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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Kentuckians can get a jump on tax season by filing their returns electronically. 

The state’s e-filing system for individuals went live Tuesday and will go live for businesses on January 26.

As opposed to by mail, e-filing is now preferred by a majority of Kentuckians.

"Five years ago, we had about 65 percent of individuals who filed electronically, and last year, 84 percent filed online, so that was almost a 30 percent jump," said Pamela Trautner in the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet.

Trautner said e-filing is the fastest way to get your tax refund, usually within 10 days, as compared to possibly two to three months.  Even individuals who owe money to the state can file electronically. 

You can get more information and find a list of taxpayer assistance centers at www.revenue.ky.gov.

Two Grayson County teenagers suspected in a crime spree across the South are expected to return to Kentucky this week to face felony charges. 

Eighteen-year-old Dalton Hayes and his 13-year-old girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips were arrested Sunday in Panama City, Florida after spending 14 days on the lam.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffin knows why Hayes went on the run.

"I don't know what was going through her head, but I know Dalton pretty well.  He just didn't want to face charges for what he was already under possible indictment for," Chaffins told WKU Public Radio.  "He was on bond for burglary and theft charges, so that certainly motivated him to try to get away from taking responsibility for what his actions were."

The sheriff says he has spoken with Hayes and the teen is “very scared” and wants to come home. 

He and Phillips face a host of charges, including burglary, theft, criminal trespassing, and criminal mischief.  Their travels took them to through multiple states and police believe they were getting by on stolen cash and vehicles.

On an 8-1 vote, the Hardin County Fiscal Court has adopted a local right-to-work law.  Magistrate Doug Goodman was the lone dissenter at Tuesday's meeting.  His vote, he says, was to keep taxpayers from having to defend the matter in court.

"We've had so many people say it's legal and then you've had just as many says it's illegal," Goodman told WKU Public Radio.

Hardin County joins Warren, Simpson, Todd, and Fulton counties in passing local right-to-work ordinances, making it illegal for companies to require employees to join a labor union. 

Supporters think the move will help counties compete for jobs, especially with neighboring right-to-work states like Tennessee and Indiana.   Unions argue such measures result in lower wages and less job security.

Hardin County is in line to become the fifth county in Kentucky to pass a local right-to-work law. 

The fiscal court is expected to give final approval Tuesday afternoon to a measure that allows workers in unionized companies to choose whether to join the union and pay dues.  Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry believes a local law is necessary to attract economic growth.

"We have a mega site that's just south of Elizabethtown in a community called Glendale with some 15,000 acres," Berry told WKU Radio Radio.  "It's a large site that is prime and ready to go."

Berry says local leaders are ready to go what Frankfort has not.

"I'd like to see the state do it statewide.  If the state had been successfully over the years of doing it, we wouldn't be in the position of counties trying to do this individually," added Berry.  "You might ask why we haven't done it before now and it's because we didn't realize we had the ability to do it before."

The matter is expected to wind up in court as legal opinions vary on whether local governments have the authority to pass right-to-work laws. 

Hardin County would join Warren, Simpson, Todd, and Fulton counties in approving local measures.

All indications from Frankfort suggest Kentucky counties will continue to take the lead on right-to-work measures. 

A statewide right-to-work bill has cleared the Republican-led state Senate.  The measure prevents union membership and the payment of dues as a condition of employment in the public and private sectors.  However, the Democratic-controlled House has declared the bill dead-on-arrival. 

While views on right-to-work fall mostly along party lines in the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats alike have been embracing ordinances on the county level.  In most cases, the votes have been unanimously. 

Supporters claim the absence of a right-to-work law is an obstacle to economic growth.  Opponents argue the laws are aimed at weakening unions.

Last month, Warren County became the first county in the nation to pass a right-to-work law.  Simpson, Fulton, and Todd counties followed suit, and Hardin County is expected to give final approval of a local measure next week. 

In the meantime, legal opinions differ on whether counties have the authority to pass such measures.  Court challenges are expected.

LRC Public Information

Warren County is well-represented in the Kentucky House this legislative session. 

