Associated Press

The number of Kentucky hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns has continued to skyrocket.

The number of hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns in the state rose 48 percent last year, compared to 2013.

Those 1,409 hospitalizations last year represent a 50-fold increase from just 28 hospitalizations in 2000.

According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, admissions of drug-dependent babies to U.S. hospitals nearly quadrupled from 2004 through 2013.

Dr. Veeral Tolia, a Texas doctor and lead author of the journal article, says the surge is a result of a recent national opioid abuse crisis.

Researchers say more pregnant women are being prescribed painkillers, which both raises the risk of having a drug-dependent baby and can sometimes lead to abuse and addiction.

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states in the South and Midwest, including Kentucky and Tennessee, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. [The petitioners] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” Kennedy wrote.

As expected, Kennedy was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts, considered a wild card in the case, wrote a dissent joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, who each filed dissents of their own.

“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” Roberts said, making the rare decision to read part of his opinion from the bench.

The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, was named for lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, an Ohio man who sued the state because it wouldn’t list him as a surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate. The two had been married in Maryland before his husband, John, died of ALS. (Hodges is the director of the Ohio Department of Health.)

The combined case also included plaintiffs from three other states that don’t currently recognize same-sex marriages: Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee.

The Court is still due to announce rulings on mandatory minimums for violent gun offenders, power plant pollution, lethal injection drugs, and gerrymandering.

The Democratic and Republican candidates for Kentucky lieutenant governor will participate in a forum in Paducah later this year.

The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce said Jenean Hampton, the running mate of Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin, and Sannie Overly, who is running with Democratic nominee Jack Conway, have both confirmed they will participate in the event Oct. 1.

Hampton and Overly are to appear before a chamber luncheon. The chamber said the forum will include opening comments from the candidates, a question-and-answer session with local media and concluding remarks by the candidates. WPSD-TV news anchor Todd Faulkner will be the moderator.

WPSD will broadcast the event live and will stream it live on the station's website.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is calling for a "fair and flat tax" that he says would "blow up" the nation's tax code.

The first-term Kentucky senator on Thursday released the outline of a plan to institute a 14.5 percent income tax rate on all individuals and on businesses. His campaign says the proposal would cut taxes by $2 trillion over the next decade.

It's among the first detailed policy proposals released by his presidential campaign.

Paul calls for the elimination of the payroll tax on workers. He also eliminates corporate subsidies and personal deductions, except those for mortgage interest and charitable donations.

He's also promising deep spending cuts to ensure revenue losses don't explode the national deficit.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (Flickr Creative Commons)

Kentucky's ban on corporate contributions to political parties and state candidates is being challenged by a group pushing right-to-work legislation opposed by organized labor.

Protect My Check Inc. filed a lawsuit Thursday in Kentucky seeking to overturn the corporate contribution ban.

The federal lawsuit claims the ban violates equal protection and free-speech rights.

Protect My Check says it wants to make political contributions but is prohibited by Kentucky law. The group pushes legislation allowing employees at unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues without losing their jobs.

Protect My Check notes unions and limited liability corporations can contribute to candidates and political parties in Kentucky.

Defendants are Kentucky Registry of Election Finance officials. Registry officials declined immediate comment, saying they had not yet seen the suit.

The attorney for a former Pulaski County preacher charged with three counts of murder has withdrawn from the case.

Attorney Bethany Stanziano filed a motion on Monday, saying she was not in the state of mind to provide effective assistance in the wake of her husband's fatal shooting a year ago.

Public defender Sandra Downs replaces Stanziano and Brad Coffman as the attorney for 49-year-old Kenneth A. Keith.

Keith is accused of shooting and killing three people in 2013 at a Danville pawn shop. He could face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Stanziano took over Keith's defense after her husband, lawyer Mark Stanziano, was killed outside of his Somerset office last June.

Bethany Stanziano also cited her lack of experience in death penalty cases.

Fifteen sites have been approved in Kentucky for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and the National Park Service will consider the nominations for eligibility.

The Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board approved the sites late last month. A decision on their designation is expected in 60 to 90 days.

The sites approved were W.G. Swann Tobacco Co. in Murray, C.A. Baldwin Farmstead in Christian County, Peabody-Fordson Historic District in Clay County, Kentucky Buggy Co. in Owensboro, Roscoe Goose House in Louisville, First Vineyard in Jessamine County, Frank Duveneck House and Studio in Covington, Gardner Farmstead in Magoffin County, Stearns Golf Course in McCreary County, Ceralvo Masonic Hall and School in Ohio County and Versailles Elementary School.

The Charles M. Moore Insurance Co. in Bowling Green and a multiple-property nomination for houses of architect James Ingram in Bowling Green rounded out the list.

An assistant county attorney who previously received a reprimand for deriding Korean-Americans as "foreigners" has been suspended without pay.

Multiple news sources report Jefferson County prosecutor Karl Price was suspended Thursday after a review of arraignments in April and May. In arrangement court, Price was documented making fun of crime victims, women, immigrants, disabled people, and even African Americans, even though Price himself is black.

Jefferson County attorney Mike O'Connell recently reprimanded Price for a letter he sent to a Korean family concerning a contract dispute with Hwang's Martial Arts Academy. On Tuesday, O'Connell had ordered that Price undergo sensitivity training.

Lexington health officials have unveiled a preliminary plan for a needle-exchange program to be launched in the city.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health announced Wednesday it plans to offer intravenous drug users clean needles at the health department building on Newtown Pike.

A state law passed in March allows state health departments and local governments to create needle-exchange programs to stem Kentucky's growing rates of hepatitis and HIV.

Health commissioner Dr. Rice Leach says the preliminary plan is being reviewed by law enforcement, treatment centers and city officials. The officials will hold a June 19 meeting to discuss the program.

According to the plan, people seeking needles would enter the building through a back door to protect privacy. Users would be able to receive needles anonymously.

Several post-Sept. 11 anti-terror provisions have lapsed after the Senate failed to extend them before the deadline at midnight.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is running for president, took credit for the outcome as he used Senate rules to slow action.

The expiration may be only temporary. The Senate now looks ready to accept a House-passed bill that extends the measures and remakes the National Security Agency's controversial bulk phone collections program.