- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014
Bill takes aim at animal-rights videos at farms

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate voted Friday to punish animal-rights activists with jail and fines for secretly filming farm operations, attaching the proposal to legislation meant to prevent animal shelters from using gas chambers as a form of euthanasia.

But that’s as far as the bill may go. The Senate’s action drew a defiant response from the sponsor of the original House-passed bill.

Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins said she would not ask the House to take up the broader bill in the final days of the General Assembly session, which would kill the measure. She said the punishment proposed in the Senate version was misdirected.

“If a big factory farm is doing something that impacts the environment and public health, we shouldn’t be penalizing whistleblowers in those instances,” Jenkins said.

The provision to criminalize undercover filming or photographing of private farm animal operations was added by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week. The full Senate accepted the changes before passing the amended version on a 32-6 vote, sending it back to the House.

The amended measure would make it a misdemeanor for someone to gain access to a private farm under false pretenses and then film or photograph the operations without the landowner’s consent. Violators could face up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine.

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Kentucky budget talks break down

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A $500,000 roof on a Louisville domestic violence shelter threatened to derail the state’s $20 billion two-year state spending plan for health care, education and public safety.

Democratic state Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, wants state taxpayers to pay $500,000 to replace a roof on the Center for Women and Families in Louisville.

But Republican state Sen. Bob Leeper, R-Paducah, removed that money from the budget, saying it is the Senate’s policy not to include pet projects with no statewide impact in the two-year state spending plan.

“Congratulations to you,” Clark shot back. “I’ve still got a heart.”

With that, House and Senate lawmakers angrily walked away from the negotiating table with little progress after two days of budget talks. Lawmakers tried again Friday evening, meeting for four hours before adjourning in time to watch the University of Kentucky play the University of Louisville in the NCAA basketball tournament.

“I think it’s pretty normal,” House budget chairman Rick Rand, D-Bedford, said of the contentious meetings. “At some point the dam breaks and the water flows. I think that’s probably where we are.”

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Court grants DNA test in love triangle slaying

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A northern Kentucky inmate serving life in prison for murder has won a bid for DNA testing of evidence in the case after a court ruled that the law creating that right applies to her despite not being in effect at the time of her conviction.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the statute passed by lawmakers in 2013 applies to the case of 54-year-old Deborah Huiett, who a jury convicted in 2005 of killing a woman in a love triangle dispute.

Chief Judge Glenn Acree wrote for the court that unless the state Supreme Court decides otherwise, legal precedents dictate that the new law applies to old cases.

Huiett and her then-boyfriend, 52-year-old Leonard William Day, were convicted of slaying Tina Rae Stevens, who disappeared from a hotel near Burlington, Ky., in the southern suburbs of Cincinnati. Stevens’ remains were found in April 2000 in a remote section of Boone County.

Day is serving 50 years in prison.

Kentucky’s original DNA testing law only allowed access to inmates sentenced to death. Because Huiett received a life sentence, she remained ineligible to force testing on hairs found with Steven’s body. Lawmakers in 2013 altered the law to encompass testing for anyone convicted of a violent felony. But, the law remained silent on whether the statute applied retroactively to people convicted before its adoption.

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Bill requires parents to be in court with teens

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers have given final approval to a bill requiring parents to be in court when their teenage children are accused of traffic violations.

The Senate passed the bill on a 38-0 vote Friday, sending it to Gov. Steve Beshear. The bill previously passed the House.

Supporters say the bill stems from the death of a Kentucky teenager who died in a traffic crash while speeding.

They say the same teen was stopped for speeding previously, but his case went through the courts without his parents’ knowledge.

The bill seeks to ensure parents know when their children are accused of traffic violations. It would apply to cases involving youngsters under age 18. In most cases, their parents or guardians would have to attend their court proceedings.

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