Kentucky News Now – April 1st 2016
Judge issues temporary injunction in campaign finance case
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky cannot bar a corporation from contributing to political campaigns while no such restrictions apply to other organizations like labor unions.
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on Thursday ruled that Kentucky Registry of Election Finance officials cannot enforce a law that prevented a non-profit corporation from making contributions. The judge found that it violated the constitutional right to equal protection under the law, as unincorporated businesses or organizations are not subject to similar prohibitions.
The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think-tank, filed the lawsuit on behalf of a corporation that advocates for right-to-work laws. The company argued that unions are allowed to make contributions to push their side of the political issue, but they were forbidden from responding in kind.
The state can appeal the decision.
Lawmaker denied access to Bevin's news conference
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky lawmaker was denied access to a news conference where Gov. Matt Bevin and top human services officials talked about problems with the state's new public benefits system.
Democratic Rep. Johnny Bell of Glasgow was turned away at the door Thursday when he tried to enter the state Capitol room where Bevin and others talked about the startup woes for the benefind system.
Bell says his constituents would be disappointed that he wasn't able to hear what the governor had to say. He calls it contradictory to deny him access to Bevin's press conference when the Republican governor also talks about state leaders working together.
Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto later apologized for "any misunderstanding" and said Bell was not singled out. She says the event was for credentialed reporters.
Bevin orders college, university budgets cut by 4.5 percent
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts in state funding to all public colleges and universities.
The order comes as state lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over a two-year state spending plan. House and Senate leaders broke off negotiations on Thursday because Senate Republicans insisted on budget cuts for higher education while Democrats refused.
Bevin first proposed his mid-year budget cuts in January as part of a plan to cut state spending by $650 million and use the savings to begin to pay down the state's public pension debt. The House and the Senate did not include Bevin's 4.5 percent mid-year cuts in their budget proposals. But Bevin, citing a state law that allows him to reduce allotments for executive branch agencies, cut their budgets anyway.
Damage reported from storms in western Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Strong storms have caused some damage in western Kentucky, where part of a school roof was blown off.
The Breckinridge County sheriff's office told WDRB-TV that metal roofing was blown off of Breckinridge County Middle School on Thursday afternoon in Harned. No injuries were reported, and school board chairwoman Tonia Saettel said buses were held until the storm passed.
In Daviess County, the Messenger-Inquirer reported trees and utility poles were down and a demolished mobile home was reported after storms came through the Utica and Whitesville areas.
Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in the region Thursday afternoon.
Bevin: State working to fix problems in benefits system
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin says his administration is working to fix problems in the roll out of Kentucky's new public benefits system that led to some Kentuckians getting erroneous notices that their benefits are being cut off.
The magnitude of the problem is widespread. Bevin told reporters Thursday that about one-third of the state's population receives some form of benefits.
An executive with Deloitte Consulting, which developed the new computer system called Benefind, says thousands of letters went out with incorrect information to beneficiaries. Those benefits include Medicaid and food stamps.
State Medicaid Commissioner Steve Miller says steps have been taken to ensure that no one eligible for Medicaid loses those health benefits.
Deloitte executive Deborah Sills says the technical problems in the system did not surface during testing.
STUDENT FATALLY STRUCK
10-year-old student dies after being struck by car
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — An elementary school student in Bowling Green has died after being struck by a car.
Bowling Green Police Department spokesman Ronnie Ward tells media outlets that a vehicle struck 10-year-old Giselle Arias Wednesday evening. When police arrived, they found Arias lying in the roadway. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ward says no one inside the vehicle was hurt. Investigators do not yet know what caused the accident. Ward says authorities do not expect criminal charges to be placed.
Arias was a student at Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary. Bowling Green Superintendent Gary Fields says the school district will do its best to help the family.
Lawsuit: Health provider, pharmacies took part in fraud
(Information in the following story is from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com)
WHITESBURG, Ky. (AP) — Two people have accused a Kentucky health provider and several pharmacies of taking part in billing the federal government inflated prices for prescription drugs.
The Lexington Herald Leader reports that attorneys representing pharmacist William R. Hall and Jennifer Hall filed the federal lawsuit in July, but it was sealed until recently.
The lawsuit states that Mountain Comprehensive Health Corp. and nine pharmacies billed more than allowed for providing prescription drugs to people covered by federal insurance and charged people covered by federal programs more than they charged patients who paid cash.
L.M. "Mike" Caudill, chief executive officer of Mountain Comprehensive Health, says the company had not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment on allegations. He assured that the company followed rules and regulations at all levels.
Kenton County approves Covington needle exchange program
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A needle exchange program in Covington has moved another step closer to reality.
Media outlets report that Kenton County Fiscal Court on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for a mobile unit in the city.
The Northern Kentucky Board of Health must still approve the plan, which also includes a condition that Boone and Campbell counties be required to join the effort against needle sharing.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department has been trying to establish the exchanges in its district at four health centers — Williamstown, Covington, Newport and Florence — in order to help curb soaring hepatitis C rates in northern Kentucky, which has a rate nearly 20 times higher than the nation.
So far, Williamstown is the region's only health center to launch a needle exchange program.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press