Kentucky News Now – November 18th 2015
Beshear says state in better shape than when he took office
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear says Kentucky's next governor is in a much better position to write the state's multi-billion spending plan than he was when he took office.
Beshear will leave office Dec. 7 after eight years. Republican Matt Bevin will take his place after winning the election on Nov. 3 with more than 52 percent of the vote.
Beshear met with reporters at the Governor's Mansion on Tuesday to discuss his legacy. He said he cut $1.6 billion from the state's budget to keep it afloat during the Great Recession, including $340 million in his first year. He said state revenues grew 6 percent last month.
But Beshear leaves behind a public pension system for teachers with a $14 billion unfunded liability. Bevin has said fixing that system is his top priority.
Governor: Marriage licenses in Kentucky county are valid
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's outgoing Democratic governor says the state will recognize the marriage licenses that county clerk Kim Davis altered because of her religious beliefs.
Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, believes it would be a sin for her to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. She believes it so fervently that she spent five days in jail earlier this year for refusing to obey a federal judge who ordered her to issue the licenses. Her office issued the licenses in her absence. When Davis got out of jail, she changed the licenses to remove her name and the name of the county.
The American Civil Liberties Union protested and asked a federal judge to make Davis reissue the licenses. In a court filing last week, Beshear told the judge he believes the licenses are valid.
Hopkinsville police warn about particularly dangerous drug
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Hopkinsville Police Department is warning the public about the apparent use of a drug that has been causing serious medical complications in the community recently.
The department issued a news release Monday, saying that the drug could be a new synthetic drug, or a drug such as marijuana that has been laced with a foreign substance.
Police spokesman Paul Ray tells the Kentucky New Era that officers aren't sure what exactly the drug is.
Since Thursday, officers say they have noticed a large increase in individuals showing signs similar to psychotic episodes after using the drug. Users often seem lethargic and appear to be going in and out of consciousness. They can also become aggressive.
Ray says police are actively searching for the source of the drug.
VETERAN-HIGH SCHOOL DEGREE
Vet receives high school diploma more than 45 years later
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — A Vietnam War veteran has received his high school diploma more than 45 years after originally leaving school to serve in the Marine Corps.
William Lloyd tells the Bowling Green Daily News he received his degree on Veterans Day at a ceremony at Union County High School, where he attended in the late 1960s.
Donald McGlothlin, a program specialist at Bowling Green's Kentucky Career Center, says Lloyd got his degree through the Veterans High School Diploma program, which is part of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
McGlothlin says the program allows veterans who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam to receive diplomas from the last high school they attended.
In Vietnam, Lloyd served with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines as a rifleman from 1970 to 1972.
Controversial Jesus portrait gets colorful company
JACKSON, Ky. (AP) — Faced with a complaint over a hand-drawn portrait of Jesus that has hung on a county courthouse wall for decades, a judge executive has gotten other artists to fill the wall with original art depicting everyone from Snow White to MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow.
Breathitt County Judge-Executive John Lester "J.L." Smith tells the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1YeKai0) that he solicited other pictures to hang in order to reinforce that there is no religious intent behind keeping the picture of Jesus. The 1981 portrait by artist Connie J. Combs shows a man kneeling before Jesus.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Smith in August, asking him to remove the drawing of Jesus. Foundation attorney Rebecca S. Markert says the portrait is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.
Smith has not responded to the foundation's letter.
SCHOOL OF OPTOMETRY
Officials to recruit for Kentucky's first optometry school
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — University of Pikeville officials have received preliminary approval to begin recruiting students for Kentucky's first optometry school.
WYMT-TV reports that school leaders got word Friday that they the university's School of Optometry had received preliminary approval from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.
Construction for the $55 million building began this summer and is still under way.
The school's first class of students is expected to begin in the fall of 2016.
SANDHILL CRANE HUNT
Kentucky taking applications for sandhill crane hunt
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says in a statement that it has begun accepting applications to participate in the upcoming sandhill crane hunting season.
The agency says applications are being accepted online at www.fw.ky.gov through Nov. 30.
The department will issue 400 permits through a computer drawing on Dec. 2 for the season that begins on Dec. 12. Hunters are limited to two birds. The season will close on Jan. 10, 2016 unless the quota limit of 400 birds is reached before then.
The birds can be hunted all over the state except in the Beaver Creek, Skaggs Creek and Peters Creek embayments of Barren River Lake Wildlife Management Area.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.