Lisa Autry

Reporter/Producer

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum.  She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years.  Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville.  She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky.  Many of her stories have been heard on NPR. 

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Regional
8:47 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Kentucky AG Asks Congress to Fund Anti-Human Trafficking Programs

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway
Credit Kentucky Attorney General's Office

Kentucky’s attorney general is joining his counterparts across the country in pressing Congress to fund state efforts toward combating human trafficking. 

Attorney General Jack Conway and the AGs of 46 states and territories sent a letter this week asking Congress to fund the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The funding would go toward programs that fight what’s called “modern-day slavery.”

"It's happening across the country, including right here in Kentucky," Conway wrote.  "This is mission-critical funding necessary to better protect victims of human trafficking and prosecute traffickers."

The 2000 law up for reauthorization established human trafficking as a federal crime and increased the country’s efforts to protect underage victims.  It also funded task forces and gave prosecutors more effective tools for prosecuting offenders. 

Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution, others are exploited for their labor in restaurants, factories, and on farms. 

The number of cases prosecuted in Kentucky has grown from just one in 2007 to 12 this year.

Politics
9:45 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Bill Would Force Kentucky's Leaders to Visit Certain Areas of the Commonwealth

Kenny Imes, R-Murray
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A lawmaker from western Kentucky thinks state leaders should visit the far ends of commonwealth, areas he believes, are sometimes overlooked. 

State Representative Kenny Imes has pre-filed legislation for the 2014 session that would require certain non-merit employees, including the governor, to visit two of the most western and most eastern counties before they take office or be appointed to a position.

“Our Commissioner of Agriculture, James Comer, made a pledge to visit all 120 counties in the Commonwealth after taking office.  My bill would only require people like the Governor and his staff, his cabinet secretaries, and others to visit two: Fulton and Pike,” said Rep. Imes in a news release.  “They represent the people of Fulton and Pike County as equally as they do those living in Fayette and Jefferson, so it’s only right we require they make the effort to visit these regions.”

The leaders would have to get a certificate from the county clerks of Fulton and Pike counties as proof they physically traveled there. 

The legislation also requires travel for cabinet secretaries, commissioners, employees of KET, the state highway engineer, and employees of the Council on Postsecondary Education.  Those individuals would be required to travel on their own time and could not be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Politics
11:35 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Kentucky Lawmaker Wants Governor, Others to Get Their Health Insurance Through the Exchange

State Representative Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A Kentucky lawmaker thinks if Kentucky’s online health exchange is good enough for citizens, it should be good enough for the state’s leaders. 

Representative Robert Benvenuti has pre-filed a bill for the 2014 legislative session that requires Governor Steve Beshear, members of his cabinet, and all 138 state lawmakers to obtain health coverage through the exchange or purchase insurance on their own. 

"The initial feedback from the folks I care about, the citizens of the commonwealth, has been very positive. They think this is only right, that the folks that make the rules live by the rules they make," stated Benvenuti.  "We've heard a great deal from the governor's office and from Democrats in the General Asssembly that the exchange is a wonderful opportunity for Kentuckians, and yet the Kentuckians I talk to strongly disagree."

Benvenuti, a Lexington Republican, points to the estimated 280,000 Kentuckians that will lose their current insurance plans because they don’t comply with mandates of the federal health care law. 

Governor Beshear has dismissed naysayers, saying the exchange is allowing the uninsured to get coverage that, in the long run, will reduce medical costs and create a healthier population.

Kentucky’s exchange has been touted as a national model, and the state says about 1,000 people per day are enrolling in coverage.

Politics
4:20 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Newly Elected Kentucky Lawmaker Says She Won't Let Job Conflict with Legislative Duties

Suzanne Miles
Credit Kentucky Republican Party

Kentucky’s newest House member plans to take a leave of absence from her job while the legislature is in session. 

It’s not uncommon for state lawmakers to continue working in their careers while the General Assembly is in session, but Republican Suzanne Miles doesn’t quite find herself in the same situation. 

Miles is the Owensboro field representative for 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie.  She plans to go on unpaid leave to avoid a conflict of interest.

“Ethically and morally, I would not be accepting two checks during the same time period," says Miles.  "We’ve had a lot of discussion about that.”

Miles won a special election this week for state representative, replacing Democrat John Arnold who resigned amid sexual harassment accusations. 

The 7th District House seat covers Union and parts of Henderson and Daviess counties.

Politics
5:00 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Focus is Jobs for Candidates in Special Election for Western Kentucky House Seat

Suzanne Miles
Credit Kentucky Republican Party

The two women vying for a vacant seat in the Kentucky House both agree jobs are the foremost issue facing the 7th District that includes Union and portions of Henderson and Daviess counties.  How to create them is one way they differ from each other. 

Republican Suzanne Miles of Owensboro would vote for a right-to-work bill in the General Assembly.  Under right-to-work laws, employer cannot make the payment of union dues a condition of employment.  Miles believes having the law in Kentucky would remove barriers to job creation.

“I don’t feel like people should have to pay to work," remarks Miles.  "Our states north and south of us, Indiana and Tennessee, both are right to work states.  I do know that it makes a difference in those states from people that travel with their work.”

