- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Lawmakers fail to approve bonding for Rupp project

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The clock finally ran out on a proposal to insert state-supported bonding into the financing packaging to renovate Rupp Arena.

Kentucky lawmakers ended their 2014 regular session Tuesday night without voting on whether to authorize up to $80 million in state bonding to help update the home court of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team.

The project also includes building a new convention center in downtown Lexington.

The last-minute proposal had remained in limbo as supporters tried to win over reluctant Republican senators.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who led the push for the state-backed bonding, said he would continue to work toward making the project a reality.

“Delaying this project needlessly delays positive economic development for the central Kentucky region, but I am confident that we will forge a path forward,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

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Road-spending plan passes Kentucky legislature

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky House and Senate lawmakers agreed Tuesday to a $4.1 billion road-spending plan on the Legislature’s final day, avoiding an expensive special session.

The plan includes $5.2 billion worth of projects throughout the state. But as much as 25 percent of that money will not be spent. Lawmakers said they like to include a cushion in case some projects are delayed because of environmental concerns or problems acquiring land.

Republicans and Democrats clashed over the spending plan Monday, when leaders of both parties said it was unlikely they would reach a deal. That could have led Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to call the legislature back to Frankfort for a special session that would have cost taxpayers $60,000 per day.

But lawmakers emerged from hours of closed-door meetings Tuesday to say they had reached an agreement both bodies could pass.

In an election year when Republicans are trying to take control of the House, the road-funding plan ended up showcasing the political and philosophical differences between the two parties. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and House Democratic leaders wanted to restore the state gas tax to the level it had been in December 2013. That would have raised the tax 1.5 cents per gallon and generated $107 million over the next two years to pay for more projects.

But Senate Republicans attacked that proposal as a tax increase, setting up nearly three weeks of contentious negotiations that almost ended without an agreement. House Democrats agreed to give up the gas-tax increase and Senate Republicans agreed to add more projects to the plan.

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Law grad gets life term in woman’s torture, death

NEW YORK (AP) - A University of Florida law school graduate was sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday in the torture and death of his girlfriend, who can be heard begging for her life after her cellphone apparently pocket-dialed a friend and recorded her dying words.

Jason Bohn, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder in March for the June 2012 beating and strangulation of Weight Watchers financial analyst Danielle Thomas, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The body of Thomas, 27, a native of Danville, Ky., who also attended the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida, was found in her bathtub surrounded by ice.

Police also recovered two handwritten notes.

One said: “It was an accident … I was drunk when I got home … I woke up and there was fighting between us … When I woke up again she was unconscious … I am sorry.”

The second note read: “Dani, I will love you forever” and was signed “J.”

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Cancer-stricken ex-priest on trial for sex abuse

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - As testimony began in a long-delayed trial against former Catholic priest James Schook, a witness said Tuesday that he had numerous sexual encounters with Schook, beginning at age 13, at a Louisville church in the 1970s.

Schook, 66, was indicted on seven sodomy charges in 2011, but he sought several delays of the court proceedings as he battled terminal skin cancer.

The witness, Richard Whitfield, said Tuesday that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Schook that began when he was 13 and lasted through high school.

Whitfield, 56, told the jury that he began having sexual encounters with Schook in the summer of 1971.

“I had this feeling we were probably doing something wrong,” Whitfield testified to the Jefferson Circuit Court jury, which was selected on Monday. He said most of the alleged abused occurred in Schook’s room in the rectory at St. Rita Catholic Church in Louisville.

“The doors were closed and we were just very quiet,” Whitfield said.

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