News in Brief

Ky. legislature ‘likely’ to meet Saturday, speaker says

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican House Speaker says it is likely the state legislature will meet on Saturday to pass the first bills of the year.

Speaker Jeff Hoover said passing the bills so quickly would “make a statement” that Republicans are serious about getting things done. Bills that could be voted on Saturday include banning mandatory union membership, repealing the prevailing wage law, requiring a woman to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion and banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Lawmakers opened the 2017 session on Tuesday. They normally take the first week to organize themselves before returning to work in February. But this year, Republicans appear willing to take advantage of their majority to push through priority bills that have died in previous sessions.


House panel OKs requiring ultrasounds prior to abortions

FRANKFORT (AP) — A bill requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds prior to abortions has cleared a Kentucky House committee over objections from abortion-rights advocates.

The measure advanced Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee is a sign of the new political clout by House Republicans. Similar measures stalled when Democrats ran the House.

The bill now goes to the full House, now controlled by Republicans.

The measure would require doctors to display ultrasound images so the pregnant woman may view them. The woman could avert her eyes from the images without risk of penalty.

The hearing included tense exchanges between abortion-rights advocates and lawmakers supporting the measure. Critics said the bill would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

Legislative Republicans are pushing abortion legislation in the first week of this year’s session.


GOP lawmakers advance 2 bills targeting labor unions

FRANKFORT (AP) — House Republicans have advanced two bills targeting labor unions in Kentucky.

A House committee approved bills Wednesday that would ban mandatory labor union membership and repeal the state’s prevailing wage law. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said lawmakers plan to pass the bills this week.

Hundreds of union workers packed the hallways outside of the committee room, chanting “working people matter” and “suits in there, boots out here.” Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan argued the bills would lower wages for all workers. But Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said the bills are necessary for Kentucky to attract new jobs.

Union workers booed and beat on the walls as Bevin was speaking. Bevin urged the lawmakers to ignore them and “do the right thing.”


State finalizes $95K fine for radioactive dump at landfill

FRANKFORT (AP) — State officials have finalized an agreement with an eastern Kentucky disposal company that illegally dumped low-level radioactive fracking waste.

The state Energy and Environment Cabinet says it has signed an agreed order that proposed a $95,000 civil penalty for Advance Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. The agreement was proposed in October.

The state cabinet’s investigation revealed that 92 loads of waste were illegally brought from West Virginia to the Blue Ridge site in violation of state law. The waste is classified as “technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials.”

The agreement requires Blue Ridge to deposit $60,000 of the fine into an escrow account for the Estill County School District to pay toward the detection and mitigation of naturally occurring radon or establishing educational programs related to environmental sciences.


Group home resident charged with killing employee

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — A sheriff says a man who lived at a group home in central Kentucky has been charged with murder in the slaying of a female employee.

Hardin County Sheriff John Ward says 32-year-old Lindale Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday morning in the slaying of 66-year-old Sally Berry, who worked at the facility in Elizabethtown. News media are quoting Ward as saying that another employee arrived to work at the ResCare facility Tuesday night and found the victim lying “in a pool of blood.” He said she died from multiple stab wounds.

Ward says Cunningham told deputies he stabbed Berry, but he said authorities have not determined a motive for the slaying.

Cunningham was being held in the Hardin County jail. Online jail records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney.


Louisville judges ordered to allow traffic program

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A circuit judge has ruled that two district judges committed a “great injustice” when they refused to let motorists participate in a traffic school run by the Jefferson County Attorney’s office.

Circuit Judge McKay Chauvin wrote in a Dec. 28 opinion that Judges Sean Delahanty and Stephanie Pearce Burke acted illegally by barring citizens from enrolling in Drive Safe Louisville, a two-hour online course, to get their driving citations dismissed. The course also requires a $179 fee.

News outlets report Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell is one of 89 county attorneys who launched their own traffic programs to raise revenue for their offices under a 2012 state law.

Delahanty and Burke said the program allows cases to be dismissed without judicial overview and invades the power of the courts.


Forum planned to discuss growth at Kentucky Horse Park

LEXINGTON (AP) — Officials are inviting the public to have a say about the future of the Kentucky Horse Park.

The park says in a statement that it will hold an open forum Jan. 11 to discuss ideas for long-term growth at the sprawling tourist attraction in Kentucky’s scenic bluegrass country. The visioning session will be held at the North Exhibit Hall of the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The park, which opened in 1978, features a chance to see several champion thoroughbred and Standardbred horses, an area dedicated to different horse breeds, and museums dedicated to horse history and culture around the world.

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