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Rothenburger supports bill to up cell phone 911 charges
With landline telephone use declining, Rep. Martha Jane King has filed a bill aimed at boosting funding for emergency 911 services by raising a monthly fee on cell phones from 70 cents to $1.
Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger was one of a group who spoke in Frankfort on Thursday to support the bill filed King (D-Lewisburg). King said cell-phone calls to 911 services across the state account for about 70 percent of total call volume, and that rate rises to 80 percent in urban areas, she told the State Journal.
Fees collected from wireless phone users, however, account for just 20 percent of 911 funding, she said. As landline use has dropped, local governments have bridged the financial gap in 911 services by providing about 48 percent of overall funding.
House Bill 391 would steer 80 percent of new funds toward 911 services across the state, 15 percent to a next generation fund and 5 percent to increase grant funding for regionalization and consolidation efforts. The legislation would cut the disparity between prepaid and contractual cell phones, a gap that has cost local governments some $21 million over the past eight years, King said.
The wireless 911 fee has not increased since it began in 1998, she said.
In addition to Rothenburger, Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth and Woodford County Sheriff Wayne “Tiny” Wright joined King at the press conference. Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty and Magistrate Hubie Pollett also attended.
Each speaker said 911 systems across the state have funding gaps that must be filled, and they said a 30-cent wireless fee increase is not onerous given the importance of such emergency communications.
McConnell decries gay marriage ruling
Kentuckians should not have gay marriage "forced on us" by a federal court ruling, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday, even as opponents of the senator blamed him for the decision.
McConnell, calling himself a "traditionalist" who opposes same-sex marriage, was critical of a federal judge's decision to strike down parts of a 1998 Kentucky law and a 2004 amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that defined marriage as being between a man and a women.
"I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state," McConnell told the Herald Leader.
But opponents of McConnell were quick to note that U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II was appointed by President George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of McConnell, calling attention to Heyburn's time as general counsel when McConnell was Jefferson County judge-executive in the early 1980s.
Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in this year's Republican primary, said it was "no surprise" McConnell was a part of Heyburn's ascent to the federal bench.
"I'm deeply disappointed in Judge Heyburn's decision to overturn Kentucky's right to determine the definition of marriage within its own borders," Bevin said. "This type of judicial activism hurts America's democratic process."
Alison Lundergan Grimes, the likely Democratic challenger to McConnell, has previously expressed support for same-sex marriage, noting that she and her husband have been married for seven years. "I want to make sure all individuals have that same opportunity," she told the Herald-Leader in November.
Presidents Day closings
Federal and state offices will be closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day. That means that post offices will be closed. Banks also will be closed. Shelby County Public Schools, originally scheduled to be closed, will be open as a makeup snow day.
Transportation Cabinet to award scholarships
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will award up to 30 new scholarships for the 2014-2015 school year for students pursuing civil engineering and civil engineering technology degrees. As many as 20 competitively awarded scholarships for the civil engineering program will be awarded for students to attend the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University or Kentucky State University.
The KYTC Engineering Scholarship Program includes the opportunity for paid summer employment and placement with KYTC in a full-time job upon graduation. Students agree to work one year for KYTC for each year of scholarship assistance.
Freshmen and sophomores receive $5,750 per semester, and juniors and seniors receive $6,150 per semester to complete a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. Complete information is available at http://transportation.ky.gov/Education/Pages/Civil-Engineering-Scholarsh...
Complete information on the civil engineering technology program is at http://transportation.ky.gov/Education/Pages/Civil-Engineering-Technolog...
The deadline for applications for both scholarship programs is March 1, 2014. Recipients will be notified in April.
Distillery expansion gets incentives
Bourbon distilleries have been under discussion in Shelby County recently, and on Wednesday, underscoring the ongoing bourbon boom – and the government’s taxpayer support for it – a proposed renovation and expansion at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort received preliminary approval for up to approximately $550,000 in incentives. The decision, by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, was unanimous. The incentives are related to a roughly $2.2 million expansion of the distillery’s touring, tasting, retail, meeting and event facilities.
Election financing bill filed
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has filed a bill that is designed to help less-moneyed candidates when a wealthy candidate runs against them for a state constitutional office and dumps a lot of his own money into the race. House Bill 366 would raise the allowed individual contribution level from $1,000 to $2,500 per election as soon as an opposing candidate reaches the self-funding trigger — $1 million for a gubernatorial ticket and $500,000 for other constitutional offices.
Anderson grandmother indicted
Carolyn Case, the Anderson County woman charged with tying up her 3-year-old granddaughter, was arrested Friday morning after being indicted for allegedly falsifying her financial status to obtain a taxpayer-provided attorney.
The Anderson Grand Jury indicted Case on Wednesday with one count of first-degree perjury, a Class D felony, according to court documents.
Case was arrested Feb. 7 by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and taken to the Shelby County Detention Center. A cash bond was set for $5,000 cash, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Laura Donnell.
‘Cabin Fever’ cemetery tour inside chapel
The next Friends of Grove Hill cemetery tour will be Wednesday inside the heated chapel for “those with sore knees or even with cabin fever,” said Duanne Puckett, who coordinates the tours with Mike Harrod, the narrator for the “Stories Behind the Stones.”
The tour will begin at 1 p.m., when Harrod will provide historical background to photos presented on a PowerPoint. There will be light refreshments. A donation of $10 is requested, with proceeds to help the volunteers further their preservation work of monuments at Grove Hill Cemetery, which opened in 1854.
The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.