ABORTION

Kentucky lawmakers finish work on informed consent bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have approved a bill allowing real-time video consultations between doctors and women as an option to fulfill "informed consent" requirements before an abortion.

The state Senate gave final approval Monday to the bill amending Kentucky's informed consent law. It's the first bill lawmakers sent to new Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, and he has said he will sign it into law.

For years, Kentucky law has required women meet with a doctor before an abortion. But the bill's supporters say some doctors have circumvented that requirement by having patients listen to a recorded message on the phone with no interaction.

The Senate accepted changes made to the bill by the House. The version headed to Bevin would give patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.

DISABLED-RALLY

Advocates for disabled plan rally at Kentucky Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Advocates for the disabled are gathering for a rally at Kentucky's Capitol to highlight the importance of state-supported services for the disabled.

The annual rally, set for Tuesday afternoon, celebrates Disabilities Awareness Day in the state.

Attending will be hundreds of people with disabilities, along with their families, advocates and service providers. Several Kentuckians with disabilities will tell their stories and talk about the returns they're making on investments in their services.

The event is organized by the United 874K Coalition, comprised of more than 75 organizations across the state. It says the event highlights the productivity that Kentuckians with disabilities gain when they're able to obtain employment, education opportunities, accessible transportation and supported housing.

Earlier in the day, the event's participants will meet with state legislators.

LAWMAKER RETIRING

Republican House member decides not to seek re-election

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican state Rep. David Floyd says he has decided not to seek another term in this year's election.

The decision creates another seat for Republicans to defend in November, when the GOP will try to claim control of the House and complete its takeover of the General Assembly.

Floyd says in a statement Monday that he believes in term limits.

A spokeswoman for House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says Floyd will serve out the remainder of his term. Hoover told House colleagues late last week that Floyd's family was dealt a setback with a medical diagnosis involving a family member. Floyd was absent from the House late last week.

The race for Floyd's seat features one Republican and one Democratic candidate.

Floyd on Monday endorsed the GOP candidate.

COAL PRODUCTION

Report: Kentucky coal at lowest production since 1950s

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Coal production in Kentucky has slumped to its lowest level since the 1950s after declining nearly 21 percent in 2015.

A report released Monday by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says production fell to 61 million tons last year, compared to 77 million tons in the previous year. The 2015 total was the lowest in Kentucky since 1954.

The coal industry throughout the U.S. has been hit hard by oversupply, competition from natural gas and tougher environmental regulations. Production in the Appalachian area of eastern Kentucky fell by 25 percent in the last quarter of 2015.

Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett says in a release the state numbers were "worse than expected." The coal association says neighboring West Virginia saw a production drop of nearly 16 percent in 2015.

COAL DUST RULES

New federal coal mine dust rules taking effect

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Underground coal mines will be increasing sampling for the dust that causes breathing problems and black lung disease under a new federal rule taking effect Monday.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is requiring coal operators to increase the number of air samples taken in underground mines.

The agency also will require miners working in the dustiest underground conditions to wear personal devices that give real-time readings on air quality.

Joe Main, who heads the mine safety agency, says the key to curbing breathable dust in the mines is increasing the number of samples taken by mine operators.

Black lung has no cure and can cause significant breathing problems, degrade movement and lead to an early death.

STOCKYARDS FIRE

Quarles: Fire will have little impact on Ky. cattle industry

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's top agriculture official says the state's beef cattle industry will not be hindered by a fire that destroyed a seven-acre auction house on Saturday.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Kentucky has one million head of beef cattle, making it among the largest cattle states east of the Mississippi River. He noted the Blue Grass Livestock Marketing Group is operating in other locations and plans to build a new facility in Lexington.

Quarles toured the damage of the fire on Monday with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Bevin said Kentucky "will be involved as we are able to be" in helping the company rebuild. That could include tax credits or other state incentives.

Officials do not know what caused the fire, which killed about 20 head of cattle.

JUVENILE DETENTION DEATH

Martial arts hold used on teen before detention center death

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — State officials say a martial arts hold was used on a Shelby County teenager hours before she was found dead at an Elizabethtown detention center.

Multiple news outlets report that Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center officials found 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen unresponsive in her cell Jan. 11.

Stacy Floden of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice wrote in an email that the Aikido restraint was used because the girl refused to remove her sweatshirt so she could be searched during the booking process. An Aikido restraint typically immobilizes a person's arm.

Officials have said it appears McMillen, who arrived at the detention center Jan. 10 after an alleged domestic dispute with her mother in Shelbyville, died in her sleep.

McMillen's death remains under investigation.

THE VOICE-WINNER-PARADE

'The Voice' winner Smith to be Derby parade grand marshal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jordan Smith will serve as grand marshal for the Kentucky Derby Festival's Pegasus Parade.

The 61st annual parade is scheduled to be held on May 5 in Louisville.

The 22-year-old Smith is a Harlan native who was the winner of NBC's "The Voice" singing competition this season.

Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry says Smith "no doubt (will) have everyone singing as he makes his way down the parade route."

Smith is a senior at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.

The Kentucky Derby Festival is still looking for marching band participants and in several other parade categories. Applications can be downloaded online at www.kdf.org .

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press