- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Juvenile justice bill clears legislature

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers completed work Monday on a bill that would revamp the state’s juvenile justice system by steering more young offenders into community-based treatment as an alternative to locking them up in detention centers.

The measure won final legislative approval on a 30-8 vote in the Senate on the next-to-last day of the 2014 regular session. All eight opposing votes came from Senate Republicans. The bill, which had won strong backing in the House, now goes to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for his consideration.

Beshear signaled his support, saying the measure represents progress in “starting to tackle such an important and complicated issue.” The governor praised the bipartisan work on the bill, led by Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield and Democratic Rep. John Tilley, both of Hopkinsville.

Westerfield has said his bill would bring the biggest changes in decades to Kentucky’s juvenile justice system.

“It is a step toward getting better outcomes for our kids and doing so for less taxpayer money,” he said Monday.

Supporters have estimated the changes would produce about $24 million in savings over five years by emphasizing treatment over detention.

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Lawmakers reviewing Rupp Arena financing proposal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Supporters of a plan to renovate Rupp Arena made a final pitch Monday to win over Kentucky lawmakers who are reluctant to let state government help finance the project.

A revised financing plan was presented to lawmakers on the next-to-last day of this year’s regular legislative session.

The newest effort to gain state support to update the home of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team comes a week after the Wildcats played for another national championship. Kentucky came up just short, losing to Connecticut.

Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday the new financing proposal calls for $80 million in state-backed bonding but does not feature another long-sought element - a proposal allowing Lexington officials to raise the city’s hotel tax to help pay for the project. The hotel tax measure passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

Lawmakers already refused to include $65 million in Rupp Arena-related state bonding in the $20.3 billion, two-year state budget that passed the legislature.

Since then, the Democratic governor has been among those still trying to recruit lawmakers to support financing the renovation, which would include building a new convention center and updating Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.

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Kentucky road projects in jeopardy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Billions of dollars in Kentucky road projects were in jeopardy Monday night after House and Senate leaders could not agree on a two-year spending plan.

Lawmakers agree on the big projects - like the Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky and the Mountain Parkway in eastern Kentucky - but they cannot come to terms on the hundreds of smaller projects scattered throughout the state.

Republican state senators blamed the House for refusing to meet with them during the two-week veto period that ended Friday. Democratic representatives blamed the Senate for leaving the Capitol about 5 p.m. to have dinner at the Frankfort Country Club to honor retiring senators.

The state constitution requires lawmakers to adjourn for the year by midnight April 15. Monday night, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said it was still possible for lawmakers to reach an agreement. If they can’t, Stivers said the Senate will likely pass a bill allowing the state to pay for projects that have already been approved.

“We can give the transportation cabinet enough authority through a continuing budget resolution bill to go ahead and continue operations,” Stivers said. “Then we’ll be back here in less than nine months and can fill in the gaps.”

But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the House would not pass a continuing resolution.

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Whitesburg Mountain Eagle publisher Pat Gish dies

WHITESBURG, Ky. (AP) - Patricia Gish, who along with her husband Tom Gish ran The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg for a half-century, died Sunday at her home in Letcher County. She was 87.

Her son, Ben Gish, said she had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for about a decade.

“She was just such a hard worker,” Ben Gish said, recalling how his mother would take a Greyhound bus from Hazard to Louisville every weekend while working on a master’s degree at the University of Louisville in the 1960s.

Ben Gish said he recently came across a quote by his mother from a speech at New York University in 1999. It said “bloom where you are planted,” meaning one can do good journalism at small newspapers in rural areas, he said.

“That was her attitude,” he said.

Pat Gish’s first job at a newspaper came at age 13, when she was hired as proofreader at a paper in Danville, Ill. She later took the same job at the Lexington Leader and worked her way up to become a statehouse reporter. She married Tom Gish in 1948 and the couple bought the Whitesburg newspaper in southeastern Kentucky in 1956.

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