Tuesday, March 01, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-2-'11
- Monday, the House passed Senate Bill 66, which would change the makeup of the East Kentucky Expo Center board. Currently, Governor Steve Beshear appoints all of the board’s members. However, the city of Pikeville is taking over $600,000 in the expo center’s debt. SB 66 would allow Pikeville Mayor Frank Justice II and Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford to appoint some board members. The measure now heads to Governor Steve Beshear for his veto or signature.
- Police searched unsuccessfully Monday and Tuesday for 25 year old Ryan Larke of London, a camper missing in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Laurel County. Larke was camping with four others in an area about 10 miles west of London when he left the campsite alone around 6:30 P.M. Saturday. Companions searched for Larke before calling the sheriff's office just before 5:00 P.M. Sunday. Tuesday, authorities searched the heavily wooded area with the help of a helicopter and dog teams. Larke moved from Wisconsin to London, where he has relatives, several months ago to look for a job.
- First Lady Jane Beshear visited the Big Sandy Community and Technical College Campus in Paintsville Tuesday as part of her state tour this week promoting literacy. Beshear said education is the basis for everything that will make changes for the future of Kentucky, and students should re-train for the jobs available today and the jobs for tomorrow.
- Attorney David Nolan filed a motion late Monday night asking a judge to allow Karen Cunagin Sypher to remain free until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on her case. On February 18th, Sypher was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison for trying to extort Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino to stay quiet about a sexual encounter between the two in 2003. Nolan says Sypher isn't a danger to anyone, and the judge made multiple errors in the trial. Prosecutors have until March 17th to respond to the motion.
- An appeal in a lawsuit alleging election fraud in Magoffin County has been dismissed. John P. Montgomery, a Republican who lost to incumbent Judge-Executive Charles "Doc" Hardin, and incumbent Sheriff Randall Bob Jordan, a Democrat who lost to challenger Carson Montgomery last November, had filed the lawsuit in circuit court asking to have the election overturned because of alleged vote-buying. A special judge said it was clear there was vote-buying, but the judge dismissed the case, ruling there was insufficient evidence that the winning candidates took part in buying votes or knew it was going on. Montgomery and Jordan appealed the decision. The three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals said the request to review the case was filed after the deadline. Randall E. Salyer, 54; Patricia L. Trusty, 43; and Donald Trusty, 43, have been indicted on federal charges of buying votes in the election.
- An October 10th trial has been scheduled for Darren Moore after his attempted murder case ended in a mistrial last week. KSP Trooper Jesse Armstrong and Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Berry responded to his home in Sandgap in March 2010 after his wife told 911 dispatchers he had made threats to kill her and any responding law enforcement officers. Once officers arrived at the scene, they attempted to make verbal contact with Moore, but he appeared on the front porch armed with a shotgun. Moore refused commands to drop the weapon, and threatened the officers by pointing the shotgun in their direction. Armstrong and Berry both fired their weapons at him, hitting Moore in the left arm and left leg.
- Federal officials announced Tuesday that Arch Coal will pay $4 million in fines and change some mining practices to settle alleged Clean Water Act violations in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. The deal, between St. Louis-based Arch, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, says Arch will take steps to prevent 2 million pounds of pollutants from entering waterways each year. It will also use a treatment system to reduce the amount of selenium pollution. Senior vice president Paul Lang says Arch had a 99 percent compliance rate between 2003 and 2010, but the company regrets past violations and is committed to taking aggressive steps to see they aren't repeated.
- A Senate committee rejected a proposal Tuesday from Governor Steve Beshear that would have balanced the state's Medicaid budget by using money now that had been intended to cover next year's costs in the state's Medicaid program which provides medical care to some 800,000 of the state's elderly, poor and disabled. The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee revamped Beshear's proposal so that a shortfall in the program of more than $160 million would be made up with across-the-board cuts to other government programs, including education.
- Legislation that would constitutionally protect the right to hunt has been approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The measure, backed by the National Rifle Association, would allow Kentucky voters to decide whether to amend the state Constitution to provide a guarantee that the right to hunt could not be taken away. The NRA is pushing similar measures in state legislatures across the country.
- The House approved House Bill 465 Monday. The bill would allow Governor Steve Beshear to join an interstate racing compact to oversee rules regarding racing and wagering across state lines. The compact would not go into effect until at least six states join it. The interstate compact would help develop uniform rules for the horse racing industry. HB 465 also includes language that ensures the legislature’s administrative regulation committee is aware of possible changes to Kentucky’s racing laws that the interstate compact is working on. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Susan Westrom of Lexington, said she is hopeful the Senate will approve the House version of the interstate racing compact.
- Legislation that would allow Kentucky's registered independents to vote in Democratic or Republican primaries hit a roadblock when it came up one vote short of advancing from the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Republican Senator Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon conceded defeat for his proposal, but promised to try again next year. The bill would have allowed nearly 200,000 Kentuckians registered as independents or affiliated with third parties to take part in Kentucky's primary elections.
- On an 80-17 vote Tuesday, the House gave final approval on legislation that would extend eminent domain rights to pipeline companies that would dispose of carbon dioxide. The bill seeks to allow private companies to obtain easements across private property to develop pipelines to transport carbon dioxide, a byproduct of converting coal to cleaner-burning fuels. Kentucky already allows the use of eminent domain for natural gas and oil pipelines. House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins said building pipelines to transport carbon dioxide is crucial to developing coal gasification and other energy projects in Kentucky.
- Tuesday, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate issued a permanent injunction to prevent the Florida-based Medi-Share program, a Christian insurance program, from operating in Kentucky. The Kentucky Department of Insurance and the attorney general's office took the group to court in June 2002, alleging that the program was an unauthorized health insurer. After years of litigation, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Medi-Share is subject to state regulation. The Medi-Share program serves nearly 40,000 churchgoers in 49 states. Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark says Medi-Share members in Kentucky need to get replacement health insurance coverage.
- The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, one of Kentucky's foremost education advocacy groups, has scheduled a 2:00 P.M. news conference for Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel in Lexington to announce the selection of a new executive director. The group has been active in public education in Kentucky for decades and played a key role in the drafting and passage of the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. The new executive director replaces Robert Sexton, who died last year. Sexton had been executive director of the group since its founding in 1983.
- Democrat State Auditor Crit Luallen will be among the headliners at an event aimed at encouraging more women to run for political office in Kentucky. The political school for women, which is held every two years, is set to begin at 8:00 A.M. Saturday at the Holiday Inn Hurstbourne in Louisville. Luallen will be joined by former state Senator Georgia Powers and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
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