4:15 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Yarmuth and Barr Bet Local Bourbon on UK-UL Game

The two Congressmen who represent the districts that are home to the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are betting on their basketball teams with another Kentucky tradition...bourbon.

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville and Republican Andy Barr of Lexington said they're wagering locally distilled Kentucky bourbon on Friday night's Sweet 16 game between the two schools, whose teams also happen to be the two most recent NCAA champions.

4:06 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Hendrickson USA Brings Huge Investment and Jobs To Hardin County

The manufacturer of suspension systems and components for heavy-duty vehicles will create 75 jobs as a result of their $20 million investment. The company held a ceremonial groundbreaking for their plant Wednesday in Elizabethtown.

The site will manufacture products to supply the company's existing operations in nearby states at their new location in the T. J. Patterson Industrial Park. Construction of the 100,000 sq ft building is expected to be completed later this year. The company has two existing operations in Somerset and Lebanon employing 450 Kentuckians.

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8:43 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Cannabis Oil Approval Gives Relief to Kentucky Family

Jerry and Julie Gilliam with their daughters, 6-month-old Clara and 2-year-old Sarah Kate.
Credit Lisa Autry

A bill allowing the use of cannabis oil for treatment of certain medical conditions is one step from becoming Kentucky law. 

The oil, extracted from marijuana and hemp plants, is giving a Hopkinsville family hope for their infant daughter.

Six-month-old Clara Gilliam was born a healthy, nine-pound, nine-ounce baby girl.  But at three months, her behavior started to baffle her parents, Jerry and Julie Gilliam.

"She started to have what appeared to just be constipation or stomach aches, but her eyes were deviating to the sides, and as a mom, you just know when something's not normal," explained Gilliam.

There was something more to the strange postures and facial movements.  Baby Clara was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome, a rare disease affecting only 800 people in the U.S., and all of them females. It turned out that Clara was having seizures.

Julie Gilliam sat in her Hopkinsville home last week, rocking Clara and giving her a bottle.  Her contentment was cut short. 

"She's starting to have a seizure right now.  It looks like it will be a mild cluster," Gilliam remarked.  Sometimes in between the spasms she's crying and all you can do is hold her and comfort her, but it doesn't get any easier as a parent."

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5:25 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Senate Passes Charter Schools Bill, But Fate In House Remains Doubtful

Sen. Mike Wilson, a Bowling Green Republican, follows the vote tally on a charter school bill he sponsored in the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Kentucky LRC

A bill that would allow persistently low-achieving public schools to convert to privately-run charter schools has cleared the Kentucky Senate.

The measure passed the Republican-led chamber by a 22-14 party line vote. It would allow certified teaching staff and parents to petition the school’s principal to hold a vote on whether a privately run charter organization should be in charge of the school.

Sen. Mike Wilson, a Republican from Bowling Green, sponsored the bill.

“It’s only allowed in conversions for these low-achieving schools, and schools do remain accountable to the local board, who is, that who is the contract is with, and it’s only for a period of five years,” said Wilson.

Wilson filed similar legislation last year, only for it die in the Democratic-controlled House.

Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat from Louisville, spoke against the bill on the Senate floor. He took issue with the notion that charter schools are a cure-all for education.

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2:33 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Full Senate Approves $5.4 Billion Road Plan; Conference Committee Awaits

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Ernie Harris (right) pictured earlier in the 2014 General Assembly session
Credit Kentucky LRC

The state Senate's approach to building and maintaining roads and bridges across the Commonwealth is moving forward.  The Senate adopted the six-year road plan Wednesday.  Committee Chair Ernie Harris says the $5.4  billion dollar transportation program contains no tax increases.  

"As those projects have been moving along, we are entering the most expensive phase, because we're entering the construction phase for many of those projects, so that's why we had to be very careful when we developed this plan to make sure it was balanced so the projects that are in the plan can continue to move," said Harris.

