Becca Schimmel

Multimedia Journalist

Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.  She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green. 

Becca was born in Charleston, SC but grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. You can often find her behind a book or near a cup of coffee. In her time away from the newsroom she enjoys running and lifting weights. She’s a sucker for unintentional puns, a good cup of coffee, a nice craft beer and a story.

Becca earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University with a minor in psychology. She interned with The Paducah Sun in Paducah as a general assignment reporter. From there she went on to become Morning Edition producer and general assignment reporter for WKMS in Murray.

The Kentucky House Judiciary committee has approved a bill banning a certain type of abortion procedure after about 11 weeks. The measure now goes on to the full House for a vote.

 

The procedure some lawmakers want to prohibit is called dilation and evacuation. It involves removing the fetus using suction and surgical tools which some lawmakers say is brutal. The Courier Journal reports the legislation would ban abortions that result in the bodily dismemberment or crushing of a fetus that is 11 weeks old or more, except in medical emergencies. Republican senator Addia Wuchner of Florence supports the bill.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Pete Prodoehl

Century Aluminum Executive Vice President Jesse Gary said his company will begin hiring up to 300 new workers for its Hancock County smelter as soon as a proposed tariff order is signed.

President Trump is expected to announce a 10 percent tariff on aluminum and a 25 percent tariff on steel this week. Century Aluminum said its smelter in Hancock County could be back to full capacity by 2019 if the tariff order is signed.

NPR

An analyst from the Tax Foundation said raising the state cigarette tax is the wrong approach to creating new revenue in Kentucky. The Kentucky House passed a 50 cent cigarette tax hike last week as part of a two-year budget bill.

The Tax Foundation said Kentucky’s 2009 cigarette tax increase provided an initial boost in revenue, followed by a significant decline in the following years. Morgan Scarboro with the Tax Foundation said cigarette tax revenues are a volatile and unreliable source of revenue.

Thinkstock

The two-year spending plan passed by the Kentucky House allocates $70 million to reopen three private prisons.

 

Daniel Cameron is a spokesperson for the criminal justice reform group Kentucky Smart On Crime. He said the money being spent to incarcerate people for low level drug offenses could be better spent elsewhere.

“For every dollar that’s eaten up by the corrections budget that’s another dollar that can’t be utilized to go after serious violent offenders,” he said.

flickr creative commons

Kentucky won’t be feeling as much of the effect of the federal tax reform law as most other states. That’s partly because the commonwealth doesn’t combine the standard deduction and the personal exemption.

According to a report from the Tax Foundation, Kentuckians won’t see significant changes in their state tax filings. But they will see that some of the exemptions they’ve previously claimed are more limited now.

Senior Policy analyst with the Tax Foundation Jared Walczak said the federal tax law changes are pro-growth and give states a chance to reform their own codes to become more competitive.

Becca Schimmel

The Ohio Valley was once synonymous with steel. Even after the industry’s sharp decline the region is still home to many industries that produce or use steel and aluminum. Those industries are closely watching what the Trump administration will do on steel and aluminum imports.

The Department of Commerce has suggested a massive 24 percent global tariff on those imports. As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to apply tariffs. Now, it’s unclear if President Trump will follow through.

Mary Meehan

A liberal leaning policy institute is suggesting the state focus more on raising revenue and less on cutting social programs.  A new report shows that over the past decade the state has had 19 rounds of budget cuts. The governor’s proposed budget includes across the board cuts, as well as reduced funding to some social programs and educational resources.

 

The report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says the state could raise revenue by limiting income tax breaks, taxing online purchases and repealing some tax exemptions. Executive director Jason Bailey said lawmakers seem more willing to look at taxes as an option for raising revenue than they have been in the past.

Ryland Barton

A spokesman for a regional Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office said his agency isn’t as affected by state budget cuts as some other parts of government. But he said the legislature needs to talk about updating the funding model to keep up with technological changes like electric vehicles.

The transportation cabinet relies on a gas tax for the majority of its funding. Because Kentucky has so many interstates that tax often provides the money needed to maintain and update roads and bridges. Spokesman for the state transportation cabinet office in Elizabethtown, Chris Jessie, said lawmakers will have to consider new funding models given the increasing popularity of electric cars.

Becca Schimmel

The final chapter of the National Corvette Museum’s sinkhole saga has closed four years to the day that the earth opened up beneath the Bowling Green attraction. Eight vintage vehicles were swallowed up when the sinkhole collapsed in 2014. The museum unveiled a restored version of the 1962 Corvette that was damaged that day.

David Donoho of Zionsville, Indiana, was the proud owner of the ‘62 black Corvette with a red interior. His friend Beth Sease was at the unveiling on behalf of Donoho, who passed away in 2013. She remembered Donoho as a quiet and unassuming man who loved two things, trains and his Corvettes.


Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Some Kentucky schools canceled planned safety reviews in response to Governor Bevin’s state budget cuts. Bevin proposed the 6.25 percent cuts to most state agencies in response to a $200 million shortfall. One of the schools that canceled its safety review is Marshall County Elementary School, which is in the same district as the high school where a deadly shooting took place last month.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Novartis AG

A Kentucky lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require elementary, middle and high school students to be taught what are known as  “soft skills”. The goal of the new curriculum would be to better prepare students for the workforce.

Lancaster Republican Representative Jonathan Shell told House education committee members the bill is needed because students lack adaptability, reliability, communication and teamwork skills.

A liberal-leaning public policy group said Kentucky’s per-pupil spending on public education is lower than it was ten years ago once inflation is taken into account.

During his budget address last month, Governor Bevin promised to maintain per-pupil funding for the state’s K-12 students.

But a report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows that when inflation is taken into account, the amount of money spent by the state on a per-pupil basis has actually decreased by 16 percent since 2008. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with KCEP. She said claims that public school funding has been maintained are misleading.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.


WKU Public Radio

National parks are ready to welcome back visitors after a brief government shutdown.

During a partial government shutdown, maintenance employees, tour guides and most other personnel are furloughed. Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park was one of many parks with limited services and that meant no cave tours over the weekend. Even in winter that’s a big deal. John Garder at the National Parks Conservation Association, said visitors spent more than $30,000 on an average January day at Mammoth Cave in 2016.


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New data show that Kentucky’s incarceration rate is increasing, while the national rate continues to decline.

 

Figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show Kentucky has the ninth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. The commonwealth’s female incarceration rate is more than twice the national average, making it the second-highest in America.

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