McConnell recruiting Kentucky House candidates for GOP
FRANKFORT (AP) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it’s “inevitable” Republicans will take control of the Kentucky House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats.
McConnell spoke with reporters briefly Wednesday following a private meeting with newly-elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin at the state Capitol. McConnell has the daunting task of trying to preserve the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate this fall. But he said he has been recruiting candidates for Kentucky’s state House elections for months and said he will be “as active as (Republicans) will like for me to be.”
“The shift in the House is inevitable, it’s just a question of time,” McConnell said.
Democrats have a 50-46 advantage in the House after four lawmakers resigned and two Democrats switched parties. Republicans have a majority in the state Senate but have not controlled the state House since 1920. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo told The Courier-Journal the state Democratic Party is considering suing lawmakers who switched parties.
“There has been some discussion at the party level asking for litigation, asking for return of dollars, donations to the candidates that changed their party affiliation.” Stumbo told the newspaper. “The theory of fraud.”
McConnell said his meetings with lawmakers and potential candidates focused on convincing people to help change Kentucky. Bevin called Stumbo’s comments “embarrassing” and said they were embarrassing to him and his party.
“They smack of desperation that is frankly beneath even him,” Bevin said.
The Kentucky legislature convened Tuesday for the start of a 60-day session. Lawmakers are expected to craft a two year, $21.4 billion state spending plan, among other legislation.
Mining industry deaths at all-time low in 2015
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Federal officials say U.S. mining industry deaths reached an all-time low in 2015.
Preliminary data from the Department of Labor says 28 miners were killed on the job, down from 45 in 2014, a 37 percent reduction. There were 11 deaths in coal mines, another all-time low mark.
Nevada recorded the most fatalities with four, followed by three deaths in Pennsylvania.
The leading fatal cause in metal and non-metal mining was attributed to machinery accidents, with five, while powered haulage and machinery accidents killed six in coal mines.
U.S. Mine Health and Safety Administration chief Joe Main says coal mine closures had some effect on the low coal mine total, but says his agency also has put an increased focus on safety in recent years.
‘Gold Star’ license plates now available for siblings
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky now has a special license plate for siblings of people who died while serving in the military.
The addition came as a result of legislation passed last year. Previously, only parents and spouses of the deceased were entitled to apply for a “Gold Star” license plate.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced the new plate on Tuesday. It said applicants must complete an affidavit and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
Once the application is verified, the plate costs $31, which includes a $10 mandatory contribution to the Veterans’ Program Trust Fund. Each annual renewal is $26 with a $5 mandatory contribution fee.
Since the Gold Star plate program began in 2006, the cabinet says 136 parents and spouses had received them through December.
Louisville Slugger Museum has record attendance in 2015
LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory says it is celebrating a record number of visitors.
In a statement, museum officials said 314,149 people visited the museum and factory in 2015. That number eclipsed the former record of 303,037 guests in 2013.
Vice President Anne Jewell said it’s exciting to have such momentum going into 2016, when the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary.
The statement said several factors contributed to the high attendance including a popular exhibit of trading cards and longer summer hours.
2 inmates from minimum-security Lexington prison apprehended
LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky State Police say they have apprehended two inmates who fled a minimum-security state prison in Lexington.
Police said in a news release that 24-year-old Jordan Green and 23-year-old Waltez Franklin were located Tuesday afternoon in Harrison County near railroad tracks, where a railroad employee reported seeing them.
The Department of Corrections says Green was serving a 28-year sentence at Blackburn Correctional Complex for convictions out of Boone County that included robbery and burglary.
The website says Franklin was serving a 20-year sentence for convictions out of Warren County for robbery and assault.
It is unclear how the men escaped Monday evening.
Man jailed after shouting racial epithet at judge in court
LOUISVILLE (AP) — A man has been jailed after he shouted a racial slur at a judge as he was being taken into custody.
The Courier-Journal reports that Jefferson Circuit Juge Olu Stevens sentenced Adam Satterly to 60 days in jail on Monday, but reduced the sentence to one day after Satterly apologized on Tuesday.
A courtroom video shows Satterly, who is white, using the racial epithet after Stevens, who is black, revoked Satterly’s bond on several methamphetamine charges.
Satterly’s attorney, Christopher Thurman, did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Man pleads not guilty in boy’s stabbing death
VERSAILLES (AP) — An Indiana man has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Kentucky boy during a burglary.
Media outlets report that Ronald Exantus waived formal arraignment and entered the not-guilty plea Wednesday during a court appearance in Woodford County.
A grand jury charged Exantus last month with murder, first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree assault. He’s accused of fatally stabbing Logan Dean Tipton while the child was sleeping. Other family members were injured in the attack.
The prosecutor has said he plans to seek the death penalty if Exantus is convicted.
Another hearing in the case is set for March 2.
Prosecutor eyes death penalty for man in murder, arson case
MURRAY (AP) — A prosecutor has filed a notice that his office intends to seek the death penalty in the case against a man indicted in a murder and arson case.
The Paducah Sun reports Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship filed the notice Tuesday. Blankenship says the decision to seek the penalty is not set in stone, but he filed the notice to give the defense time to prepare.
The suspect, 21-year-old Pascasio Y. Pacheco, appeared with his attorney in Calloway Circuit Court Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty.
Authorities arrested Pacheco Nov. 23 on counts including capital murder and first-degree arson. He was booked after firefighters found the bodies of a family of four after they extinguished a house fire Nov. 17.
2 die in fire at E.Ky. home
WEST LIBERTY (AP) — Kentucky State Police say two people have died in a residential blaze in eastern Kentucky.
A statement from police says first responders were called to the scene in West Liberty on Tuesday afternoon. The identities of those who perished weren’t released.
Wrigley Fire Chief Drexel Patrick told WKYT-TV that a neighbor called dispatch after hearing an explosion. He said firefighters arrived quickly, but the home had already collapsed.
He said one victim, woman, was found in a wheelchair. Firefighters also found five dogs that perished in the blaze.
Patrick said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but it doesn’t seem suspicious.
Morris to serve as chairman of distiller’s association
FRANKFORT (AP) — Master distiller Chris Morris of Brown-Forman has been selected as chairman of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association — the 136-year-old group that promotes the state’s bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
Morris is marking his 40th year in the industry. He will serve as the group’s chairman through December.
Morris says plenty of events and programs are planned in 2016 to promote the state’s bourbon industry.
The KDA Board of Directors selected officers during its annual meeting recently at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville.
The KDA is the state’s voice for bourbon and spirits issues. There are currently 28 members, the most since the repeal of Prohibition.