- Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014
Grimes defends coal, touts jobs plan for Kentucky

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes vowed to press President Barack Obama to “do the right thing” and give coal its rightful place in a national energy policy, as the U.S. Senate candidate took her campaign to the eastern Kentucky coalfields Thursday night.

Grimes said she would work to “rein in” federal regulations aimed at mines and coal-fired power plants, and would strive to secure a “meaningful, long-term place for coal” in the nation’s energy mix.

“As your next United States senator, I will work with anyone who sides with Kentucky, and I will oppose anyone who tries to undercut our needs, our resources and our very values,” she said.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to tie Grimes to Obama, a fellow Democrat who has never been popular in Kentucky. Grimes said Thursday night she would press the case for coal to the White House.

“I will call on the president to do the right thing and to develop an energy plan that does not threaten the livelihood of Kentuckians and that gives America the benefit of our coal,” she said.

Grimes was joined by a number of prominent Kentucky Democrats, including state lawmakers and former governors, as she delivered her speech in Prestonsburg.


Felons’ voting rights proposal clears House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A bill seeking to amend Kentucky’s Constitution to restore voting rights for some felons sailed through the state House on Thursday. Unlike past years, the proposed ballot issue is showing signs of life in the Senate.

Soon after the measure cleared the Democratic-led House on 82-12 vote, a top Senate leader said majority Republicans in that chamber are keeping “an open mind” about the bill.

“This may just be an issue whose time has come, with a few minor changes, if people are willing to compromise,” Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer told reporters.

Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he doesn’t support the proposal in its current form. But he raised the possibility of amending it to insert a waiting period before some felons would regain voting rights.

“That gives them time to re-immerse themselves in society and prove that they’re not going to return to committing more felonies and give them an opportunity to prove they can be good citizens,” Thayer said.

In past years, similar measures passed the House but died in the Senate.


Bill taking aim at heroin clears Ky. Senate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate passed a bill Thursday to combat a deadly surge in heroin addiction, a trend blamed for devastating families while putting a burden on courts and police in hard-hit areas.

The measure, a mix of additional treatment for addicts and harsher punishment for higher-volume heroin dealers, cleared the Senate on a 36-0 vote.

It came on the same day that a Senate committee reviewing the measure was urged to take action by a judge, a nurse, a police chief and the father of a man who died of a heroin overdose.

The scope of the problem is statewide, but Kentucky’s northernmost counties situated near Cincinnati have been especially hard hit by the rise in heroin addiction.

“Overdoses have become a daily occurrence in northern Kentucky,” said Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, a northern Kentucky Republican and the bill’s lead sponsor. “Heroin has overwhelmed our court system, jails, police departments and social service networks.”

The bill now heads to the House, where the measure’s leading supporter is House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Tilley, a Hopkinsville Democrat.


1 killed in Army helicopter ‘hard landing’ in Ga.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A member of an elite Army helicopter unit was killed and two crew members suffered injuries when their aircraft slammed into the ground as they tried to land at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, a military spokesman said Thursday.

The MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was returning from a routine training flight when it made a “hard landing” just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday on or near the airstrip at the base in coastal Georgia, said Army Maj. Allen Hill, a spokesman for the crew’s aviation unit.

The three-man crew was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which trains soldiers to fly helicopters behind enemy lines under cover of darkness. Nicknamed the Night Stalkers, the unit was responsible for flying Navy SEALs into Pakistan during the 2010 raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. The 160th regiment is headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky., but has a battalion stationed in Savannah.

Hill said Thursday the Army was still investigating what went wrong at the end of the training flight late Wednesday.

“They were on final approach,” he said. “Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.”

Hill said he did not know how badly the helicopter was damaged or if it landed on the tarmac or in the grass. Local television news footage taken from a distance showed the aircraft leaning to one side near the base’s runway.

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