Associated Press

Kentucky firefighters have been dispatched to help combat wildfires in Washington, California and North Carolina.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry says it sent 14 firefighters to be part of a 20-person crew fighting a fire in North Carolina.

Five KDF firefighters left on Aug. 1 to help deal with a fire in northern California.

Two other Kentucky firefighters were sent out west, one to deal with a fire in Washington and the other to help with another blaze in California.

State officials say that as Kentucky's fall fire hazard season begins Oct. 1, this might be the last opportunity for Kentucky to send aid to other states.

Kentucky News Network

A judge is upholding a warrant allowing investigators to search the email account of an indicted political operative who has worked for Rand Paul, Ron Paul and Mitch McConnell.

Magistrate Judge Helen Adams rejected a request Monday by Jesse Benton to quash a warrant ordering Google Inc. to turn over the contents of his Gmail account.

The decision means the government will get access to thousands of emails that Benton sent and received dating back to 2011.

Benton had argued the warrant was overly broad and violated his privacy. His attorney argued the government was conducting a "fishing expedition."

Benton and two other aides to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign were indicted last week, accused of conspiring to buy the support of a state senator before that year's Iowa caucuses.

Creative Commons

The Tennessee prison system is at a capacity level that could allow the governor to declare an overcrowding emergency, giving him and other state officials the power to reduce the number of inmates to a lower level, according to data obtained by The Tennessean.

As of June 30, the prison system was operating at 98.5 percent capacity, with 95.1 percent of total beds filled. State law says if the in-house prison capacity exceeds 95 percent for more than 30 days, the commissioner can ask the governor to declare an overcrowding emergency.

Tennessee Department of Corrections spokeswoman Neysa Taylor says the department isn't required to declare an emergency based on current data.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said recently that prisons should operate near full capacity.

Federal prosecutors have charged three people who worked for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign with conspiring to buy the support of a former Iowa state senator.

Among those changed is Jesse Benton, who now heads up a super PAC supporting the 2016 presidential candidacy of Paul's son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges Benton, John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari with conspiracy and several other related crimes.

The indictment says they negotiated with former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson to switch his support to Ron Paul in exchange for money. Sorenson had previously backed Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The indictment says the arrangement was concealed from Ron Paul himself and that Benton initiated the deal.

The Tennessee Department of Health wants residents to become more aware of Hepatitis C, saying the rate of acute cases in the state has more than tripled in the last seven years.

Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner says it's also estimated that more than 100,000 Tennesseans may be living with chronic Hepatitis C and not be aware.

The disease has no vaccine. The Health Department says the most important way to prevent the disease from spreading is to avoid exposure to infected blood.

Dreyzehner says anyone who suspects infection should be tested right away and, if infected, speak to a doctor about treatment options.

The agency says most of the increase in transmission of Hepatitis C in Tennessee is due to sharing of contaminated needles and syringes among intravenous drug users.

Wealthy libertarians are giving big to Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Three super PACs supporting the Kentucky senator say they raised a combined $6 million through June 30.

That's on top of the $7 million Paul's campaign reported raising between his April announcement and the end of last month.

Super PACs have no limits on how much they can raise, but they cannot directly coordinate with the candidate they're helping.

Donors to the super PACs include Jeff Yass, a high-frequency trader and board member of the libertarian Cato Institute, and George Macricostas, head of a data center company called RagingWire.

Paul is one of the expected 17 major GOP candidates for president. The total raised by his campaign and allied groups puts him in the top six for fundraising.

Kentucky LRC

An attorney representing three state workers says Kentucky has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against current and former state lawmakers for $400,000.

Thomas Clay says the Legislative Research Commission agreed to pay Yolanda Costner, Cassaundra Cooper and Nicole Cusic the money to end the lawsuit.

Costner and Cooper said former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold touched them inappropriately. Cusic said she was demoted after complaining that state Rep. Will Coursey sexually harassed some female staffers.

Arnold and Coursey have denied the allegations and did not admit guilt as part of the settlement. The agreement simply satisfies the claims.

