ABORTION-KENTUCKY

Kentucky governor signs abortion bill as soon as it arrives

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — It was quick, albeit unorthodox, when Kentucky's governor signed into law an abortion bill as soon as a delegation of lawmakers presented it to him.

The first bill signed by Gov. Matt Bevin since taking office updates the state's informed consent law requiring women seeking abortions be told of medical risks and benefits at least 24 hours beforehand.

The bill gives patients and doctors the option of meetings in person or by video.

A group of lawmakers Tuesday accompanied the bill's delivery to Bevin's office.

Bevin asked if they wanted him to sign it then or next week, when abortion opponents are planning a Capitol rally. The decision was to do it immediately, so the Republican governor signed it.

Lawmakers could not recall such circumstances for a bill signing.

BUDGET

Ky. House Democrats opposed to governor's spending cuts

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — House Democrats say they likely will not approve $650 million worth of state spending cuts as outlined in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's budget proposal.

The resistance sets up a budget battle one month ahead of four special elections that could shift the balance of power in the legislature.

State economists say Kentucky will have an extra $900 million to spend over the next two years. But a combination of ballooning pension debts and the rising costs of the state's Medicaid system led Bevin to slash the budget by 4.5 percent this year and another 9 percent over the next two years.

House budget committee chairman Rick Rand of Bedford says he does not understand cutting the budget when the state is projected to finish the fiscal year with a $200 million surplus.

PAWN SHOP SLAYINGS

Judge rules pastor can testify in Danville murder trial

DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Michigan pastor who led police to suspect Kenneth Allen Keith in the murder of three people at a Danville pawn shop will be allowed to testify during Keith's trial.

The Advocate-Messenger reports a judge denied a defense motion Friday to suppress Tracy Herald's testimony on the grounds that four conversations between Keith and Herald were confidential.

Keith, a Baptist preacher, has pleaded not guilty to the 2013 murders and robbery of Michael Hockensmith, Angela Hockensmith and Daniel Smith.

Herald previously testified that he had called Keith after learning of the murders. After Herald told Keith he believed the Hockensmiths were innocent victims, Herald says Keith began yelling, "They ain't innocent!"

Herald went to police after the conversation. Three subsequent conversations between Herald and Keith were recorded, and served as the basis for an arrest warrant.

JUDICIAL CONDUCT INVESTIGATION

Louisville Judge charged with violating code of conduct

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Jefferson District Court Judge who jailed a witness without a hearing has been formally charged with violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Media outlets report that on Monday, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission notified Judge Sheila Collins that she could be suspended or removed from office for interrogating Jasmin Stone without counsel and locking her up after she withdrew an allegation that she was the victim of domestic violence.

The commission says Collins refused to lower Stone's $10,000 bond. Stone was later released by another judge, Erica Williams, who dismissed the charge the next day and apologized to her.

Collins says her actions were without malice and that she cannot be penalized for making an error in good faith.

The commission gave Collins 15 days to respond.

NEEDLE EXCHANGE

Ashland seeks to start needle drive to combat Hepatitis C

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department is planning a needle-exchange program to prevent the further spread of Hepatitis C in the area.

Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond tells the Independent the number of Hepatitis C deaths in the area "shot up dramatically" in 2011 and 2012. He says the leading cause for the spread of the disease has been through dirty needles used by drug users.

Epidemiologist Kristy Bolen says the needle-exchange program can be used as a tool to stymie the spread if Hepatitis C, while also giving the health department an opportunity to educate addicts coming to pick up clean needles.

The health department is still seeking approval for the program from the board of health and local governments.

WHISKEY SALES

Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey producers toast more strong sales

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are toasting another year of strong sales and revenue growth. Leading the way is growing demand for high-priced, super-premium brands.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015. Domestic volume rose 5.2 percent.

The council's annual report says bourbon and Tennessee whiskey revenues and volumes outpaced the overall distilled spirits sector.

Meanwhile, it says bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exports topped $1 billion for the third straight year, despite challenges caused by a strong dollar. A strong dollar makes U.S. goods less competitive.

ACADEMY-SEX ABUSE

Former officer charged with sex abuse sentenced to 4 years

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former police officer has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to violating sex abuse laws with students at a residential, educational program run by the Kentucky National Guard.

The U.S. attorney's office in Louisville said in a statement that 45-year-old Stephen E. Miller of Grayson County received the sentence on Monday after pleading guilty in July to abusive sexual contact with three female students and third-degree sodomy with a fourth at Bluegrass Challenge Academy in 2013. Miller is a former Leitchfield police officer.

Prosecutors say he later worked at Bluegrass Challenge Academy, located at Fort Knox, and had supervisory authority over the students.

The statement said Miller's sentence will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.

FATAL SHOOTING

Police: 1 dead, 1 injured in shooting; suspect in custody

LA CENTER, Ky. (AP) — Police say a shooting in western Kentucky has resulted in one fatality, one injury and one person taken into custody.

Kentucky State Police say they were called to investigate the shootings early Tuesday in Ballard County and found 18-year-old Theresa L. Hughes of La Center dead and 21-year-old Caitlin L. Houston of La Center suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg.

Police say Houston's boyfriend, 22 -year-old Shaquille Q. Edwards of La Center, was taken into custody at the scene. Police said charges are pending.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.