NEWS DIGEST: Feb. 26, 2014

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By The Staff

Opposition mounting to bill

to allow heavier tractor-trailers

A bill is making its way through the Kentucky General Assembly that would increase the maximum weight for tractor-trailer trucks from 80,000 to 88,000 pounds and allow trucks hauling poultry and agricultural products to travel on all state and local roads is drawing mounted opposition.

Senate Bill 44, presented Tuesday before the House Transportation Committee, has raised several concerns among safety and some emergency responder groups, saying the measure could endanger Kentucky motorists. And according to a news release from the Coalition Against Big Trucks, it would cause added wear and tear on the roads and bridges, which ultimately would cost more to repair.

“The thought of adding up to eight thousand pounds to each of these trucks does not make sense,” said Tom Adams, president of the Kentucky Ambulance Providers Association in the news release.

“EMS personnel across the commonwealth don’t have an economic interest in the outcome of this bill — our interest is the safety of Kentuckians traveling on our roads.”


Senate OKs weapons in bars

The Senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns into Kentucky bars as long as they do not drink.

Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-Lexington) was one of four who voted against Senate Bill 60. He told the Herald-Leader that alcohol and guns do not mix and predicted that the measure would cause a spike in shootings at bars.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Schickel (R-Union), said it is needed for self-defense.

The Senate also unanimously approved SB 66, which would require law-enforcement officers to have reasonable suspicion to stop and enter a boat.


Other bills stymied

With fewer than 30 meeting days remaining in Kentucky‘s 2014 General Assembly, only two of the more than 570 proposed bills have been signed into law: one sets a deadline for creating voter precincts and the second expands prescribing power for nurses.

Left hanging are numerous high-profile proposals on tax reform, gambling, heroin abuse, minimum wage and the use of eminent domain to build the Bluegrass Pipeline — with most moving at a glacial pace, if at all.
But House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) predicts that “things will start happening a lot quicker” in the session’s second half.
“As long as they’re still alive, and there’s [nearly] thirty days left, no telling what can happen,” he told The Courier-Journal.

When lawmakers adjourned Friday, Senate Republicans were pressing hardest for the Democratic-led House to move forward on a $19 billion state budget proposal that Gov. Steve Beshear released in January.

Senate President Robert Stivers said his chamber will need to receive the House version by the first week of March to have adequate time to review changes and make revisions.
Similarly, Stumbo said Thursday that a tax overhaul doesn’t “appear to have legs” and suggested the issue is too complicated to address so far into the session.

Also, legislation clarifying that state law does not give condemnation powers to developers of the Bluegrass Pipeline has received a hearing before a House committee but not a vote.

The pipeline would transport natural gas liquids, from Bracken County to Breckinridge County. But some have raised objections over safety and environmental concerns.
House Bill 31 would clear up the portion of state law that deals with the use of eminent domain for private projects, and Beshear has endorsed the legislation. Backers say they hope to have a vote in the next two weeks.


Rotary sets speech contest

The Shelbyville Rotary Club will be hosting its annual speech contest on Saturday at the law office of Mathis, Riggs, and Prather in downtown Shelbyville.

The competition, which will begin at 9 a.m., is open to any high school student who lives in Shelby County or attends a high school in Shelby County. The contestants will compete for over $800 in prize money and the opportunity to move on to the sectional and state contests, where the cash prize money increases at each level.  The theme for this year's contest is:  "Engage Rotary, Change Lives".
Any interested student should contact Mark Hewlett at drhewlett@bellsouth.netor 633-2229.


Eminence students 1-1 on technology

Eminence Independent students K-12 will have access to personal devices: iPods, iPads and MacBook Pros. Superintendent Buddy Berry said that with Title 1 federal money, funds allocated based on a district’s poverty level, the Eminence School Board was able to make a true one-to-one personal device available for all students.

“We had accumulated the iPads and iPods already and now we can push the computers down to the other grades,” Berry told the Henry County Local. “Each student and classroom will have access to these devices and they will be fluid for them to use. Third grade through seniors will now have their own Macbooks.”

Berry said only the high school students will be allowed to take the Macbooks home for personal use until they see how the initiative goes. K, first and second-graders will use specifically the iPads and iPods for uses in school.


KSU adds first doctorate

The elderly may soon see more Kentucky State University graduates at the doctor’s office thanks to a gerontology-focused nursing doctorate degree that gained approval Monday. The KSU Board of Regents approved offering an online-only doctor of nursing practice degree – the first doctorate to be offered at the school, the State Journal reported.

Student regent Julian Jeter-Davis was the only regent who voted against it. He did not explain the reasoning behind his vote.
This fall, the university was designated a level five institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a designation that will allow KSU to implement up to three doctoral programs.
The nursing program will focus on gerontology in order to meet a growing need in the field as the population ages and people are living longer than in previous generations.

SBDM meeting
Southside Elementary's Site-Based Decision-Making Council has scheduled a work session for 5 p.m. today in the school’s library.


Roadwork, closings:

  • Interstate 64:Lane closures and delays are possible at any time on Interstate 64from the Welcome Center to half-mile east of KY 55 (mile points 27.9 to 32.8) because of roadway widening. Lane closures are possible Sunday through Friday from 7 p.m. each evening until 5 the following morning and on Saturdays from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sundays. A 12-foot width restriction is in place for the eastbound lanes of I-64 in this work zone.
  • KY 1848:Shoulder closures and construction delays possible at the I-64 interchange (mile points 4.6 to 6.4) because of roadway widening. One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction. The speed limit is reduced to 35 MPH in the work zone.


The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.