A statewide smoking ban will again come before lawmakers when they head back to Frankfort in January, but just how much support such a measure will have is unclear. “There is no question that it would save the state money in terms of what it pays out for Medicaid,” said state Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. “We certainly are a high-smoking state and that is based on our tobacco-growing tradition,” Richards said. “I could support a statewide smoking ban, depending on how it’s written, because I think it’s one of those laws that right now have a patchwork across the state and people don’t know from one community to the next whether they have one.”
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate lifted a restraining order Thursday against a group called Restoring America after the group revealed its donors, a requirement of Kentucky campaign finance law. Restoring America said it got nearly $1.4 million from Terry Stephens of Russell Springs. He is the father-in-law of Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams. Restoring America had been airing TV commercials promoting Williams in the governor's race and criticizing Gov. Steve Beshear.
Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent in September from 9.5 percent in August, according to the Office of Employment and Training. The preliminary September jobless rate was half a percentage point below the 10.2 percent rate recorded for the state a year ago.
As Pike County officials continue to celebrate strides toward establishing commercial air service at the Pikeville-Pike County Airport, Congressman Hal Rogers chose instead to focus on the state of the coal industry during a visit to Pikeville this week. At an event at the University of Pikeville on Wednesday, Rogers vowed to “reign in” the Environmental Protection Agency and to continue to resist the Obama Administration’s “war on coal.”
State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) is taking dead aim at employers who hire people in the country illegally. Montell this week prefiled a bill that he said he hopes will reduce the number of employees who are in the state illegally by putting more restrictions – and potential penalties – for those who do the hiring. Montell announced Wednesday that he will introduce BR 58 at the 2012 legislative session that would require all employers with more than 11 workers to use E-Verify, a system that checks Social Security numbers for authenticity.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office has ruled that the Whitley County Clerk's Office subverted the intent of the state's open records act by not allowing a man to use a personal handheld scanner or a camera without a flash to copy county records rather than pay the 50-cent per page charge to the clerk's office.
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails.
An anesthesiologist from Louisa, who is also the former owner of two Eastern Kentucky pain clinics, is among five persons indicted by a Lawrence County Grand Jury. Attorney General Jack Conway said Dr. Lee Adam Balaklaw, 56, was indicted on 20 counts of Medicaid fraud following an investigation into his billing practices at Anesthesia Associates of Louisa.
Attorney General Jack Conway Monday announced the arraignment in Fayette Circuit Court of a former provider in the Kentucky Medicaid Supports for Community Living (SCL) program following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control.
A Kentucky coal mine is now under extra scrutiny after it became the fourth to be recently placed on a ‘potential pattern of violations’ status by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. If the mine operator doesn’t rectify the problems, the mine can be shut down when serious violations are discovered. But this process is one that mine safety advocates would like to change.
Nearly 50 people gathered on the Old Capitol lawn Saturday to rally for job creation and against Washington, possibly rehearsing for future protests. Sponsored by the local chapter of MoveOn.org, a public policy group for “democracy in action,” the hour-long rally featured several speakers, including Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, who expressed their concerns with the government and the nation’s lackluster economy. Members of MoveOn.org organized the rally after being inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, which denounce economic inequality, particularly focusing on the 1 percent of people who control about a third of the nation’s wealth.
After criticizing President Barack Obama’s jobs bill that was presented in September, Kentucky’s two U.S. senators were among a Republican group last week to introduce an alternative plan. Both Rand Paul of Bowling Green and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were on hand Thursday in Washington for the introduction of the “Jobs Through Growth Plan.” U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also helped introduce the plan.
Tom Springer argues that coal miners seeking compensation for black lung disease should be treated no differently than other workers who have the disease. The Madisonville attorney has presented oral arguments before the Kentucky Supreme Court, which should decide within the next few months whether the Court of Appeals was correct in finding the current black lung statute unconstitutional.
The former administrator of a Letcher County personal care home that was recently shut down by the state pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge that he took thousands of dollars from residents. James F. "Chum" Tackett, who also was a former mayor of Jenkins, agreed to a sentence of two years and two days in prison. He also agreed to repay $113,547 that he admitted taking from residents, according to court documents.
Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker announced Thursday she was diagnosed with breast cancer and is telling the public to help raise awareness that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walker was diagnosed during a routine mammogram last week, where she learned after follow-up tests that the tumor was cancerous. Walker is among 3,000 women and men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Kentucky this year.
