- 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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