KENTUCKY BRIDGE COLLAPSE
Ky. sues crew of barge that collapsed bridge
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky transportation officials are suing the crew of a cargo ship that struck and collapsed part of a bridge over the Tennessee River in western Kentucky.
The state Transportation Cabinet says in a lawsuit moved to federal court this week that it spent at least $7 million to repair the Eggner's Ferry Bridge after the Delta Mariner struck it on Jan. 26, 2012. The cabinet's lawsuit says the ship's crew ignored warnings from the U.S. Coast Guard about the bridge's navigation lights being out.
Seattle-based Foss Maritime, the owners of the cargo ship, said in a statement Thursday that it doesn't comment on pending court actions.
The wreck caused a 322-foot section of the span to collapse. The bridge carries traffic from near Aurora, Ky., to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.
LOCAL SALES TAX
Kentucky local option tax talks get panel pushback
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A push for a local option sales tax in Kentucky has drawn resistance from House panel members.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer presented a case for the tax Thursday to the House State Government Committee.
The amendment would allow voters to decide whether they want to pay a project-based, time-specific tax of 1 percent.
Democratic Rep. Jim Wayne of Louisville calls the tax regressive. Wayne asked Fischer to explain why low-income households would provide a greater dollar amount than high-income households.
Fischer responded that the tax would create jobs, which would make the financial burden worthwhile. Fischer also says currently untaxed items would remain untaxed.
In order to be placed on the ballot in November, the proposal would require a two-thirds vote from both chambers of the General Assembly.
Kentucky smoking ban bill is dead, sponsor says
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A contentious Kentucky bill that would enact a statewide ban on smoking in shared public spaces and places of employment is dead, the sponsor says.
Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington said Thursday that despite high public approval and Democratic leadership urging progress on the bill, it is unlikely to be taken up for a vote on the House floor this session. Westrom says it's due to pressure from lobbying organizations and some lawmakers.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he didn't kill the bill but that it had been steadily losing support since being filed.
Westrom says she remains hopeful that companion legislation in the Senate will pass both chambers.
Gay hiring fears hurt Baptist agency fundraising
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky's largest private child care agency prompted many supportive churches to withhold giving last year, creating a multi-million dollar shortfall.
Sunrise Children's Services depends on giving from Kentucky's Baptist congregations - and government funding. But Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood says offerings dried up last year amid donor concerns the proposal to allow gay workers might succeed.
The Sunrise board ultimately rejected the proposal, unwilling to begin hiring gays at Sunrise just to ensure future government contracts. Supporters now hope a fundraising drive will cover $5 million of the roughly $7.5 million shortfall.
Meanwhile, experts note religiously-affiliated groups operating with government funding could be increasingly held to new standards as gay right protections advance in several states.
HILLARY CLINTON-METHODIST WOMEN
Hillary Clinton visiting Louisville in April
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Louisville next month, when she will be a keynote speaker at the United Methodist Women's Assembly.
United Methodist Women chief executive Harriett Jane Olson said in a statement that Clinton's work is in line with that of the organization. She says its members are eager to hear about Clinton's work with women throughout the world.
Clinton, who is a possible 2016 presidential contender, is speaking April 26. The assembly runs April 25 to 27 at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, was in Louisville last week for a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Senate OKs keeping e-cigarettes away from minors
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
Republican Sen. Paul Hornback says his bill is aimed at protecting youngsters from gaining access to the adult products.
Hornback, a Shelby County tobacco farmer, says the measure carries the same rules that apply in banning youth access to tobacco products.
The bill cleared the Senate on a 36-2 vote Thursday and now goes to the House.
A similar bill has been introduced in the House.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices resembling traditional cigarettes. They heat a liquid solution, creating vapor that users inhale to get nicotine without the smoke of regular cigarettes.
Catholic fundraising group gets new director
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Catholic Education Foundation of Louisville says its executive director is retiring in the summer.
Rosemary Bisig Smith announced Thursday that she will step down from the not-for-profit organization that raises money for Catholic education in the Louisville archdiocese.
Before taking the executive director job in 2004, Smith was the archdiocese's director of stewardship and was also director of development at Assumption High School in the 1980s.
Smith will be replaced by Richard Lechleiter, a former chief financial officer at Kindred Healthcare. He retired in January.
The foundation supports Catholic education through grants for religious education and technology enhancements for parishes and schools. In 2013, grants totaled $2.1 million.
Kentucky House panel approves adult abuse registry
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky House panel has approved legislation aimed at preventing abuse of people living in adult care facilities.
The measure would require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create and maintain a statewide registry of people convicted of adult abuse.
The measure would also prohibit long-term care facilities from employing those appearing on the list.
Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, a Democrat from Lexington, is the bill's sponsor. She said the bill has been in the works for several years and is finally enjoying bipartisan support.
The measure passed unanimously out of the House Health and Welfare Committee 14-0 on Thursday. It now moves to the full Kentucky House for consideration.
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