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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Gregory Bourke

A same-sex couple from Louisville will be in Washington Tuesday Kentucky’s gay marriage appeal is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon married in Canada in 2004. 

The couple, along with their teenage daughter and son, will be in the courtroom as the nation’s highest court considers whether Kentucky’s gay marriage ban violates the Constitution. 

State law prevents both Bourke and De Leon from adopting the children.  Only De Leon is listed on their birth certificates.

"This is a potential problem for them because if the adoptive parent were to pass away, then they would not have a legal parent," Bourke tells WKU Public Radio.  "Their life would go into chaos and the stability of the whole family would be at risk."

After raising his children for the past 15 years, Bourke says he wants to legally be recognized as one of their parents.

Bourke and De Leon were the first Kentucky couple to file a federal lawsuit requesting their marriage be recognized in the commonwealth.  It was a family decision, so Bourke says that’s why it’s important for the family to have a seat at the historic hearing.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky says a lot is at stake, including the validity of the Supreme Court should it overturn the majority vote of the people who support traditional marriage. 

"Thirty-nine states have voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman.  That's 51 million people," says Family Foundation founder Kent Ostrander.  "Only 33 million wanted to redefine it."

Ostrander fears that should the court "misjudge" the issue, it could become another Dred Scott or Roe versus Wade decision and further divide the country. 

The Supreme Court hearing comes after a federal appeals court ruled last year to uphold marriage restrictions in Kentucky and three other states.

Pointing to strong tax collections, state budget officials say Kentucky will likely avoid another budget shortfall. 

Revenues are expected to increase more than three percent in the budget year that ends June 30.  The state ended the 2014 budget year $90 million shortfall. 

While the revenue picture this year is much brighter, House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards of Bowling Green says there are a lot of pent up needs.

"We've not be able to fund public education properly and we certainly haven't been able to fund our universities properly," Richards tells WKU Public Radio.  "The retirement systems are very challenging."

Starting in 2017, the state must also start contributing to the cost of expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. 

Despite more revenue, Richards says it will be difficult to balance all the needs as lawmakers form a new two-year budget next session.

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton on two counts of witness tampering. 

Eaton was convicted in 2013 sentenced to 18 months in prison following his trial on civil rights violations. 

A federal jury acquitted two co-defendants on all charges.  The law enforcement officers were tried for allegedly beating suspect Billy Stinnnett in February 2010 and engaging in a cover-up.  Jurors found Eaton guilty of directing two deputies to write false incident reports for the FBI. 

The U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard Eaton’s appeal in June 2014 and issued a ruling Monday upholding the conviction. 

Kentucky’s May 19 primary is a few weeks away, but for some, voting is already underway. 

Eligible voters can cast mail-in absentee ballots anytime between now Election Day.  Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says absentee voters must have an excuse to vote early.

"We have absentee voting available for individuals who are going to be out of the county on election day because of work, military and overseas voters, individuals who need to vote because of age, disability, or illness," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.

A complete list of eligible absentee voters is available at elect.ky.gov.

Voters can request an absentee ballot application from their county clerk in person or by phone, fax, or email.  Applications must be received by May 12 and the completed absentee ballot must be received by the county clerk's office by 6:00 p.m. local time on election day.

Under a new law, the identities of absentee voters will not be disclosed until after the election.  In the past, absentee ballot application were subject to open records requests, making those voters susceptible to attempts to purchase their votes.

Kentuckians have only a few more days to register to vote in next month’s primary election. 

Voters will pick the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor, as well as the other constitutional offices. 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says Monday, April 20 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 19 primary.

"Go online to elect.ky.gov.  There, you can check your registration status to make sure you are registered," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.  "If you aren't registered, you can download the registration form to make sure you have that sent in time for our deadline."

Kentucky has 3.1 million registered voters.  Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 450,000.

Four finalists have been named in the search for a new superintendent for the Bowling Green school system. 

Allen Barber is the only finalist from out of state.   He’s currently Director of Human Resources and Secondary Education for a school system in Eagle Point, Oregon. 

Other finalists include Bowling Green High School Principal Gary Fields, Hart County Assistant Superintendent Wesley Waddle, and Mark Owens, Director of Personnel for Daviess County Public Schools. 

"All four candidates have been successful in leadership positions, come highly recommended, and the screening committee using the criteria established by the board of education determined these four were the best fit for the position," says Phil Eason, a consultant with the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

The four finalists were narrowed down from an applicant pool of 16. 