State lawmakers are in the process of hiring a new director for the Legislative Research Commission.

Four Kentucky couples are suing a clerk who is refusing to issue gay-marriage licenses -- or any marriage licenses at all -- following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis told The Associated Press that her Christian beliefs prevented her from complying with the decision, so she decided to issue no more marriage licenses to any couple, gay or straight.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit against her Thursday afternoon on behalf of four couples: two homosexual and two heterosexual couples who each tried to get licenses from Davis' office this week and were turned away.

Davis is among a handful of judges and clerks across the South who have defied the high court's order.

Kentucky's two major party candidates for governor are not taking a day off for Independence Day.

Republican nominee Matt Bevin and Democratic nominee Jack Conway will be traveling the state on Saturday to participate in a variety of Independence Day celebrations as both seek to become Kentucky's next governor. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Bevin and Conway are scheduled to participate in the Campbellsville Fourth of July celebration, which includes speeches and a parade. Bevin will then walk in the Fort Mitchell Parade at noon while Conway will walk in the Lexington Fourth of July parade at 2 p.m.

The two candidates are scheduled to appear together on July 23 at the Measure the Candidates forum at the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

The Fourth of July is almost here, and that means fireworks season.

Officials say the safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display. But the Kentucky Fire Commission, which is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in Versailles, says people who want to set off fireworks in a county where it is allowed should follow these guidelines:

   --Buy from a reputable dealer and follow manufacturer directions.

   --Have water nearby to extinguish discarded fireworks or for an emergency.

   --Place fireworks on a flat surface, clear of combustible materials and buildings.

   --Light one firework at a time.

   --Never point or throw fireworks at anyone.

   --Keep bystanders at least 25 feet away.

   --Don't let young children handle or ignite fireworks.

   --Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

   --Stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch fire.

PGA Tour Photo

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear played golf with Tiger Woods on Wednesday.

The two-term Democratic governor was part of a foursome in a pro-am golf event before the start of the Greenbrier Classic, a golf tournament on the PGA Tour in West Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Beshear's spokesman, Terry Sebastian, said Beshear was thrilled to play with Woods, calling him a golf legend. The team finished 9 under par, and Sebastian said Beshear picked up three of those strokes for the team.

Woods has won 14 major championships. Beshear is finishing up his second term as Kentucky's governor. He cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

White House

When President Barack Obama visits Nashville to tout his health care law, he's unlikely to say much, if anything, about a failed plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told The Associated Press ahead of Obama's visit on Wednesday that he's expected to discuss building on the progress made under the Affordable Care Act.

When asked about Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to expand Medicaid, Burwell said Insure Tennessee "isn't the focus of the visit."

The plan sought to extend coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans. The proposal failed in a special legislative session in February, was then revived during the regular session -- only to be killed again in a Senate committee.

Supporters held a news conference earlier this week to renew an effort to try to pass the plan.

Kentucky teenagers and administrators are bracing themselves for a new state dropout law that will go into effect on July 1 in most school districts.

The dropout age is being raised from 16 to 18, meaning some students who legally left the education system will now have to return to school.

17-year-old dropouts say it is pointless to make them return because they plan on dropping out again upon their next birthday. Administrators, meanwhile, are not relishing the new task of trying to track down the juveniles and bring them back.

   Newport Independent Schools administrator Mike Wills says the law will be hard to enforce. Aside from filing charges and taking a student or the student's parents to court, there's not much recourse for districts, he says.

WKU

Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Carol Martin "Bill" Gatton to be a lifetime honorary trustee of the University of Kentucky, where Gatton is the largest single donor.

Gatton has given more than $45 million to his alma mater, including $20 million for a new student center. That gift is the largest in UK's history. The Carol Martin Gatton Academy for Mathmatics and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University is named in his honor.

Gatton's last term as a trustee ends this month. Honorary status makes him a non-voting member of the board.

Beshear said the designation would allow the board to continue to benefit from Gatton's "wisdom, counsel and guidance."

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.

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