could force Tennessee to cancel planned pay raises for state employees and reduce planned investments in higher education.

The Blountville Republican told reporters at his weekly news conference on Thursday that he had not yet heard the outlines of fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposals to deal with the shortfall, but Ramsey expressed a preference for finding the savings among bigger ticket items rather than spread among a large number of small projects.

The state's general fund revenues have fallen $260 million short of projections through the first seven months of the budget year.

Haslam is expected to release his proposed spending adjustments next week for the budget year beginning in July.

Politics/Business
8:12 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Kentucky Senate Approves Measure Creating Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Projects

A bill that would permit private corporations to partner with government to finance infrastructure projects is one step closer to becoming law.

Filed by Rep. Leslie Combs, House Bill 407 passed the Senate by a 27-9 vote, and would allow local governments to partner with businesses to fund infrastructure projects.

Dissenting members worried that the legislation would afford private companies too much influence on public projects, and expressed concern over accountability of the process.

Sen. Perry Clark cited a Brookings Institute study that says public private partnerships, or “P3’s,” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

“They have over a two-thirds failure rate," the Louisville Democrat said. "Of the construction roads, they looked at 11 of them that were completed, seven of those ended in bankruptcy, and several of them ended in foreclosure. Oftentimes it was at great cost to the taxpayers that had to foot the difference.”

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Regional
7:27 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Meth Bust Nabs Dozens In Seven Area Counties

A meth lab bust in Barren County, Kentucky
Credit Barren-Edmonston Drug Task Force

Kentucky State Police say they've busted a large scale methamphetamine drug syndicate in south-central Kentucky. Twenty eight people are charged with engaging in organized crime.

They were arrested after a three year investigation into drug trafficking in counties that include Allen, Warren, Barren, Metcalfe, Cumberland, Powell and Monroe.

The Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement unit led the investigation.

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Regional
5:14 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Stivers: Senate Budget To Restore Number of Mine Inspections

Senate President Robert Stivers
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate will likely restore funding to conduct coal mine inspections in the state budget. Currently, mines get six state inspections a year.

A previous draft of the budget cut the number to two. Senate President Robert Stivers says his chamber will likely restore funding for six inspections.  But that doesn't mean Stivers wants to keep the amount of money exactly the same. He says the House budget didn’t address the reduction in the number of coal mines, which he argues requires fewer inspections.

“They funded it at the level that it has been without recognition of closures and loss of jobs,” said Stivers.  “So it’ll be a function of that, looking at closure and loss of jobs and seeing what’s actually out there.”

The Senate’s budget initially reduced the number of mandatory mine inspections from six per year to just two, prompting criticism from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, which said in a statement that further reductions in its budget would put coal miners at increased risk.

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