- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014
Ky. same-sex marriage recognition put on hold

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A federal judge is giving Kentucky more time to officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries, saying doing so will allow the law to become settled without causing confusion or granting rights only to have them taken away.

The ruling Wednesday comes just two days before gay couples would have been allowed to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain the benefits of any other married couple in Kentucky.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II of Louisville said in a four-page order that it is “best that these momentous changes occur upon full review” rather than being implemented too soon or causing confusing changes.

“That does not serve anyone well,” said Heyburn, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Heyburn said the delay would stay in place until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati either rules on the merits of the case or orders the stay lifted.

Heyburn’s order is similar to those granting same-sex marriage recognition rights but putting the implementation on hold in Texas, Utah, Virginia and other states.

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Senate OKs proposal to cut legislative sessions

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers would spend less time in session under a proposal that passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Wednesday.

The proposed change to the state constitution aims to cut the amount of time lawmakers are in session by a third over each two-year period.

Senate President Robert Stivers said his proposal would save money and encourage more people to run for legislative seats.

Lawmakers now meet for 90 days every two years, which takes them away from jobs and their families for months at a time, he said.

“There are people in this chamber, as we stand here and sit here today, that have thought about leaving or are leaving because we are no longer a citizen legislature,” said Stivers, R-Manchester.

The measure cleared the Republican-led Senate on a 34-3 vote and now goes to the Democratic-run House. The proposed revisions to the legislative calendar would go on the November ballot for Kentucky voters to decide if it clears the General Assembly.

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Ky. House panel OKs trial use of cannabis oil

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers took another key step Wednesday toward legalizing a medicinal oil derived from marijuana or hemp as an option to treat severe childhood seizures.

The bill, once seemingly a long shot, cleared the House Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support and now heads to the House floor - where it’s backed by the chamber’s top leader. The measure has already passed the Senate.

If it becomes law, the measure would represent a limited breakthrough for medicinal use of a derivative of marijuana, a plant banned in the state decades ago.

The House panel advanced the bill after hearing from an eastern Kentucky woman who wants her son to be treated with the non-intoxicating oil, which would be administered orally under the tongue.

Rita Wooton held up a photo of her 4-year-old son Eli and a plastic bag filled with drugs that she said have not worked in treating Eli’s seizures. The family made more than two dozen trips to Cincinnati last year to have her son treated, resulting in mounting medical bills and related costs, she said.

The measure offers a chance for a new treatment without having to take her son out of Kentucky to legally gain access to the drug, she said.

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Senate committee kills tanning bed ban

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky state Senate committee has killed a bill that would have banned teenagers from using tanning beds.

The bill would have banned anyone under 18 from using a tanning bed without a doctor’s prescription. Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, said he sponsored the bill to stop the increasing number of skin cancer cases.

The bill passed the House by a 61-31 vote earlier this month. But the bill failed to get the six votes it needed to advance to the Senate floor.

Republican state Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, said he does not support the bill because it is an example of the government telling people how to live their lives. He noted his wife had skin cancer in her 20s that was not caused by a tanning bed.

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