Democratic State Representative Jody Richards was elected Speaker Pro Tem in leadership elections Tuesday.  Richards takes the number two spot from Larry Clark of Louisville who chose not to seek re-election to the post. 

Richards of Bowling Green is making a return to leadership, having spent 14 years as House Speaker.  He was defeated in 2009 by current Speaker Greg Stumbo. 

Richards told WKU Public Radio he looks forward to tackling the issues, both new and perennial.

"Education, human services, and transportation are issues that recur," stated Richards.  "Of course there are things like the local option sales tax that's fairly new, but generally, the issues are the same."

Another Warren Countian, Representative Jim DeCesare, was elected House Republican Whip.  He replaces Bam Carney of Campbellsville who decided not to seek another term as Whip.

Lisa Autry

The wife of U.S. Senator Rand Paul is preparing to roll out her first book. 

Kelley Paul promoted the book titled “True and Constant Friends” to a gathering Tuesday of the Bowling Green Republican Women’s Club.  The book contains essays about inspiring women. 

Mrs. Paul told WKU Public Radio her inspiration to write the book came from her immigrant grandmother who fled poverty in Ireland in 1929 and traveled alone to the U.S. at a young age.

"I've given a lot of speeches about my grandmother since Rand entered politics because to me she is really the American dream story," commented Paul.

The book is set for release in April, around the same time Senator Paul plans to announce whether he will seek the GOP nomination for president in 2016.

In a nationwide move to become more cost-efficient, the American Red Cross is undergoing a restructuring. 

Smaller chapters are being consolidated into larger chapters that will serve larger geographic regions.  Jennifer Capps heads the South Central Kentucky chapter in Bowling Green which has gone from serving seven counties to 17.  She told WKU Public Radio that the local chapter lost one position, but gained two others, including a major giving officer. 

"With the restructuring, we have some new positions that will allow us to go out and tackle each community and each county with new, fresh eyes," said Capps.  "We know that with 17 counties, every single county  and community has different needs."

Kentucky will go from having 13 chapters to five.  Capps maintains that disaster and emergency relief work will be unaffected. 

The consolidations are aimed at meeting the growing demand for services and making the best use of donor dollars.

Lisa Autry

Against the advice of Kentucky’s attorney general, Warren County Fiscal Court has passed a local right-to-work law, becoming the first county in the nation to do so.

In a 5-1 vote Friday morning, magistrates gave final approval to a measure that would allow private sector workers to choose whether to join a union and pay dues.  The atmosphere was tense as union members from all over the state packed into the courtroom.  An overflow crowd stood outside the chambers, many of them holding signs and wearing union garb.

"Right-to-work is right-to-work for less," said Alton Haycraft with the Carpenters Local 175 in Louisville.  "It's a right to lose your job and be fired for no reason."  Every right-to-work state last year reported a billion dollars or more in lost income taxes due to falling wages."

Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan expressed disappointment after the meeting.

"It was a disrespectful thing they did to the workers of this community who work so hard to build cars and products here," Londrigan told WKU Public Radio.  "Why don't they go after the folks who are shipping our jobs overseas?  Why don't they talk about raising the minimum wage?  Why don't they talk about doing good things instead of interfering with the rights we have to collectively bargain with employers like General Motors?"

Supporters believe right-to-work laws make the state more competitive in attracting jobs.  Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson spoke in favor of the ordinance before the vote was taken.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is expected to issue a ruling soon on whether counties can legally pass right-to-work laws.  For now, the answer depends on who you ask. 

Professor Ariana Levinson teaches labor and employment law at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.  She believes local ordinances aren’t allowed under the National Labor Relations Act.

"It has an exemption in the act that allows states to pass right-to-work laws, but that exemption is strictly limited to states," Levinson told WKU Public Radio.  "It does not permit local sub-divisions like cities, counties, and municipalities to pass right-to-work laws."

Right-to-work supporters claim local measures are allowed under Kentucky's “County Home Rule,” passed by the General Assembly in 1978.  The law delegates the state’s authority to counties to pass laws for the protection and benefit of their citizens, and for the promotion of economic development. 

The Warren County Fiscal Court is expected to give final approval Friday to a local right-to-work law.  Simpson and Fulton counties will take similar votes by the end of the month.

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