- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014
Kentucky House rejects eminent domain for pipeline

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky House has passed legislation that would bar private natural gas liquid companies from using eminent domain laws to acquire property.

Companies such as the Bluegrass Pipeline project would be required to purchase land from consenting property owners before they can build on it.

Under current Kentucky law, oil and natural gas companies are given the use of eminent domain to claim easements for public service projects, but there is no specific language granting the same privilege to natural gas liquid companies.

Bill sponsor Rep. John Tilley, a Hopkinsville Democrat, said natural gas liquids do not provide a public service and don’t qualify for eminent domain privilege.

Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, is a co-sponsor of the legislation. He said the materials pumped through the pipeline are hazardous materials for which Kentuckians receive no financial or environmental benefit.

“It’s like a colon that takes stuff and drops it down in Louisiana,” he said. “Only it’s not my products. It’s somebody else’s.”


Ky. House OKs bill to help finance Rupp renovation

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Supporters of a plan to help finance Rupp Arena’s renovation are facing their own version of March Madness in trying to win over Kentucky lawmakers.

Their proposal advanced to the next round Friday. The state House voted 52-40 to endorse the idea of letting Lexington officials increase their local hotel tax to generate money to help update the home of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team.

The $310 million project also includes building a new convention center near Rupp in downtown Lexington.

Next up is the Senate, which could present a more daunting obstacle for the bill’s supporters.

The measure drew a tepid response from Senate President Robert Stivers following the House action.

“We’re getting it late in the session,” the Manchester Republican said. “The reality is we only know of the essence of the bill, we do not know of the details of the bill. We understand there is quite a bit of division of Lexington over the issue.”


Police arrest man after chase on Interstate 64

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville police tackled and arrested a man they say led them on a multi-county chase that ended on Interstate 64.

Multiple media outlets reported that the chase started at about 2:55 p.m. Friday after the owner of a semi rig spotted the cab, which had been reported stolen Thursday night. The owner called police and followed the rig.

Police say they joined the pursuit and the driver of the stolen vehicle led them down the Watterson Expressway, Interstate 71 and finally I-64, heading east toward Shelby County. The driver exited at Simpsonville, crossed over I-64 and got back on the interstate heading west.

The driver was stopped in eastern Louisville and ran a short distance before numerous officers tackled and arrested him.

Police identified the man as 45-year-old Erik Atwell.


5 ex-state officials assessed with ethics fines

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Five current or former state officials - including a former lawmaker and agency chief - must pay a combined $21,500 in ethics fines for offenses that include pressuring state workers for campaign donations and using a state contract to ship a privately owned alligator skin to a Georgia taxidermist.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission unanimously approved settlement agreements for five people on Friday, including former state Rep. Charles Geveden Sr. and Jonathan Gassett, the former commissioner for the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

The commission fined Geveden $5,000 for using his influence as deputy secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to access his employees’ private telephone numbers. Geveden then called those workers at home and told them how much they should donate to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s 2011 re-election campaign - amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000.

The case marks the first time the commission has fined someone for pressuring state employees to make political donations, according to John Steffen, the commission’s executive director.

“This is the first time anybody has ever really said you can’t use your position to solicit campaign donations from state employees across the board. Not just merit employees, but non-merit employees,” Steffen said. “It’s using one’s position to put pressure on one to donate. He didn’t threaten anybody with losing their job specifically. But if the boss calls you and tells you donate $500, the implication is there.”

J. Guthrie True, Geveden’s attorney, said Geveden was the victim of political gamesmanship. He said the chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party filed the ethics complaint against Geveden so the Republican candidate for governor would have something to talk about it during the 2011 Fancy Farm Picnic, Kentucky’s largest political gathering.

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