Kentucky News Now – January 13th 2016
KIM DAVIS-STATE OF THE UNION
Kim Davis to attend president's final State of Union Address
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail for defying federal court orders and refusing to license same-sex marriage, was invited to attend the State of the Union address.
Davis' lawyer, Mat Staver, announced Tuesday that both he and Davis were invited to President Barack Obama's final address, attending it "to stand for religious freedom and to represent Judeo-Christian values."
The Rowan County Clerk cited "God's authority" and refused to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage last summer, despite a series of federal court orders. Every lawmaker gets one guest ticket to the President's annual speech. An Ohio congressman later said he extended the invitation to Davis.
GOP leader wants to freeze university tuition in Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The chairman of the Kentucky Senate Republican Caucus wants to freeze tuition and fees at state universities for the next four years.
Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville says it "borders on criminal" how much universities have increased tuition in the past eight years. His bill would not allow universities to increase tuition or fees for the next four years. After that, the state legislature would have to approve any increase.
State lawmakers have cut the higher education budget by 16 percent since 2008, or $173.5 million. Yet Kentucky universities have generated $588.6 million in increased tuition and fees during that same time period.
The Council on Postsecondary Education spokeswoman Sue Patrick said the numbers don't give a complete picture since they do not account for student financial aid.
Bill would exempt school projects from prevailing wage
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State officials would not decide how much to pay construction workers on public school projects under a bill approved by a Senate committee.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Wil Schroder of Wilder, would exempt school construction projects from Kentucky's prevailing wage law. The law sets construction wages for publicly funded projects based on local surveys. But a 2014 study from the Legislative Research Commission found the law increased workers' pay by about $8 per hour more than they would have been paid in the private sector.
Democrats dispute that study, noting it only looked at wages and not the total cost of construction projects. Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville voted against the bill.
It is the first bill to make it to the Senate floor this year.
DEFENSE SECRETARY-FORT CAMPBELL
Defense Secretary to visit soldiers at Fort Campbell
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — A statement from Fort Campbell says U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter plans to speak to soldiers at the Army post.
The statement says Carter will visit the sprawling post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line on Wednesday and deliver a speech to soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
The Army has said that about 1,300 soldiers with the 2nd Brigade and about 500 soldiers with Headquarters will deploy this year to Iraq and Kuwait and help with advising Iraqi security forces. The soldiers are expected to be deployed for about nine months.
Judge removed from criminal case at request of attorney
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's chief justice has disqualified a judge from a criminal trial at the request of Jefferson Commonwealth's attorney.
The Courier-Journal reports Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. disqualified Circuit Judge Olu Stevens from the case, which was set for trial Tuesday.
Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine requested the disqualification. Wine argued Stevens has an "extreme distaste" for Wine's office and could not fairly proceed over the case. Wine specifically mentioned a November 2015 presentation Stevens gave at the Louisville Bar Association. Wine says Stevens compared Wine to those who prevented desegregation.
In his two-page order, Chief Justice Minton found that Wine showed "disqualifying circumstances" in his motion.
Stevens did not immediately respond to an email request by the newspaper for comment.
Bill allowing some distilleries to serve cocktails advances
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Bourbon tourists could sip cocktails and purchase more bottles from Kentucky distilleries in wet territories under a bill that has won approval from a state Senate committee.
The bill cleared the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee on a 9-1 vote Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer says it could be voted on in coming days by the full Senate.
Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association, says the legislation would help distilleries reach their full potential as tourist attractions.
The measure drew criticism from some in the liquor business.
Bardstown liquor store owner Guthrie McKay says letting distilleries sell more bottles to visitors would hurt retail stores. He says liquor stores already have difficulty getting some specialty products from distilleries.
JUVENILE DETENTION DEATH
Teenage inmate found dead in juvenile detention center
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A 16-year-old female inmate has been found dead inside her cell at an Elizabethtown juvenile detention center.
The News-Enterprise reports officials discovered the girl unresponsive in her cell Monday morning at Lincoln Village Youth Development and Regional Juvenile Detention Center. She was pronounced dead at the center.
Kentucky State Police Post 4 spokesman Jeff Gregory says officials are investigating the death and an autopsy was planned Monday. He says foul play is not suspected.
No additional details have been provided.
Authorities: Man dies of hypothermia in downtown Lexington
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was found dead behind a University of Kentucky apparel store had died of hypothermia brought on by cold overnight temperatures in downtown Lexington.
The Fayette County coroner's office said in a news release that 41-year-old Robert E. Johnson's death was an accident caused by exposure-related hypothermia.
Johnson's body was found Monday morning behind Wildcat Warehouse near the school's campus, where temperatures reached as low as 10 degrees early Monday.
Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn tells WLEX-TV that Johnson was a known panhandler.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of the heart and respiratory system and to death.
International Menotring Day coincides with Ali's birthday
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The importance of mentors will be highlighted on Muhammad Ali's birthday.
The Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville says International Mentoring Day is set for Jan. 17. The boxing great will turn 74 years old on that day.
Ali's wife, Lonnie, says mentors have the power to change lives and are "gifts to the world." She says they encourage, motivate and guide others to reach their potential.
She says her husband is proud that International Mentoring Day is being launched on his birthday.
Ali Center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke says mentors and the people they support are invited to visit the center on Jan. 17 to show their commitment to the cause.
Lonnie Ali says she hopes more people will take the first step to mentoring someone in need of support.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.