Included is funding for the Louisville bridges project, expansion of the mountain parkway and widening Interstate 65.  Hazard Senator Brandon Smith called it a "responsible approach for transportation."  

"I can put bridges in there that are never gonna be built.  It used to be the running joke for those of us in the mountains that we'd have a 20 year project in the six year road plan," said Smith "But, I will tell you that you didn't do that, that the stuff on here is real.".

Members of the Senate and House will sit down over the next few days to work to iron out a compromise road plan. ​

12:46 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Case Resolved Against Former Barren County Sheriff

A federal lawsuit against former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and three of his deputies has been settled.  The case was unrelated to a civil rights lawsuit against Eaton that went to trial last year. 

Mark Smith filed the complaint in 2012 against then-Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton stemming from his arrest in 2011.  Also named as defendants were deputies Chris Wyatt, Rodney Sponhouse, and Aaron Bennett. 

An agreement was reached Tuesday, two weeks before a trial was to begin in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.  Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. 

Smith’s excessive force lawsuit was separate from a case that went to trial last year against Eaton and two other law enforcement officers. They were acquitted of using excessive force on another suspect, but Eaton was convicted of witness tampering after deputies testified he encouraged them to put false reports.  The former sheriff is appealing that conviction.

9:13 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Republican-Led Kentucky Senate Wants to Defund ACA Through Next State Budget

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester)
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate’s $20 billion budget proposal aims to defund the Affordable Care Act in the commonwealth, but its provisions won’t affect the program.

The Senate’s executive budget that was passed Monday disallows state general funds from being used to fund the ACA, the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, all of which are federally funded until the year 2017.

But the state budget only affects fiscal years 2014-2016, making the measure largely a political one in advance of November’s elections.

When asked what his chamber would do if the 321,000 Kentuckians enrolled via Kynect lost their coverage due to the ACA being defunded, Sen. President Robert Stivers said he would support “supplemental programs,” like health savings accounts, to help insure them.

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5:23 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Richie Farmer Is Now Behind Bars

Credit Kentucky News Network

Family members confirm that former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer reported to federal prison Tuesday afternoon. Farmer is staying at a minimum security satellite camp next to a high security facility in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

Farmer was allowed an extra week of freedom in order to watch his son play basketball in the boy's Sweet 16 Tournament. He is a former star player at the University of Kentucky.

Farmer pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges stemming from his time in office. He'll serve a 27 month sentence.

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9:54 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Senate Amendement Would Ban Undercover Videos on Kentucky Farms

Photos like this one taken by the Humane Society would be outlawed under a bill amended by the Kentucky Senate Tuesday.
Credit U.S. Humane Society

An undercover video released in February by the Humane Society showed – what it described – as inhumane conditions at a hog farm in Owensboro.  Under an amendment proposed by the Senate agriculture committee on Tuesday, taking secret videos like that would be against the law.  

The amendment was added to the House bill that dealt with the ways animals could be euthanized.The amendment declares that any photographs or video taken without a farmer's permission would be considered a crime.  

Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the United States called it an attempt to silence the investigations they conduct. 

“Animal cruelty exposés often rely on video and photographic evidence,” said Shapiro.  “The meat industry’s response to our exposés is to try to criminalize the mere act of whistle blowing at their operations, which shows you just how much they have to hide.”

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4:38 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Judge: Current Law Does Not Allow for Use of Eminent Domain for Controversial Pipeline Project

A Franklin County judge has ruled that Kentucky law doesn’t allow the use of eminent domain for a natural gas liquids pipeline. The move is the latest blow to the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline project.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids across Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico. The NGLs are used in manufacturing processes, but the project has been controversial because of worries about the project's environmental impact and safety concerns.

A measure to block NGL pipelines from using eminent domain is moving through the state legislature, but the Franklin County ruling adds another legal hurdle to the project. Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the pipeline doesn’t fall under the commonwealth’s definition of “public service,” and thus couldn’t use eminent domain.

Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Kentucky landowners.

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