- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014
Kentucky speaker: Local option sales tax is focus

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - House Democrats’ top priority in January could be allowing local governments to temporarily raise taxes to help pay for construction projects, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Wednesday.

Stumbo had previously said that House Bill 1 - the spot reserve for the House majority’s top priority - would be a bill to legalize casino style gambling in Kentucky, an issue pushed by the state’s formidable horse racing industry and its popular Democratic governor.

But that changed when Churchill Downs, Louisville’s iconic horse racing track, donated money to a political action committee dedicated to electing Republicans to the state legislature. Democrats have an eight-seat majority in the House, one of the last Democratically-controlled state legislative bodies in the South.

“We’re going to have to go back to square one on (gambling),” Stumbo said. “I’m not going to say it can’t be done, but there are some wounds that need to be healed.”

Stumbo has already flip-flopped on the tax, opposing it early in the 2014 legislative session before changing his mind near the end. Republicans, who are trying to win control of the House for the first time since 1920, seized on that fact Wednesday.

“Last month the Speaker said HB 1 next year would be expanded gaming. This month it is local option sales tax. Maybe the real HB 1 should be to increase the number of months in a year so he can try and keep the numerous commitments he has made to various groups,” House Majority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said in a news release.


Humana 2Q profit falls 18 pct on higher costs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Health insurer Humana Inc.’s second-quarter net income fell by 18 percent as investments in health care exchanges and state-based contracts along with higher specialty drug costs more than offset continued membership growth in its Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.

The company’s results, released Wednesday, matched analysts’ expectations, and it reaffirmed its 2014 earnings estimate of between $7.25 and $7.75 per share.

Humana said membership in its individual Medicare Advantage business reached 2.36 million as of June 30, up 16.4 percent from a year ago and 14.2 percent higher than at the end of 2013.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company is among the nation’s largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for elderly and disabled people.

Membership in Humana’s individual stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plans totaled nearly 3.89 million at the end of June, up 20.5 percent from a year ago and 18.6 percent higher than at the end of 2013. Humana promotes its Medicare prescription drug offerings and other plans at Wal-Mart stores.

The company’s individual commercial medical membership increased to 1.12 million as of June 30, up 134.5 percent from a year ago.


Grand jury clears Madisonville police in shooting

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A western Kentucky grand jury has cleared Madisonville police in the shooting death of a 35-year-old man who pulled a weapon last month.

Kentucky State Police said a Hopkins County grand jury heard evidence in the case Tuesday and declined to indict in the death of Douglas M. Seaton of Madisonville.

State police said Seaton was stopped by local police June 21 but fled, with officers pursuing him for about a mile. State police said Seaton got out of his vehicle, brandished a firearm and wouldn’t comply with police commands as he approached officers. According to state police, Madisonville police fired shots, hitting Seaton, and he died at the scene.

State police said the two Madisonville officers, who weren’t identified, were placed on paid administrative leave, which is agency policy.


2 judicial nominees testify before committee

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two federal judicial nominees from Kentucky are now awaiting their fates after testifying Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

U.S. Attorney David J. Hale and Bowling Green lawyer Greg Stivers told senators about their qualifications and answered questions about their careers as they attempt to take places on the bench in the western half of Kentucky.

WKYU-FM in Bowling Green reported (https://bit.ly/UKU5zRhttps://bit.ly/UKU5zR ) that Stivers explained how practicing law for 29 years allowed him to learn from the judges he appeared before.

“I would say my best qualification is the fact that I have tried cases in front of judges and juries for the last 29 years, and through each of those cases, you learn a little bit from the way judges handle things,” Stivers said.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told his colleagues that he’s known Stivers, a partner in the Bowling Green law firm of Kerrick, Bachert, and Stivers, for more than two decades.

“He’s respected in the community, he has wisdom, a sense of justice, and a fidelity to the rule of law,” Paul said.



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