Miles has the endorsement of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  Her Democratic opponent Kim Humphrey of Morganfield is endorsed by the state AFL-CIO.  Humphrey is against Kentucky becoming a right-to-work state.

“What right-to-work takes away is the ability for wage earners to make a good living and for those folks to be able to organize if they wish to do that," says Humphrey.

If elected state representative, both Miles and Humphrey say they would work to create jobs and protect existing jobs in western Kentucky's coal industry. 

Both women are making their first political run.  The 43-year-old Miles is the Owensboro field representative for 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie.  Humphrey, 53, is a former banker and economic development official who now works for Riverview Coal in Union County.

The winner of Tuesday's special election will fill the seat of former House member John Arnold who resigned in September amid sexual harassment allegations.

Business
1:20 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

National Outdoor Retailer Planning Bowling Green Store

A national retailer for hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear will open a store in Bowling Green in 2014.  Cabela's will build a 42,000-square-foot store, making it the second in Kentucky, joining one in Louisville. 

Communications Specialist Wes Remmer told WKU Public Radio that the Cabela’s Outpost store will be among the company's smallest.

“The Outposts are about 40,000 square feet, whereas, some of our other retail locations can range up to 250,000 square feet," explains Remmer.  "The Outposts are a way to get into those smaller markets.”

Cabela’s will open the Bowling Green store next fall and employ about 90 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers. 

Cabela's Outpost will be located at the intersection of Scottsville Road and Ken Bale Boulevard.

Regional
11:09 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Drivers Cautioned on Sleet, Freezing Rain Forecast for Kentucky

The approaching winter weather in Kentucky should cause concern for motorists.  The forecast calls for a wintry mix of precipitation late Thursday through Friday. 

Kentucky Transportation Department Spokesman Keith Todd says crews were not able to pre-treat the roadways, which will make for hazardous driving conditions.

“Anytime there’s rain and we pre-treat, the rain just washes the pre-treating material off the roadway, so we’re not going to be able to pre-treat," explains Todd.  "We always like to do that when we can because that puts us out ahead of the storm and gives us a head start.”

Todd says it appears the weather system will arrive a few hours earlier than expected.  Sleet and freezing rain is expected in far western Kentucky Thursday afternoon and will spread eastward in the evening. 

Road conditions throughout the state are posted online at 511.ky.gov.

Politics
1:08 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Kentucky State Senate Candidate with History of Charges Leaves Race

Troy Brooks

A candidate for state senate in south central Kentucky has withdrawn from the race less than a week after announcing his bid. 

Troy Brooks had filed to run against Senator Mike Wilson of Bowling Green in the Republican primary. That was last Monday, and by Friday, he had withdrawn from the race.  His past was likely the reason. 

The Daily News first reported that the former attorney, now businessman, was indicted in 2005 on charges of theft and disbarred in Tennessee.  The case arose from the misappropriation of about $185,000 from clients.  Brooks did not return multiple calls from WKU Public Radio.

According to a 2008 judgment from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Brooks pleaded guilty to four charges of theft over $10,000, while some other charges were dismissed.  Brooks, however, told the newspaper he did not plead guilty and that his record was expunged.  He explained that the charges were not the result of theft, but misunderstandings and disputes over fees. 

“Our Republican Party does not need a hard fought or potentially divisive primary,” Brooks stated in a news release. “I will be supporting Senator Mike Wilson in his re-election efforts.”

Regional
5:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Batter Up! Wounded Fort Knox Soldiers Can Still Enjoy America's Favorite Pastime

A blindfolded Fort Knox soldier takes a swing at the ball during a game of Beep Baseball.
Credit Lisa Autry

Inside a gym on the Fort Knox Army post, a group of soldiers show up ready to play ball, but not in jerseys and cleats. 

The uniform here is camouflage.

BJ Levis has come to Fort Knox to introduce Beep Baseball.  Levis works for Metro Parks and Recreation in Louisville.  One of the programs she oversees is adaptive sports for people with disabilities. 

“A lot of times when people have a recent injury and their life has changed it’s like 'I’m not going to be able to do anything I could do before,'" says Levis.  "We like to introduce different sports and say 'Yes you can.'  There’s just some simple adaptations or some simple equipment you might need so you still can participate in sports or start some you’ve never even done before which is really cool.”

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Agriculture
12:25 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Kentucky Leaders Seek Hemp Answers from Federal Government

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

Kentucky’s elected leaders are again asking the federal government whether or not the commonwealth can legally grow industrial hemp.  Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and some members of Kentucky's congressional delegation have sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The letter asks the DEA to clarify its position on industrial hemp.  A Justice Department memo issued in August provides guidance concerning marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana.  Commissioner Comer believes industrial hemp should be treated the same way. 

"Recognizing the intent of the Aug. 29 memo, it would defy common sense to allow states to move forward with marijuana activity, but ignore states that have passed laws allowing for the production of industrial hemp," writes Comer. 

The letter is also signed by U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Congressmen Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth.  The letter puts the government on notice that Kentucky will move forward with hemp production unless the state hears otherwise.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 50 in the 2013 session that sets up a regulatory framework for hemp production.

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