The public is invited to meet the finalists at forum on April 28 at Bowling Green Junior High School at 6:00 p.m. 

The Board of Education plans to hire the next superintendent by mid-May.  Current Superintendent Joe Tinius is retiring June 30.

U.S. Postal Service

The April 15 tax deadline is two days away.  For the roughly ten percent of Americans who still mail their returns, the postal service has a few reminders. 

Filers can no longer wait until the last minute to get to the post office.

"Because more people are filing online, post offices aren't open until midnight like they used to be," says David Walton, a spokesman for the USPS Kentuckiana District.  "Most post offices are open during their regular hours, so that's one things customers want to keep in mind."

If depositing returns in a blue collection box, tax filers should double-check the pick-up schedule on the label.  To ensure getting the April 15 postmark, deposit returns before the last scheduled pick-up time. 

Also, make sure to have sufficient postage and include a return address on the envelope.

According to the IRS website, penalties may apply to those who don’t file or pay all the taxes they owe by Wednesday’s deadline.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has made it official.  Hours before a planned announcement at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, the Bowling Green Republican announced on his website Tuesday morning that he is seeking the GOP nomination for president.

"I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government," Paul said in a statement online.

Paul is continuing a family tradition by seeking the presidency.  His father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 and 2012.

Rand Paul becomes the second Republican to formally announce a 2016 bid for the White House.

Tuesday, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green is likely to step onto the biggest stage in politics.  U.S. Senator Rand Paul is expected to announce his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. 

In November 2010, Kentucky voters sent Paul to Washington in the midst of a national Tea Party movement. 

"I have a message, a message from the people of Kentucky, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," Paul exclaimed in his election night victory speech.  "We've come to take our government back!"

Now, Paul is seeking a bigger platform for his ideas.  After more than a year of fundraising and crisscrossing early-voting states, the freshman senator is about to make his bid for the White House official. 

For a lot of conservatives in Bowling Green, it’s a proud moment.  Gayla Warner has known Paul and his family for almost two decades.  Besides the person, she likes what he stands for politically.

”The first thing that comes to mind is his dedication to make our federal government smaller, and with that is lowering taxes, and reducing spending," says Warner.

Several years ago, she couldn’t have imagined her neighbor running for the highest office in the land.

"Now that he has entered the realm of politics, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched at all to me," she adds.

Bowling Green eye doctor Robert Duvall knows Paul personally and professionally.

”As eye care providers, I can tell you he’s always been a man of impeccable integrity.  I’ve always trusted him with patients, but I also trust him to lead the country," states Duvall.  "He’s smart, determined, and willing to make tough decisions.”  

College Republicans from WKU gathered at a local coffee shop are nearly unanimous in their support of Paul, who polls best among youth voters.  Senior Zach Imel says when it comes to technology, Paul gets it.

”He’s very good with social media and getting his message out to where the youth are," explains Imel.  "Twitter, Facebook, and he’s even on Snapchat.  I think that’s very cool.”

But senior Meghan McGuirk isn’t so much a Rand fan.

”I think his attempt to run for both the Senate primary and the presidential primary indicates he’s considering more his own career, in my eyes, than what would be best for the people of this state or the United States," she suggests.

Meghan thinks Paul’s efforts to run for two offices simultaneously creates difficulties for the state Republican party.  She worries moving Kentucky’s presidential primary to a caucus will limit the number of people who are able to vote.

Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky’s education commissioner is leaving the post at the end of summer.

Terry Holliday announced his retirement Wednesday during the state Board of Education meeting in Frankfort.  Looking back on his five-year tenure, Holliday said he’s proud of the results.

"We're seeing a much higher graduation rate and a higher percentage of graduates who are ready for college level work, either four-year degrees or technical degrees," Holliday told WKU Public Radio.

He cited lower dropout rates and higher test scores among his other achievements. 

Despite major strides, Holliday said the state of education in Kentucky is still a work in progress.

"We've moved from the bottom of the states to above the national average in most regards," added Holliday.  "I think Kentucky education is in great shape right now, but it still has a lot of work to do."

Under Holliday’s leadership, Kentucky implemented the controversial Common Core education standards, which are currently under review for possible modification. 

Holliday’s retirement is effective August 31. 

In 2012, the state Board of Education approved a four-year extension to his initial contract.  The contract was to run through August 2017 at a salary of $225, 000 per year.

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