NEWS DIGEST: Feb. 7, 2014

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By The Staff

Smoke-free bills

are introduced

Senate Bill 117, a bill that would make all indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free throughout Kentucky, has been introduced in the Kentucky Senate, along with its companion HB 173, by state Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington) and Rep. Julie Adams (R-Louisville).
“Smoke-free workplace legislation has been filed in the House for the past 3 years,” bill sponsor Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville) said in a release announcing the firing. “I’ve also been supportive of those bills and have been anxiously awaiting the chance to vote for them. I decided it’s high time the Senate had a chance to address this critical public health and business issue.

“The dangers of secondhand smoke and the benefits of smoke-free policy are well-documented.  Kentucky’s smoking rates are the highest in the country, and since many people in Kentucky don’t live in smoke-free communities, they are exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis. There is no better time to protect the rights of all Kentuckians to breathe clean air. I firmly believe people should not have to risk their health to earn a paycheck, so I’m asking my colleagues to support this common-sense legislation.”

Polls have shown that comprehensive, statewide smoke-free workplace legislation is supported by a majority of both Republican and Democratic voters.

If either bill passes, Kentucky would join 24 states and 22 local communities in making all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free.


Gaming bill may have backing

The Senate majority caucus soon will discuss whether there are enough votes to pass a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling in Kentucky, Caucus Chair Dan Seum said Wednesday. Seum, a Fairdale Republican and sponsor of Senate Bill 33, told the State Journal he’s close to having enough votes to pass his legislation, which would amend the constitution to allow expanded gaming at seven locations and create an Equine Excellence Fund that would collect 10 percent of gross gaming revenue.

Because SB 33 proposes amending the state constitution, a three-fifths majority — or 23 votes — would be needed to send the measure to the House.


Medical cannabis bill coming

State Sen. Julie Denton, in her last session as a member of the General Assembly, said Wednesday she plans to file a bill allowing the medicinal use of low-concentration cannabis oil. The debate at the Capitol on medicinal marijuana has ramped up in recent years, but Denton (R-Louisville) told the State Journal that the oils dealt with in her legislation lack the psychoactive effects of marijuana. The medicinal oils would only be available at University of Kentucky and University of Louisville hospitals under the bill, Denton said.


Pipeline letter-writing campaign
Supporters from Scott County of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline recently began to endorse the project by writing letters to the News-Graphic in Georgetown to applaud this controversial project.

Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP wants to build the pipeline across the country, and its route would touch on the southeastern corner of Shelby County. Several fiscal courts and other groups have expressed their opposition to the project, largely because it would transport natural gas liquids (NGLs) from drilling fields in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to shipping ports and factories on the Gulf Coast.

Opponents of the pipeline have cautioned that breaks could have catastrophic effects in the form of pollution and possible explosions.
The letters received by the newspaper all bore a strong resemblance to one another, each formatted in similar style and printed in a similar typeface. Each bore the handwritten signature of the landowner, along with his or her telephone number.

Project spokesperson Tom Droege said there is an “outreach team” that works in the field with land agents and they do encourage landowners to express their support of the proposed pipeline which he said is still on schedule to be in service by the end of 2015.

“In certain cases, we’ve provided help by writing the letters,” he said.
money out of it,” he said.


Teacher eval system could change
A proposed regulation for teacher and principal evaluation systems would hold educators accountable in new and consistent ways statewide. The Kentucky Board of Education discussed the regulation at a meeting in Frankfort. The board will hold a work session in April before voting on the regulation, the Herald-Leader reported. Right now virtually every district has a different system.

"Every parent wants their child to be with a highly effective teacher or one that would be considered accomplished," Associate Kentucky Education Commissioner Felicia Smith said. She said the new model would provide evidence that each educator is helping students make progress.

The vision for the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System calls for evaluation through observation by peers and supervisors, students' performance, and evaluations by students themselves.
Under the regulation, teachers and principals would, in part, be evaluated on state standardized tests and measures that are comparable across schools in a local district. Several personnel actions could result from the evaluations, including corrective action plans, Smith said.
Teachers would be evaluated with designations of "exemplary," "accomplished," "developing" or "ineffective," according to the regulation.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has described the system as providing educators meaningful feedback and tools to improve their teaching techniques. 


Collins to speak at history center

Former Gov. Martha Layne Collins of Shelby County will be the guest speaker on Feb. 27 when the latest winner of the Thomas D. Clark Medallion, Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy, will be celebrated during a presentation at 4 p.m. in the Brown-Forman room at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky Historyin Frankfort.

Collins will speak on her experiences in state government and the importance of books like this in helping citizens understand the political process. Jack Brammer, a Shelbyville resident and Frankfort reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, will moderate the event, which is free and open to the public.

The Thomas D. Clark foundation was established in 1994 in honor of Thomas Clark, Kentucky’s historian laureate and founder of the University Press of Kentucky. Since 2012, the foundation has chosen one book which highlights Kentucky history and culture to be honored with a Thomas D. Clark Medallion. Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy joins previous winner, The Hills Remember: The Complete Short Stories of James Still, as the second book so honored.


Safley to address Rotary

Jessica Safley, a community outreach manager with Hosparus for three years, serving Shelby and surrounding counties, will be the speaker at the Shelbyville Rotary Club’s meeting on Tuesday.

Rotary meets at the Centenary United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Washington and 5th Streets in Shelbyville. Programs are open to the public, but there is a nominal charge for the luncheon.


First Parent Academy scheduled

Shelby County Public Schools’ first Parent Academy of 2014 has been scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shelby County High School. Its focus is on College and Career Readiness at the elementary level.

Topics to be discussed include technology, intervention and enrichment and advocating for your child. Every parent of an elementary student is invited.

Early registration is encouraged and can be completed by going to the “Parent Academy” area www.shelby.kyschools.us,

All attendees who participate in the entire academy will receive free admission to the SCHS varsity basketball game that evening.


SBDM council meetings

  • Wright Elementary will hold a meeting of its Site-Based Decision-Making Council at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
  • Shelby County High School’s SBDM will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday.


Roadwork, closings:

  • Interstate 64:In addition to tonight’s closure of the right lane eastbound on I-64 between Simpsonville and Exit 35 in Shelbyville, lane closures and delays are possible at any time from 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.