The Fort Campbell soldier, unsuccessfully tried four times in civilian court on murder charges, will appear in military court Friday for an investigation into the same charges. Sgt. Brent Burke is scheduled to appear for an Article 32 hearing Friday morning on murder charges filed by the Army. The hearing is similar to a grand jury proceeding.
The three candidates for Kentucky governor have different reasons for seeking the state’s highest office. Steve Besheaer, David Williams and Gatewood Galbraith stated their views in a statewide debate last night at Eastern Kentucky University. It was the first time this fall all three candidates were together for a debate.
For the first time in the general election, the three candidates for governor of Kentucky will debate tonight. Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear, Republican David Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith last appeared together in early August at the Fancy Farm picnic. Beshear has drawn criticism for refusing to attend debates and forums with his opponents. And the three will have only two full-fledged debates before election day. The first is tonight in Richmond, Kentucky. The second will be on the 31st on KET. The Kentucky Broadcasters Association and the League of Women Voters are sponsoring the event.
Kentucky's September General Fund tax receipts rose by 10 percent compared to year ago figures. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, General Fund receipts are up nearly 5 percent. August figures were down sharply but enjoyed a healthy rebound in September, according to state Budget Director Mary Lassiter.
State lawmakers heard a variety of opinions on how to limit methamphetamine production today. The number of meth labs in Kentucky has been increasing for years. The drug manufacturer group Consumer Healthcare Products told the Joint Committee on the Judiciary the state should create a database of people who have been convicted of meth-related crimes. Those listed would be blocked from purchasing cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used to make meth.
A Frankfort man no longer faces a charge of organized crime after the prosecution and defense agreed there is not enough criminal evidence for the case. Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks and public defender Kristin Gonzalez agreed during a pretrial conference the case lacked evidence to charge Henry Earl Penn Jr. with organized crime. Instead, Penn, 42, faces two counts of trafficking in Percocet and cocaine.
People in Guthrie will not have to leave the city, Todd County or state to buy alcohol in the near future, following the results of a special election Tuesday. Residents voted overwhelmingly to expand alcohol sales in the city, with 196 votes cast in favor of the change and 62 against.
Voters said "yes" to alcohol sales in Junction City by the slimmest of margins Tuesday. The final tally for the three precincts, all located at First Baptist Church of Junction City, was 198-195. The outcome of the election opens the door for retail beer sales and package liquor stores.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed an executive order Monday expanding membership of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council to add representatives from three of the state’s largest law enforcement training academies. The order adds officials from the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Police and the Louisville Metro Police Department to the council.
Gov. Steve Beshear Monday signed an executive order expanding membership of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council to include representatives of the state’s three law enforcement training academies. The executive order adds representatives of the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Police and the Louisville Metro Police Department to the council.
Interstate 65 is a major U.S. artery cluttered with billboards advertising everything from fast food to health care services. In the case of a set owned by a Scottsville real estate developer, a billboard is an opportunity to evangelize to the traveling public. Jimmy Harston owns three billboards in the counties of LaRue (“Hell Is Real”), Hart (“If you died today where would you spend eternity”) and Warren (“Jesus Saves”). In 2008, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet filed a civil suit to force Harston to remove the billboards because Harston did not have a permit to erect the signs.
When a 3-month-old infant was thrown to the floor by her father, scarring her for life, Will Constable’s organization stepped in. Constable, executive director of the local Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, sees his share of disturbing child abuse cases. He works with several others - from social workers to physicians - to protect children and get help for families. As child abuse continues to plague families throughout the area, those organizations are making a unified effort to combat the problem.
By Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader
Larry Joe Lee was worried about his mother. Carolyn Lee was recovering from heart surgery at her Lebanon farm. When her son called her on Wednesday, Aug. 3, "he told me to take care of myself and that he loved me." Phone calls from her second-oldest child weren't always pleasant. Larry Joe Lee, 32, had a brain injury, was schizophrenic, bipolar and diabetic. Sometimes, he would get agitated and say hurtful things to his parents on the phone. But on that Wednesday, Larry Joe, as his family called him, was having a good day. It was the last time she talked to him.
Winchester is asking the Franklin County Circuit Court to issue a declaratory judgment that the state telecommunications tax is unconstitutional. Through the Kentucky League of Cities, to which Winchester belongs, the city, along with Greensburg, Mayfield and Florence, filed a lawsuit Sept. 23 because of millions in tax revenue lost since the Jan. 1, 2006, enactment of the legislatio