- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Bill financing research building gets final legislative OK

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to reopening the state’s two-year budget to supply taxpayer money for a new medical research building at the University of Kentucky, with the goal of increasing efforts to combat high disease rates plaguing Kentuckians.

The bill cleared the Republican-led Senate, 36-1. It already passed the Democratic-run House.

Gov. Steve Beshear praised lawmakers for sending him the legislation and said he will be pleased to sign it into law. The center will attract talented researchers striving for “rapid improvements in Kentucky’s collective health,” the governor said in a written statement.

“Kentuckians have suffered from poor health and early deaths for decades, and sadly, many of these diseases are preventable or manageable with proper health care,” Beshear said. “Combating these entrenched health problems requires big changes and big investments.”

Lawmakers are typically wary of delving into a current budget to make changes, but they were won over by arguments that the proposal amounts to an investment to improve the state’s miserable health statistics.

Kentucky has some of the nation’s highest rates of cancers and heart disease.

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Bill forcing Anheuser-Busch to sell 2 companies advances

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Anheuser-Busch lost more ground Tuesday in its fight to block legislation to ban breweries from distributing their own products when a Senate panel approved the House-passed measure intact.

The heavily lobbied bill, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, picked up support from key Senate Republicans in clearing the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. If the bill passes the Senate without any changes, it goes to Gov. Steve Beshear.

The measure would force Anheuser-Busch to sell its two distribution companies in Kentucky.

Anheuser-Busch, whose brands include Budweiser, Michelob and Busch, has owned a Louisville distributorship since 1978, when a judge ordered the state to grant it a wholesale distribution license. Last year, Anheuser-Busch sued the state again so it could buy a distributorship in Owensboro.

That prompted Stumbo to mount the effort to force the company to give up its distributorships. Craft brewers in the state worry Anheuser-Busch would only market its own products if it owned distributors.

One committee member, Republican Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville, flatly predicted at the end of the debate that the issue will end up being fought in the courts.

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Ky. may be last state to expand dating violence protections

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - More than 20 years after her daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend, Pat Byron had tears in her eyes after lawmakers announced an agreement Tuesday for Kentucky to become the last state in the country to offer victims of abusive dating relationships some civil protections.

“I’m not a politician. I’m just a mother,” she said. “And (I’m) just glad that they’ve finally seen the light.”

Republican and Democratic leaders said Tuesday they are likely to pass a bill this week that would allow victims of abusive dating relationships to seek emergency protective orders from the courts. Currently, Kentucky law allows these orders only for couples who are married, have lived together or have a child together.

The bill is the culmination of nearly a decade of lobbying efforts by victim advocacy groups and comes during an important election year in which Republicans and Democrats are vying for open seats for governor and attorney general. The Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman Sen. Whitney Westerfield is running for attorney general, approved the bill Tuesday morning with some slight amendments. The bill has already passed the House, and Democratic Judiciary Chairman John Tilley said he expects lawmakers to concur with the Senate bill once it passes.

The bill would allow victims of dating violence or abuse, sexual assault and stalking to ask a judge for an “interpersonal protective order” at any time. Police officers would be notified electronically of such orders the moment they are issued, and if people violate that order they can be arrested immediately without a warrant, according to the Legislative Research Commission.

Kentucky has the highest rate of stalking victims in the country, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Kentucky is the only state that does not offer civil protection of any kind to dating couples, said Carol Jordan, executive director of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky.

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Louisville tells homeowners to stop renting to travelers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Metro Louisville officials have sent letters to some homeowners that rent space to travelers through online home-sharing sites telling them to stop the practice immediately or they risk being fined.

The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1ARfZUg) reports the letters say the property owners are operating illegal hotel or motels and they could be fined up to $500 per day.

Several owners and their attorney say they would like to find a compromise with the city, and they don’t have any opposition to regulations and a licensing fee.

Jim Mims, who heads the city’s Develop Louisville office, said 20 violation notices were sent out based on complaints. He said no one is near a point of being fined and that officials are trying to determine the best course to move forward.

“This is not accommodated by our zoning ordinance and as such is in violation of our zoning ordinance,” Mims said.

Amy Linfield said she spent nearly $40,000 to improve a furnished duplex she bought near her home to rent out to travelers and the letter “certainly scared me and upset me.”

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