News in Brief

House GOP, Beshear clash over attorney’s fees

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican lawmakers want to limit how much money outside attorneys hired by the state can earn in complex cases, a move Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear says would have the state sending rookies to battle against the pros.

The attorney general’s office will sometimes hire outside attorneys to help with large cases. Those attorneys don’t get paid unless they win the lawsuit. They take a percentage from the settlement or judgment.

House Bill 281 would cap how much those outside attorneys could earn depending on how much money the state recovered, but no fee would exceed $10 million.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Jason Nemes said it would save taxpayers money. But Beshear said it would hinder his ability to take on multinational corporations, including drug and oil companies.


State audit ordered for Jefferson County Public Schools

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s education chief is launching what he calls an “unprecedented” audit of the Jefferson County Public Schools system.

Media outlets report Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt released a report Tuesday detailing 32 findings concerning student safety, poor culture and communication at JCPS.

The reason for the audit, Pruitt says, is mainly due to issues related to student safety, including the use of restraint and seclusion.

The audit could lead to a report with a list of recommendations for the district, or could even lead to a state takeover of the school system. It’ll be conducted by department staff and outside experts.

Pruitt says he hopes to start the audit in about a month and to finish it by the end of the school year.


Officials: 15-year-old Princeton boy killed by single shot

PRINCETON (AP) — Princeton police are trying to piece together why a 15-year-old boy was shot dead.

Princeton Police Chief Don Weedman tells local media that police responded around 8 p.m. Monday to a neighborhood, where they found De’Aryn Hamilton lying in the street.

Hamilton was taken to Caldwell County Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Caldwell Coroner Dwayne Trafford says the teen was shot once, but wouldn’t specify where the bullet struck.

Police are investigating Hamilton’s death as a homicide. Weedman says the shooting is believed to be an isolated incident and “the public is not in danger.”

The case remains under investigation. Weedman says that as of Tuesday evening, no arrests had been made and no suspect had been identified.


DNR: Bear believed hibernating in Indiana may awaken soon

MADISON, Ind. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a black bear believed hibernating in southern Indiana will likely awaken soon from its winter slumber.

Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources says the bear was spotted last November in the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge and likely hibernated in that refuge just north of the Ohio River city of Madison.

The DNR says the bear could emerge from hibernation as soon as mid-February, depending on weather conditions.

DNR nongame mammologist Taylor Rasmussen is urging residents near the refuge to secure garbage cans, remove bird feeders and other food sources to keep the bear leery of humans.

It’s only the second wild black bear confirmed in Indiana since the 1870s. Officials believe it swam across the Ohio River last summer from Kentucky, which has a growing bear population.


Lake Between the Lakes planning several prescribed burns

GOLDEN POND (AP) — The Forest Service says it plans to conduct several prescribed burns this year at Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.

Fire Management Specialist Todd Lerke says in a statement that officials plan to burn a total of about 940 acres in different sections of Land Between the Lakes, which manages more than 170,000 acres in western Kentucky and Tennessee as part of the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Agriculture’s public lands program. The statement says crews will begin conducting the burns in February.

Some of the areas that will be affected include Hillman Ferry Campground, Piney Campground, Homeplace 1850s Farm and part of the Elk & Bison Prairie.

The Forest Service uses prescribed burns in high use areas to reduce accumulation of dry fuels.

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