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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Economy
12:07 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Former Kentucky Budget Director: No "Money for Anything"

Despite the end of the economic recession and a growth in state revenue, Kentucky’s budget will remain tight. Former Budget Director, now Cabinet Secretary Mary Lassiter will address a joint House and Senate budget committee Tuesday.

She is expected to say state programs and agencies should not expect cuts in recent years to be restored in the next State budget.  Lassiter tells the Courier-Journal, “There’s no money for anything.” 

Lassiter says any new revenue in the state budget passed in 2014 budget will be consumed by additional spending required for pensions, Medicaid, and replacing one-time funds being spent on recurring needs in the current budget.  She declined to say if the tight long-term revenue outlook will also be the theme of the State of the Commonwealth address Gov. Steve Beshear is to deliver Wednesday night.

Politics
12:20 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Kentucky Legislature Considers Keeping Drunk Drivers from Early Release

A Jefferson County mother is pleading with Kentucky lawmakers to end shock probation for those convicted of killing someone while driving intoxicated.  Debbie Moskwa testified Thursday before a judiciary committee in Frankfort.  Her son was killed by a drunk driver and her husband severely injured in the accident. 

"We believed those that killed Ricky would be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Moskwa.  "

Little did we know we would be inflicted with more pain by hearing shock probation was granted after the person served only eight months of a 13-year sentence."

Moskwa testified in support of a bill sponsored by Representative Julie Adams.  The measure would prohibit shock probation if a person is convicted of second-degree manslaughter or reckless homicide while under the influence of alcohol.  Similar bills in past session have failed to clear both the House and Senate.

Business
3:30 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

More Work Coming to Bowling Green Corvette Plant

The 2014 Corvette Stingray
Credit Lisa Autry

General Motors is enhancing its footprint in Bowling Green. Officials gathered at the Corvette plant Wednesday to announce a $3.5 million investment. The automaker is moving its performance built center from Michigan to Bowling Green.

The center specializes in building high performance engines. GM Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones says the move is expected to create or retain 20 jobs. 

“We’re working out the details with the international union and ourselves on how we’re going to bring those folks down, but they have the right to follow the work," said Jones.

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Regional
2:14 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Two Iraqis Receive Different Sentences in Kentucky's First Terrorism Trial

Mohanad Shareef Hammadi (left) and Waad Ramadan Alwan

Audio of Lisa Autry's report on Tuesday's sentencing of Alwan and Hammadi

Two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green who admitted sending weapons and money to Al-Qaeda in Iraq were sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green. Both Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanned Shareef Hamaddi admitted taking part in insurgent activities in Iraq prior to arriving in the U.S. in 2009.  Federal authorities found Alwan's fingerprint on an unexploded bomb in Iraq and launched an investigation.

The Iraqi men were arrested in 2011 after they agreed to help a government informant load cash and weapons into a tractor-trailer they were told was destined for Al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

Over the course of five hours, each man separately received his punishment. First to enter the courtroom was the 31-year-old Alwan. Wearing prison orange, he sat next to his interpreter, and appeared unmoved by the piercing stares from the courtroom audience. Justice Department Attorney Larry Schneider said Alwan was interested in becoming the leader of a terrorist cell in the U.S. and that he recruited Hammadi, describing him as "worth his weight in gold," and as an "experienced" insurgent.

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Regional
4:00 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Sentencing Set for Tuesday in Kentucky's First Terrorism Case

Mohanned Shareff Hammadi (left), Raad Ramadan Alwan (right)

Nearly two years after their arrest in Bowling Green, a pair of Iraqi nationals will be sentenced Tuesday on terrorism-related charges.

Prosecutors say Mohanned Shariff Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan came to Bowling Green in 2009 and soon after began trying to send cash and weapons to al-Qaeda in Iraq.  The local case raised many national security issues. 

Although both Alwan and Hammadi had been arrested by Iraq security forces in 2006 they were allowed to enter the U.S. as refugees. That highlighted gaps in the screening process, and there was also a debate about the proper location for the trial of Alwan and Hammadi. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell argued the men were foreign fighters and should be treated as such.

