Next Wednesday marks the midway point for the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly. Typically, much of the heavy lifting regarding legislation occurs during the second half of the 60-day session. This winter’s law making exercise seems to be following in that tradition.
As the two bodies work separately toward the common goal of serving the people of Kentucky, they review dozens of proposed bills, some headline grabbing and others not so well known.
One of the not-so-high profile agenda items in the first half of the session has been the nurse practitioner bill. The measure, which gives eligible Kentucky nurse practitioners authority to write prescriptions for non-controlled drugs, sailed through both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature.
Kathy Wheeler is a nurse practitioner who’s celebrating passage.
“We struggle with barriers and barriers keep us from providing care to patients, so the benefit will be to patients. It’s the access to care issue and we’ve got a big need and it’s getting bigger,” said Wheeler.
Law enforcement officers on Kentucky's waterways would have to meet tougher standards to justify stopping and boarding boats under a bill making headway in the Legislature.
The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Sen. Chris Girdler says his bill is aimed at reining in overzealous officers. He says the new standards would put more of the burden on officers to justify inspecting boats.
Boating is a big business in Kentucky, which is home to many lakes and rivers. Girdler says unreasonable searches are bad for business and raise civil and property rights issues.
The acting commissioner for the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Matt Sawyers, says that provision would send a strong message to officers that "discretion and respect" is a key part of their job.
An underground gas line in rural southern Kentucky exploded, sending two people to the hospital and destroying two homes.
Adair County Emergency Management Director Greg Thomas says the explosion happened around 1 a.m. Thursday and left a crater 60 feet around.
Kentucky Emergency Management spokesman Buddy Rogers says both of the injured people were treated and released.
Lindsey Wilson College Student Michael Clinkscales happened to be walking his fiancee to her dorm room when they saw a fireball. He says it looked like the sun rising and lit up the sky orange and red.
The couple called 9-1-1, then got in their car and followed the glow until they reached a road shut down by police. Clinkscales says it wasn't until he got back to his room and turned on the news that he realized how bad the explosion was.
National Corvette Museum officials have called a press conference for Thursday at 3:00 pm. Executive Director Wendell Strode is expected to discuss plans moving forward such as removal of the cars inside the sinkhole and repairs to the Skydome. WKU Public Radio will have someone there and will bring you the latest during All Things Considered.
Bowling Green contractor Scott, Murphy and Daniel has been retained as the construction engineer by the National Corvette Museum to help recover and rebuild following the damage caused by Wednesday morning's sinkhole. Eight classic Corvettes fell into the 25 foot deep by 40 foot wide hole.
Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode said that firm will help devise a plan to recover the cars and save any if possible. And while safety is the top priority, Strode said they want to save the cars "as fast as we can." Strode told the Bowling Green Daily News that he was told by someone at the scene that the cars in the sinkhole had an estimated total value of $1 million.
Strode said he was confident the contracting firm could complete its work by the end of August, in time for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Museum and the projected opening of the NCM Motorsports Park.
Security footage from inside the SkyDome at the time of the sinkhole collapse shows the floor sagging suddenly, with pieces of the floor collapsing and a couple of the cars disappearing below ground.
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green will re-open to the public Thursday after a sinkhole collapse swallowed up eight of the iconic vehicles.
The collapse happened shortly after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Bowling Green Fire Department responded to an alarm triggered by the sinkhole.
Security cameras at the museum captured the collapse, which took place in the Skydome portion of the facility where the museum shows off some of its most invaluable vehicles. Six of the Corvettes that fell into the sinkhole are owned by the museum, with the other two on loan from General Motors.
According to a news release by the museum, all cars on display in the Skydome not affected by the sinkhole have been safely removed from the area. That same release also said a structural engineering firm at the site has determined that the perimeter of the Skydome is stable.
Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode estimated the hole that opened up at the facility is 25 to 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide.
The sinkhole didn't come as a shock to WKU Geology Professor Jason Polk, who says recent rainfall may have played a role in Wednesday's collapse.
A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, striking down part of the state ban.
In 23-page a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II concluded that Kentucky's laws treat gay and lesbians differently in a "way that demeans them." The constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was approved by voters in 2004. The out-of-state clause was part of it.
The decision came in lawsuits brought by four gay and lesbian couples seeking to force the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages.
Heyburn did not rule on whether the state could be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
Kentucky's top state trooper says his agency is suffering from a shortage in manpower.
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told a state House committee that years of flat lining budgets and a proposed 2.5 percent cut under Gov. Steve Beshear’s latest spending plan have put a squeeze on the agency.
Brewer says expenses in employee retirement, healthcare costs and fleet maintenance have led to layoffs.
“It caused us toward the end of last fiscal year to start making some reductions, and I was forced with the very difficult decision to lay off those troopers, which was extremely painful,” said Brewer.
Brewer says nearly two-thirds of KSP troopers make less than $50,000 per year.
Wednesday marks the 205th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Several activities are planned at the Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville. As a part of the commemoration, Lincoln historian Carl Howell will donate an artifact to the park – the grave marker for Abraham Lincoln’s only brother – Thomas Jr. – who died in infancy.
“I think it needs to be displayed in Larue County at the National Park where people can see it on a daily basis because of its extreme importance and significance to the Lincoln heritage,” said Howell.
Howell, a Hodgenville attorney, says he purchased the limestone grave marker in the 1970s from the owner of the small Redmon family cemetery as he was preparing to sell the property.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday the award of a contract to build the first of the twin Lake Bridges in the Jackson Purchase area of western Kentucky.
The contract was awarded to Johnson Brothers Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas. The $131.5 million project will build a modern, four-lane bridge to carry U.S. 68/KY80 over Kentucky Lake and serve the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
“Replacement of the bridges over Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley has been a priority of my administration because of their importance to the tourism industry of western Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said in a news release.
The new bridge will replace the Eggners Ferry Bridge, which was built in 1932 and no longer meets traffic demands in the region.
The Eggners Ferry, joining Marshall and Trigg counties, has two lanes, each 10 feet wide, with no shoulders. The new bridge will have four travel lanes, each 11 feet wide, plus 4-foot shoulders and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path.
The Lake Bridges Project also includes replacement of the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge on Lake Barkley. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet hopes to award a contract for the second bridge by December.