Lexmark releases 4Q earnings, says it's cutting 550 jobs

(Information in the following story is from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Lexmark says it will cut 550 jobs over the next year, with some of the positions being moved out of the country.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Lexmark spokesman Jerry Grasso declined to comment on how many affected employees would be in Lexington, where about 2,300 of the company's 14,000 employees work.

The company released fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday. Fourth-quarter revenue was down from $1.023 billion to $969 million, but gross profit margin of 39.8 percent was up from 35.2 percent in the same period in 2014. Earnings per share were $1.16 in 2015, up slightly from $1.14 in 2014.

Lexmark said in a news release some of the jobs being eliminated would be moved to "low-cost countries." The release said the restructuring will save Lexmark $67 million in 2016 and $100 million annually beginning in 2017.


Horse park director defends his stewardship of attraction

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Horse Park's executive director has defended his stewardship of the tourist attraction in an appearance before state lawmakers.

Jamie Link made his comments before a Senate committee that voted Tuesday to revamp the commission overseeing the horse park in Lexington.

The bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, says "things have gone awry" at the horse park.

Thayer's bill would reduce membership on the park's governing board from 17 to nine. Current members include the wife of former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Thayer is also calling for a full performance audit of the park.

Link says he fixed numerous problems he inherited that were found in a prior audit of the park. He says his staff members are "good custodians" of expenses.


Chief justice warns House panel of Bevin's budget proposal

(Information in the following story is from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. has told a legislative panel that the governor's proposed budget cuts would effectively shut down the courts temporarily.

The Courier-Journal reports that Minton appeared before a House budget subcommittee on Tuesday and said budget cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin would cripple the court system.

Minton said the courts would likely have to shut down the court system for some three weeks just to enact the 4.5 percent cuts Bevin has proposed for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. He said other justice initiatives would be threatened "by a crippled court system."

Bevin has proposed cuts of 9 percent in each of the next two fiscal years.


Senate panel OK's bill to toughen laws against dogfighting

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Senate panel has advanced a bill aimed at putting more bite in Kentucky's laws against dogfighting.

Kentucky already outlaws the actual act of dogfighting, but it's the only state that doesn't outlaw activities contributing to the blood sport.

The measure approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday would expand the law to make it a felony to breed, possess, train or sell dogs for the purpose of dogfighting.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, has worked with animal-rights and sportsmen's groups since last year, trying to develop a bill acceptable to both.

Some animal-rights activists raised concerns the version approved by the committee is overly broad, creating potential loopholes for those wanting to supply fighting dogs.


GOP Senators: No hearing, no vote for Obama Court pick

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee say there will be no hearing for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that there would be "no hearing, no vote."

The Judiciary Committee traditionally reviews any nominee and holds confirmation hearings before voting and sending the nomination to the full Senate.

McConnell earlier said his party won't permit a vote on any nominee submitted by Obama and instead will "revisit the matter" after the presidential election in November.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said GOP members of the panel "believe the American people need to decide" who will make the selection rather than a lame-duck president.


Kentucky nonprofit attacks Beshear's 'sad Obamacare move'

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A nonprofit group that spent millions of dollars to support Sen. Mitch McConnell's 2014 re-election has paid for a statewide TV ad to criticize former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's efforts to save his health care reforms.

The 30-second ad from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is titled "Go Home" and says Beshear will not stop his "sad attempt to keep Obamacare."

As governor, Beshear used the federal Affordable Care Act to expand Kentucky's Medicaid program and create an exchange where people could purchase discounted private insurance plans. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin wants to repeal both programs because he says they are too expensive. He is developing his own plan for Medicaid.

Beshear started his own nonprofit group earlier this month that he said would educate voters about Bevin's health care policies.


Ex-candidate found guilty of not reporting child sex abuse

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A former Democratic state House candidate has been found guilty of failing to report child abuse in a case involving students at an education program run by the Kentucky National Guard.

Multiple media outlets report that 65-year-old John Wayne Smith of Smiths Grove was convicted by a jury on Friday and faces up to one year in prison.

Smith was the director of Bluegrass Challenge Academy at Fort Knox, where prosecutors said he didn't report knowledge that a staff member, Stephen Miller, inappropriately touched female students. Miller is serving a four-year prison sentence related to four separate incidents at the academy.

Smith ran and lost a race in 2014 against incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Meredith in House District 19, which includes portions of Edmonson and Warren counties.


Jefferson County Head Start jobs in limbo over grant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — With the funding of its early childhood education program uncertain, Jefferson County Public Schools is warning more than 500 Head Start staff members that their positions could be gone this fall.

News outlets report that the school district's Director of Early Childhood James Francis last week sent a letter to 526 early childhood employees warning them that the district has to prepare for the possibility of it not receiving its annual $15 million federal grant for the Head Start program's next school year.

Francis says principals and supervisors will notify employees by March 4 if they have been overstaffed.

The school district doesn't expect to hear about whether it will get the Head Start grant until May. If the grant comes through, school district spokeswoman Allison Martin says the overstaffed employees would be brought back.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.