State legislature convenes as parties fight for power

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky state legislature has gaveled in to begin work on a two-year state spending plan under a new Republican governor.

The state House and Senate both convened about noon Tuesday. It will likely be a light day for lawmakers as they introduce bills.

But behind the scenes Republicans and Democrats are grappling for control of the House of Representatives. Democrats have a four-seat majority, but Republicans could force a tie if they sweep four special elections scheduled for March 8.

Meanwhile, new Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is entering his first legislative session. He is scheduled to deliver a major speech to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Thursday followed by a budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Jan. 26.


Ohio River bridge likely to be closed another couple days

WICKLIFFE, Ky. (AP) — It will likely be a couple more days before the Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge between Kentucky and Illinois can be reopened.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the bridge remains closed where floodwaters have covered the bridge approach levee at the Kentucky end of the span.

The bridge normally carried about 5,000 vehicles daily across the Ohio River. The closing impacts north-south traffic on U.S. 51 between Kentucky and Illinois and east-west traffic along U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 into Kentucky and Missouri.

The bridge closure also creates about an 80-mile detour via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge through southern Illinois.

The road has been closed since early Thursday. U.S. 51 is also closed south of Wickliffe, Kentucky, near the Ballard-Carlisle county line.


Yum Brands chairman to retire in May

Yum Brands Inc. Chairman David Novak will retire in May, ending a three-decade career with the restaurant giant.

The Louisville, Kentucky, company said Tuesday it plans to name one of its board members to succeed Novak at its annual meeting in May.

Novak, 63, began his tenure with the company in 1986 as the marketing chief for Pizza Hut when the chain was still owned by PepsiCo. When PepsiCo spun off KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in 1997, Novak became vice chairman and president of the new company. He was named CEO of Yum Brands in 1999 and chairman in 2000. Greg Creed was named CEO last year.

Yum plans to split off its China business later this year.

Shares of Yum Brands closed down 18 cents at $72.03.


Man sentenced to serve 30 years in connection with murder

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars in connection with a murder case involving of two people.

WYMT-TV reports Orie Spence Jr. was sentenced Monday morning following the 2013 killings of Edger and April Hedrick. The two were found dead in their home in Martin County.

Police arrested Spence following the killings. He pleaded guilty to the murder charge late last year.

Spence was the cousin of Edger Hedrick.

Members of the Hedrick family appeared in court Monday, expressing their frustration over the killings.


Rest area on Interstate 65 closed after fire

MUNFORDVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says an overnight blaze has caused major damage to a rest area along southbound Interstate 65.

Cabinet spokesman Chris Jessie said in a statement that the fire was reported about 2 a.m. on Tuesday at the rest area in Hart County. He said the facility is closed to the public and will remain so until further notice.

Fire crews and Kentucky State Police are investigating. No further information was immediately available.


Master distiller Chris Morris of Brown-Forman chosen chair of Kentucky Distillers' Association

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Master distiller Chris Morris of Brown-Forman has been selected as chairman of the Kentucky Distillers' Association — the 136-year-old group that promotes the state's bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Morris is marking his 40th year in the industry. He will serve as the group's chairman through December.

Morris says plenty of events and programs are planned in 2016 to promote the state's bourbon industry.

The KDA Board of Directors selected officers during its annual meeting recently at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville.

The KDA is the state's voice for bourbon and spirits issues. There are currently 28 members, the most since the repeal of Prohibition.


Louisville Slugger Museum has record attendance in 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory says it is celebrating a record number of visitors.

In a statement, museum officials said 314,149 people visited the museum and factory in 2015. That number eclipsed the former record of 303,037 guests in 2013.

Vice President Anne Jewell said it's exciting to have such momentum going into 2016, when the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The statement said several factors contributed to the high attendance including a popular exhibit of trading cards and longer summer hours.


"Gold Star" license plates now available in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky now has a special license plate for siblings of people who died while serving in the military.

The addition came as a result of legislation passed last year. Previously, only parents and spouses of the deceased were entitled to apply for a "Gold Star" license plate.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced the new plate on Tuesday. It said applicants must complete an affidavit and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

Once the application is verified, the plate costs $31, which includes a $10 mandatory contribution to the Veterans' Program Trust Fund. Each annual renewal is $26 with a $5 mandatory contribution fee.

Since the Gold Star plate program began in 2006, the cabinet says 136 parents and spouses had received them through December.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.