NEEDLE EXCHANGE

Senate votes to put stipulation on needle-exchange programs

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have delved back into the contentious issue of needle-exchange programs created as a result of a 2015 law combating the state's heroin-addiction problems.

The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to require a one-for-one exchange of clean and dirty needles.

Supporters say the one-for-one swap was the intent when lawmakers voted last year to allow local governments the option of setting up needle-exchange programs for addicts.

Senators added language for the one-for-one exchange to a House bill. The measure will return to the House, which will decide whether to accept the Senate's changes.

Advocates of needle-exchange programs see the swaps as a way to prevent the spread of diseases and steer drug users toward treatment. State health officials say six counties have embraced the programs.

CAR INTO RIVER

Car plunges into Ohio River after bridge crash

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — A car has plunged into the Ohio River after a three-car crash on a bridge leading from Kentucky to Cincinnati.

Ryan Watts, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, says rescue efforts are still underway. It is unknown how many people were inside the car when it toppled from the Combs-Hehl Bridge, which carries Interstate-275 from Campbell County, Kentucky, to Cincinnati.

The Central Campbell County Fire Department and other law enforcement agencies are on scene leading the water rescue efforts.

Nancy Wood, a transportation cabinet spokeswoman, said the accident happened around 5 p.m.

Watts says the bridge will be closed down for six to eight hours as investigators reconstruct the accident and what caused the car to fall into the river.

RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION

Bill allowing businesses to deny services to gays advances

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky businesses could invoke their religious beliefs to refuse service to gay, lesbian or transgender customers under a bill passed by the state Senate.

The measure passed the Republican-led Senate on a 22-16 vote Tuesday. It's a response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Republican Sen. Albert Robinson says his bill seeks to protect businesses from civil damages and legal fees for refusing to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations due to conscientious objections.

Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas says the bill promotes "bigotry and hatred."

The Senate narrowed the bill's application to businesses providing customized or creative goods and services. That could include bakeries, florists and photographers.

The bill goes to the Democratic-controlled House next.

VETERAN BUSINESSES

Bill would exempt business filing fees for military veterans

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Military veterans who own more than half of a new business would not have to pay filing fees to the Secretary of State's office under a bill that cleared the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green would apply to any business formed after Aug. 1 where military veterans own at least 51 percent of the company. Veterans would be exempt from paying filing fees with the Secretary of State's office. The bill would also exempt annual reporting fees for the first four years.

The bill applies to veterans of the U.S. armed services, including the reserves and the National Guard who have been honorably discharged. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

POLICE SHOOT SUSPECT

Shootings in Russellville leave 1 dead, 2 injured

RUSSELLVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police say a man suspected in the shooting of a woman at a McDonalds in downtown Russellville was later confronted and fatally shot by police.

A bystander was also hit by bullets from the gunfire.

The suspect, who has not been identified, shot a woman at the restaurant and then fled on foot. State police say in a release that the woman went across the street where she was treated and then taken to The Medical Center in Bowling Green.

The man encountered officers on North Main Street near a car wash and was shot and killed. Police say the bystander was at a donut shop across from the car wash when he was hit. He was flown to a hospital in Nashville for treatment.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Lexington program financing affordable housing units

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

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A program in Lexington is allocating grants and low-interest loans to groups developing affordable housing projects.

The Lexington Herald Leader Lexington's affordable housing fund has financed 443 affordable housing units since it was created in September 2014.

Rick McQuady, the director of Lexington's affordable housing fund, gave the Urban County Council the first update on the fund's progress during a council work session March 8. He says the program has financed 164 new units and rehabilitated 269 existing units.

To date, the fund has allocated $5.3 million in grants or low-interest loans that will go toward developing the projects.

McQuady says he has talked to various groups that want to rehabilitate or create an additional 300 to 500 units in the coming year.

LIBRARY TAX

Carter fiscal court denies library taxing district request

(Information in the following story is from: The Independent, http://www.dailyindependent.com)

GRAYSON, Ky. (AP) — The Carter County Fiscal Court has denied the implementation of a taxing district to support county libraries.

The Independent reports that the fiscal court met Monday night to consider the issue and argued that a taxing district could prove detrimental to the community because it can legally increase its tax rate without voter approval.

The county's public library director, Nellie Middleton, told the court that the library wanted to make sure kids have books in their homes.

Judge-Executive Mike Malone argued that taxing districts become a government within a government that there was no way the fiscal court would create it.

The court didn't rule out letting county residents vote on the proposal.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.