New Republican Gov. Matt Bevin outlines priorities, calls for unity as he is sworn in

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's second Republican governor in four decades pledged Tuesday to resist the federal government while pursuing sweeping policy changes, including spending more public money on private schools and less on health insurance.

Matt Bevin was sworn in as Kentucky's 62nd governor during an invitation-only ceremony first in the state Capitol, where he referred to himself as the "tip of the spear" for the state. Hours later he repeated the oath in a public ceremony before thousands on the Capitol steps, where he promised an aggressive policy agenda that would reverse or roll back policies instituted by the decades of Democratic governors who came before him.

Bevin did not mention Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk whose religious beliefs led her to spend five days in jail earlier this year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. But Bevin has promised to issue an executive order removing the names of county clerks from state marriage licenses.


Bevin calls for Kentucky residents to put aside differences during his inaugural address

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — New Gov. Matt Bevin urged Kentuckians to put aside their differences and come together for the good of the state during his inaugural address on the steps of the state Capitol.

But Bevin also Tuesday outlined a list of policy priorities sure to divide the state in the coming months. Chief among them is repealing the state's Medicaid expansion and replacing it a new system that would reduce the number of people receiving taxpayer-funded health insurance. And he promised to spend public dollars on private education programs to create competition for public schools.

Bevin replaces Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, known for embracing President Barack Obama's signature health care law by expanding the state's Medicaid program to cover an additional 400,000 people and creating a state-run health exchange through which more than 100,000 people have purchased private health coverage with the help of federal subsidies.


Kentucky's first black statewide elected official says she will be a positive voice for the state

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's first black statewide elected official says she will be a positive and uplifting voice for Kentuckians.

Jenean Hampton spoke to hundreds of people on the state Capitol steps on Tuesday before being ceremonially sworn in as the state's next lieutenant governor.

Hampton spoke of her childhood in Detroit, where she was raised in poverty by a single mother. She said God sent her on an "incredible journey" from poverty to Kentucky's second highest elected official and she believes she was "sent to serve."

Hampton also said she looks forward to the "daunting task" of putting Kentucky on solid financial footing. Gov. Matt Bevin's administration has just a few weeks to put together a two-year spending plan for the state legislature to begin debating in the upcoming legislative session.


Kim Davis in attendance at Gov. Matt Bevin's public swearing-in ceremony in Kentucky.

FRANKFORT, KY. (AP) — Kim Davis was in attendance at Gov. Matt Bevin's public swearing-in ceremony in Kentucky.

The Rowan County clerk is famous for spending five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her incarceration energized thousands of religious conservative voters that aided Bevin, a Republican, in his campaign for governor.

Davis' case is still pending in federal court. But Bevin has promised to issue an executive order removing the names of county clerks from marriage licenses in Kentucky, an act Davis has said would satisfy her conscience.

Davis was a lifelong Democrat but recently changed her voter registration to the Republican party. Her attorney, Mat Staver, said in a news release there was "no question" that Davis and the question of religious freedom played a role in Bevin's victory.


Coal mining company hit with fine that could reach $3.25M

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet has agreed to levy a stiff fine against a coal mining company which acknowledged thousands of Clean Water Act violations, effectively barring the company from operating in Kentucky in the future.

The Independent of Ashland reports Frasure Creek Mining and its parent companies, Trinity Coal and New Trinity, will immediately pay the state $500,000. An additional fine of $2.75 million will be levied if any of the companies apply for mining permits in Kentucky in the future.

The agreement came in the final hours of outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear's administration Monday and followed a five-year battle by a coalition of environmental groups.

In 2010, state officials reached a $310,000 proposed settlement with the company, but environmental groups argued that the fines weren't high enough.


UK-affiliated medical foundation: Records should stay closed

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A medical foundation affiliated with the University of Kentucky is appealing a recent decision by Attorney General Jack Conway's office that requires the foundation to turn over records for public inspection.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky Medical Services Foundation Director Marc Randall said in a statement that Conway's office overreached by suggesting that Kentucky's Open Records Act supersedes federal privacy laws.

The foundation's appeal was filed Friday in Fayette Circuit Court against Lachin Hatemi, a former UK medical student. Hatemi raised the issue after the foundation turned down parts of his request for records following the controversial ouster of surgeon Dr. Paul Kearney.

In November, Conway's office said the foundation was subject to the open records law because it's substantially run and controlled by UK, a public agency.


John James Audubon State Park to gain Audubon Wetlands

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund has partnered with six local citizens and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to buy the 649-acre tract known as Audubon Wetlands for John James Audubon State Park.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports Kentucky State Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker announced the purchase in Henderson on Monday.

Gov. Matt Bevin, who was inaugurated on Tuesday, announced over the weekend that Donnie Holland of Cadiz will serve as the new parks commissioner for his administration.

Local officials were hoping that the deed transferring the land would be recorded before Monday's event, but Sen. Dorsey Ridley, who is trying to help facilitate the transfer, says minor details still need to be clarified. He says he isn't sure when the official land transfer might take place.


Lincoln County family's service dog is back home

STANFORD, Ky. (AP) — A Lincoln County family's service dog, Radar, has reappeared after being gone for three days.

WKYT-TV reports owner Jason Cooper said he saw what appeared to be a dog across the street on a neighbor's farm Tuesday afternoon. Cooper called out the dog's name, Radar's head popped up and Cooper knew it was his missing dog.

The yellow lab was trained by the Make a Wish Foundation to keep the family's daughter, Madelyn, safe during seizures. Carolyn Cooper, Madelyn's mother, says when Madelyn died, Radar tried to board the ambulance with her.

Jason Cooper said social media attracted help from people across the country, and he says he wants to thank them.

After Radar went missing Saturday, Jason Cooper said he felt like he had lost another child.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.