News in Brief

AG willing to defend state in suit against ultrasound law

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear says his office is willing to defend the state against a lawsuit seeking to block a new Kentucky law requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion.

But Beshear said Tuesday he won’t represent the state if a legal challenge is mounted against another new law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger. Beshear says that law is “clearly unconstitutional.”

Both abortion measures sped through the Republican-led legislature last week. Gov. Matt Bevin signed both into law. Both measures had emergency clauses, meaning they took effect immediately.

On the ultrasound legislation, Beshear said it’s his duty to defend laws when “the constitutionality is questionable.” He says his office will defend any of the agencies sued that seek his office’s representation.


Beshear fires investigator that prompted Bevin’s rebuke

FRANKFORT (AP) — Attorney General Andy Beshear has fired an investigator who is accused of giving false testimony that prompted Gov. Matt Bevin to call Beshear’s office an embarrassment.

Holly McCoy-Johnson, the head of administrative services for Beshear, sent a letter to David Wilburs saying his termination was effective Tuesday.

“As you may be required to testify before grand juries and courts, your demonstrated failures to be truthful show that you cannot perform the minimum requirement of your job duties,” wrote McCoy-Johnson. “An investigator who has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of attention to detail and misrepresentation of information cannot be effective or entrusted to represent the Office of the Attorney General .”

The Lexington Herald-Leader cited records from an internal investigation in reporting Wilburs’ actions led to the dismissal of at least two criminal cases and an accusation of misconduct in another case.

Wilburs, who made $43,376 annually, was placed on administrative leave without pay on December 28th.

He was hired in 2007 under former Attorney General Jack Conway after serving in the Georgetown Police Department for about 20 years.

A spokesman for Beshear declined to comment. The newspaper reported it couldn’t reach Wilburs’ attorney, Stephen Wolnitzek, for comment on Monday.


3 injured in Clay Co. house explosion

MANCHESTER (AP) — Members of a Clay County family have lost their home and suffered injuries in an explosion.

Burning Springs Fire Chief Shane Sturgill tells local media that an explosion happened early Monday at a Manchester home. He says the cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

The three victims were taken via air ambulance from the home to UK Hospital. Sturgill says the victims have first and second degree burns, in addition to broken bones.

Two dogs in a cage outside the home survived, but another dog inside the home during the blast died.

An official from the state fire marshal’s office was on the scene Monday.


$1M in grants awarded to clean up illegal dumps

FRANKFORT (AP) — The state’s environment cabinet has awarded more than $1 million in grants to Kentucky counties to clean up illegal dumps across the state.

Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely announced Monday that $1.06 million in grant funding will be distributed to 25 counties to help remediate more than 100 illegal open dumps.

The money for the Illegal Open Dump Grant program comes from the Kentucky Pride Fund, collected from a $1.75 fee for every ton of garbage disposed of at municipal solid waste facilities.

To qualify for the funding, counties must agree to match 25 percent of the grant amount. The Energy and Environment Cabinet can choose to waive the match on an illegal dump that costs more than $50,000 to remediate.


Hartford to hold referendum on alcohol sales

HARTFORD (AP) — A third city in western Kentucky’s Ohio County plans to hold a referendum on alcohol sales.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports residents in Hartford will cast ballots on Jan. 24 to decide the issue.

A countywide election on liquor sales was held in April, but the initiative failed by 339 votes. Meanwhile, the city of Beaver Dam passed a measure to allow alcohol sales there. A similar measure in the city of Rockport failed.

Ohio County Clerk Bess Ralph said talk about the election has been “very quiet” and turnout would be hard to predict.

The city has 1,912 registered voters who can cast ballots.

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