Rick Howlett

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years.   Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is joining dozens of other attorneys general to urge health insurers to review their policies for pain management treatment, in an effort to spark higher use of alternatives to opioid prescriptions.

Beshear and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Monday announced the bipartisan coalition’s efforts in the ongoing fight to end opioid addiction.

Rick Howlett

About two-dozen demonstrators held signs and delivered speeches Tuesday outside the Louisville office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding that McConnell hold President Donald Trump accountable for comments he made following this month’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Louisville protest was organized by Melissa Byrne of the group UltraViolet. According to its Facebook page, the group “works on a range of issues, including health care, economic security, violence, and reproductive rights.”

NPR

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is “zero chance” Congress will allow the country to default on its debt by voting to not increase the borrowing limit.

McConnell’s comments came Monday during a joint appearance in Louisville with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin said it is his “strong preference” that Congress pass a “clean” increase to the debt limit, meaning the legislation would have no other proposals attached to it that would make it more difficult to pass. He also said simplifying the nation’s tax code is a priority.

J. Tyler Franklin

The University of Louisville has filed its appeal of punishment handed down by the NCAA for violations committed to the men’s basketball program.

The penalties were imposed after an investigation into allegations that former staff member Andre McGee arranged stripper shows and sex parties for Cardinal players and recruits over a nearly four-year period.

Erica Peterson

A Maysville woman who died while trying to save her children from a house fire and a man who rescued a truck driver from a burning vehicle were honored in a ceremony Monday in Frankfort.

Lori Kearney and Lou Scharold were awarded the national Carnegie Hero Medal during the ceremony hosted by Gov. Matt Bevin. The award recognizes people “who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others.” According to Bevin’s office, more than 150 Kentuckians have earned the honor since it was established by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

NPR

With Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, the U.S. Senate voted by a hair Tuesday to start debating Republican legislation to tear down much of the Affordable Care Act.

The vote gives President Donald Trump and GOP leaders a crucial initial victory but launches a weeklong debate promising an uncertain final outcome.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said after the vote that the Senate will now begin considering amendments from both parties.

Rick Howlett

An anti-abortion group has dropped its challenge of a federal restraining order that keeps it from blocking the entrance to the only clinic still performing abortions in Kentucky.

Last week, a federal judge established a buffer zone to prevent protesters from assembling in front of Louisville’s EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

The group Operation Save America is holding anti-abortion protests at the clinic this week as part of its conference in Louisville.

Operation Save America had argued that the buffer zone was heavy handed and kept protesters from exercising their free-speech rights.

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Family, friends and former teammates and colleagues are paying tribute to Jim Bunning. The former U.S. Senator, Congressman and baseball Hall-of-Famer died Friday night. He was 85.

Bunning had suffered a stroke in October at his home in Southgate, Kentucky.

By the time Jim Bunning decided to enter politics, he already had a distinguished baseball career behind him. Bunning pitched for four teams during his 17-year career, mainly for Detroit and Philadelphia.

He’s still the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in both the National and American leagues. The second one, on Father’s Day, 1964, was a perfect game, as Bunning’s Phillies blanked the New York Mets.


J. Tyler Franklin

A Jefferson County grand jury has declined to return an indictment in connection with the sex scandal involving the University of Louisville men’s basketball program.

A criminal investigation was launched following the publication of the book “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” in which author Katina Powell claimed she was paid by former basketball staff member Andre McGee to provide strippers and prostitutes to Cardinal players and recruits.

A statement from Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine says there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Powell or McGee.

Rogerd/WikimediaCommons

Indiana state lawmakers have returned to their districts after adjourning the 2017 General Assembly early Saturday.

The Republican-led legislature met a goal set by GOP leaders to pass an ambitious plan to improve Indiana’s roads and bridges.

Indiana Public Broadcasting Statehouse reporter Brandon Smith said the plan will eventually raise $1.2 billion annually through an increase in the fuel tax and motor vehicle fees.

Wikimedia Commons

One of the lawyers for the Kentucky doctor dragged from a United Express flight said his client suffered a “significant” concussion and other injuries during the incident.

Attorney Thomas Demetrio at a news conference Thursday said that doctor David Dao has been discharged from a hospital, but the 69-year-old will need more medical attention.

“He had a serious broken nose, injury to the sinuses and he is going to be undergoing shortly, reconstructive surgery in that regard,” said Demetrio. “There’ve been a lot of inquiries about ‘did he really lose any teeth?’ Yeah, he lost two front teeth.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/KMJ Photography Australia

The Belle of Louisville steamboat is getting a new companion vessel. The Belle’s management team and the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation are purchasing the Georgia Queen based in Savannah. 

“It was built back in 1985, right across the river in Utica, Indiana at Marine Builders," said Belle CEO John Boyle.  "The boat is approximately 90 feet long, 30 feet wide and has a capacity for about 565 people.”

The Georgia Queen is smaller than the 102-year-old Belle of Louisville, but larger than the Spirit of Jefferson, which it’s replacing. The aging Spirit of Jefferson will be put up for sale when the Georgia Queen purchase is complete. 

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says he spoke to Donald Trump Wednesday and congratulated the president-elect on his victory in Tuesday’s election. Republicans also maintained their majorities in the House and Senate.

McConnell says Trump’s victory came in a “stunning” election.

“And clearly an indication that the American people would like to try something new,” he says. “And I know the speaker shares my view that we would like to see the country go in a different direction and intend to work with him to change the course for America.”

McConnell says he expects Trump to act quickly in nominating someone to fill the Supreme Court vacancy and to initiate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

U of L

United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was in Louisville Monday to accept the Brandies Medal, awarded by the University of Louisville.

It’s named in honor of Louisville native, Justice Louis Brandeis, who began serving on the high court a century ago.

Kagan says she’s long admired Brandeis, especially the prescience of his judicial opinions.

“He really had a sense of like, what was coming down the pike,” she said. “Sometimes decades away. The best example of this is his dissent in ‘Olmstead,’ where he basically, there he is in like 1920 or something, and he’s foreseeing the surveillance state that we’re now thinking about.”

Kagan was also interviewed by two U of L law school professors, but did not discuss any specific cases from her tenure on the court.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Louisville has been chosen for a federal pilot program aimed at attacking the city’s heroin and prescription opioid problem.

The program, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, is called the “360 Strategy.” It takes a multi-faceted approach to the problem and will involve law enforcement, medical and public health organizations and service groups.

It will include the formation of a Heroin Investigation Team, made up of Louisville Metro Police detectives and DEA agents.

U.S. Attorney John Kuhn said the team will investigate overdoses as crime scenes. Dealers whose drugs cause overdoses will be prosecuted in federal court and could go to prison for 20 years to life without parole, he said.

“Today, we have a message for heroin dealers,” Kuhn said. “You are killing people in this city, and we cannot allow this to continue.”

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