Wednesday, May 18, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-19-'11
- Senate President David Williams begins his general election campaign against Governor Steve Beshear down by double digits in the polls, trailing badly in fundraising and coming off a primary election victory in which he received 48 percent of the vote against two opponents who didn’t air a single television commercial. Still, Williams has promised an aggressive campaign and has professed optimism, promising to put together a campaign that will seriously challenge Beshear. Beshear went to Owensboro Wednesday to hand out $200,000 in grants and to Murray to announce 75 new jobs at the Pella Corp. plant. Thursday, he’s heading into the heart of Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District, a Republican stronghold, to make another economic development announcement in Somerset. The bad news for Williams is that any Republican running statewide in Kentucky must win over a sizable number of Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 56 percent to 37 percent. The good news is that Kentucky, despite registration figures, has increasingly voted for Republicans over the past 20 years.
- Prestonsburg police suspect foul play in the death of Brian Jacob Gayheart, who would have been 21 years old Wednesday. His body was found in the Big Sandy River in Boyd County last week, but police believe he was killed in Floyd County where he was last seen alive in the Goble-Roberts area on May 1st. Detective Steve Little says evidence shows foul play is involved, and they have suspects, but police are looking for a motive.
- The Abner Branch Rider Mine in Leslie County has been issued 10 withdrawal orders this month after federal regulators describe it as a pattern of violations mine. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the orders Wednesday, saying inspectors found multiple violations at the Bledsoe Coal Corp's mine in May. Inspectors found the mine roof was not adequately supported to prevent a potential fall in one incident, and inadequate ventilation controls and inadequate roof, rib and face support in another. The agency said the orders resulted in Bledsoe Coal, a subsidiary of James River Coal Co. of Richmond, Virginia, fixing the violations within a day.
- Republican Hilda Legg is planning to ask the state to recanvass votes in the GOP primary for secretary of state in Kentucky. Bill Johnson finished ahead of Legg by about 1,100 votes. Legg said Wednesday she's looking for assurances that every vote was reported accurately. Primary results will be certified Friday. Legg says she intends to request the recanvass after reviewing those official results. A recanvass involves double-checking math and looking for human errors in data entry. Kentucky officials reported few problems and no fraud complaints during the primary election.
- Indians outfielder Austin Kearns is fighting a drunken-driving charge in Kentucky, claiming Lexington Police Officer Todd Hart, the off-duty officer who stopped him on February 12th, was out of his jurisdiction. Hart was headed home to Jessamine County in his marked cruiser when he says he observed a vehicle that was "all over the roadway" and called dispatch. During a hearing Tuesday over a motion to dismiss the charge, Kearns' attorney, Brent Caldwell, argued Hart didn't have the authority to stop his client. Assistant prosecutor Anna Roberts-Smith said the Jessamine County Sheriff's Office authorized Hart to make the stop.
- U.S. Senator Rand Paul is proposing the elimination of the gasoline tax. Paul said he intends to make the proposal an amendment to any energy bill that comes before the Senate. He proposes offsetting the lost revenue with a corresponding reduction in foreign aid and corporate welfare.
- Days after President Barack Obama called for increased U.S. oil production in the face of $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, Democrats and Republicans are battling over how to boost offshore drilling. The Senate wants to speed up decision-making on drilling permits and force the Obama administration to conduct previously scheduled lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia's coast. The sales were suspended after the BP spill. Democrats have focused on repealing billions in tax breaks for large oil companies and called on companies to drill where they hold leases now.
- During a congressional committee hearing in Washington Wednesday, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell pressed to save the jobs of some 1,200 nuclear plant workers in Paducah, calling for the Obama administration to begin re-enriching uranium that's stored there. McConnell told Energy Secretary Steven Chu that the jobs could be spared by re-enriching some 40,000 cylinders of depleted uranium and selling it, allowing the U.S. Department of Energy to turn a profit. Chu said tough decisions have to be made because of budget concerns, but his agency has no plan for re-enriching uranium in Paducah. For more than a decade in the early 1950s to mid-1960s, uranium was enriched for nuclear weapons at the Paducah plant. That ended when the government decided it had accumulated enough material for the nation's weapons program. McConnell also questioned whether the Department of Energy had enough money to safely idle the plant, where a cleanup began in 1988 after radioactivity and other contamination was found in underground water tables. "Certainly, it will be our obligation to clean up if and when Paducah closes down," Chu said.
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