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Politics
1:58 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Poll: At Least One-Third of Kentucky Voters Plan to Oppose McConnell for Re-election

In a new poll, nearly twice as many Kentucky voters who have made up their minds say they will vote against U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014, as opposed to those who say they will definitely support him. The poll comes as both conservative and progressive groups are mobilizing to recruit candidates to challenge McConnell. 

The Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll finds 34 percent of registered voters plan to vote against McConnell while 17 percent say they would give him another six years. Forty-four percent are undecided and say they will wait to see who is running against him. 

Arguing McConnell is too moderate, more than a dozen tea party groups from across the state say they are actively recruiting someone to challenge McConnell in the GOP primary and their top priority is to ultimately retire the five-term senator.

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Politics
8:42 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Kentucky Governor Talks Legislative Priorities, Including Tax Reform, Hemp, and Gambling

Gov. Steve Beshear

The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly reconvenes February 5 to take up some major pieces of legislation. Lisa Autry spoke with Governor Steve Beshear about his priorities for the session. The two discussed state pension reform, the prospects of legalizing industrial hemp, Beshear's stance on increasing gambling in the commonwealth, and other topics.

On the subject of casino gambling legislation, Gov. Beshear told WKU Public Radio he isn't optimistic such a bill will pass in this year's General Assembly. The session is only 30 days, leaving little time for the much-discussed issue.

Unlike in the past, however, the Governor says future casino discussions may not focus just on the horse industry. Past legislation called for placing casinos at the state's racetracks, but Beshear says there isn't enough support that idea in the legislature.

He says he's willing to look at having free-standing casinos in the Bluegrass State. Opponents of expanded gaming say the state shouldn't depend on gambling to raise revenue, and some question what they consider overly-optimistic projections of how much money more gaming would really bring to the Bluegrass State.

Business
12:00 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Tax Season Opens Jan. 30, Slighty Behind Schedule

The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns Jan. 30. The IRS had planned to open tax season on Jan. 22, but had to push back the date because of last-minute tax changes Congress made to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. 

Kentucky IRS spokesman Luis Garcia says the agency has had to re-program its computers and forms to reflect the late changes. 

"A lot of work, but we want to make sure the filing season runs as smooth as possible," Garcia replies.  The majority, 81% of people in Kentucky get a refund and we want to make sure that money gets sent as quickly as possible."

Despite the late start to tax season, the filing deadline remains April 15th.  This isn't the first time the IRS has had to deal with late action by Congress.  Two years ago, President Obama and lawmakers were at odds on many of the same issues.  That delayed the opening of tax season to mid-February.

Economy
2:45 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Kentuckians Can Benefit from National Foreclosure Settlement

The state Attorney General's Office says Friday is the last day for Kentuckians to file a claim to receive a payment under the national mortgage settlement.  Thousands of borrowers who lost their homes between 2008 and 2011 may be eligible to receive a payment.

The nation's five largest mortgage servicers agreed to the settlement with the federal government and 49 state attorneys general last year. 

"Basically this settlement settles claims by the attorneys general that during the housing crisis and foreclosure crisis in the United States, these banks had allegedly engaged in fraudulent behavior which included robo signing documents that it filed with the court," said Allison Martin, a spokeswman for the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

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Business
10:17 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Kentucky AG: Constitutional Amendment Needed to Enact Local Option Sales Tax

The mayors of Lexington and Louisville believe Kentucky needs a local option sales tax to stay competitive. The tax is levied temporarily to finance public infrastructure projects, but an opinion issued this week by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says voters would first need to approve a constitutional amendment. 

According to the opinion, local governments nor the General Assembly may enact a local option sales tax without changing the state constitution. The Courier-Journal reports the opinion was requested by the Louisville Metro Council. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray want counties to be able to locally increase the statewide sales tax and use the additional revenue for public projects.  Voters would have to approve the tax and the projects it would fund in a local referendum.

In an opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Jack Conway, the first step would be amending the state constitution.

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