News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EST

Thursday, January 23, 2014

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Attorney warns of problems with 2 casino bills

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers would violate their oath to uphold the Constitution if they passed two casino-related measures at the same time, an expanded-gambling opponent told a House committee on Wednesday.

A court challenge would likely result, said attorney Stan Cave, representing The Family Foundation.

Cave’s comments provided a new twist to a perennial debate about expanded gambling in a state with a long history of wagering on horses that has resisted casinos.

The testimony came as the House Licensing and Occupations Committee reviewed two gambling proposals sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville. It did not vote on the measures.

One is a proposed constitutional amendment that would let Kentucky voters decide whether they want to legalize casinos. A companion bill would specify in state law how many casinos to allow, how the industry would be regulated and how the state’s share of revenue would be distributed.

Clark, the House’s second-ranking member, said Kentuckians deserve to know such specifics before getting a chance to decide on the ballot measure.

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Rogers touts plan to expand Internet in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers said Wednesday that the federal government should have a continued role in spreading high-speed Internet access to the struggling coalfields of eastern Kentucky.

The Kentucky Republican said the federal spending bill passed by Congress last week included $10 million to expand broadband access to distressed areas of central Appalachia.

“I’m hopeful that this will be the beginning of federal investments for broadband in our hard-hit coalfields,” Rogers told reporters at the Kentucky Capitol.

As chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Rogers will have an influential voice in trying to direct more federal money to link underserved areas to high-speed broadband service. Rogers‘ district covers much of eastern Kentucky, which has areas lacking such broadband access.

Rogers expressed support for a plan outlined by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday to connect all of Kentucky to high-speed Internet service.

Kentucky ranks 46th nationally in high-speed broadband availability, and nearly a quarter of the state’s population lacks broadband access, Beshear said.

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