State News in Brief

Senate GOP leader McConnell blames Zika impasse on Clinton

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blaming what he calls are “Clinton Democrats” for a Senate standoff that’s blocked President Barack Obama’s request for money to fight the Zika virus.

Congress is now on a seven-week recess, and left Washington without acting on the Zika money. Democrats objected to a GOP proposal that would block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from getting money to fight the virus.

McConnell is blaming the impasses on Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

The Kentucky lawmaker is speaking later Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Some of his remarks are being released beforehand.

McConnell says he wonders what Democrats “think public service is about.” He says the presidential election will answer this basic question: “Who is looking out for us?”


Bevin wants foster care settlement thrown out

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration wants a judge to throw out a court settlement made under former Gov. Steve Beshear that would ensure that church-run foster care programs don’t try to proselytize to children.

The Courier-Journal reports Bevin’s administration this week asked a judge to toss out the settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The administration says the state’s position has changed now that Bevin’s in office.

But Americans United attorney Alex Luchenitser says the state cannot change course on the settlement forged by Beshear’s administration, calling it a “binding agreement.”

The state agreed in 2014 to let Americans United and the ACLU access surveys and exit interviews with children to ensure foster programs aren’t trying to convert children.


Report: 101st soldier’s training death preventable

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — U.S. Army investigators have concluded that a 101st Airborne Division soldier’s death during a training exercise last year was preventable.

Citing Army documents, The Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville reports that the fatal shooting of Spc. Kevin J. Rodriguez at Fort Campbell was preceded by a soldier’s failure to account for his possession of live ammunition and unit leaders’ failure to conduct brass and ammo checks.

Documents state that Rodriguez was participating in a blank-fire training exercise Oct. 6 when a soldier fired at Rodriguez. Two live rounds struck Rodriguez in his chest protector while a third struck his upper left arm and chest area and entered his heart, killing him.

The name of the soldier who killed Rodriguez was redacted in the documents, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.


Former US Rep. Ben Chandler to lead heath foundation

FRANKFORT (AP) — Former Congressman Ben Chandler has been named president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Media outlets report he will assume the role in September. The nonpartisan organization seeks to address health care needs by developing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity.

Chandler, a Democrat who represented Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District from 2004 to 2013, also served terms as attorney general and auditor in Kentucky. He will step down as director of the Kentucky Humanities Council to take on the new role.

He will replace Susan Zepada, who has led the agency since 2005.


Boyd Co. voters to vote on packaged alcohol sales

CATLETTSBURG (AP) — Voters in Boyd County will get to decide whether to allow sales of packaged alcohol in gas stations, convenience stores and other businesses.

The Independent reports a special election will be held in the county on Aug. 23. A petition for the election was verified Tuesday.

Since 2007, alcohol has been available in Boyd County restaurants that seat more than 100 people and earn at least 70 percent of their income from food sales.


Instructor sentenced to 5 years in prison for sexual abuse

OWENSBORO (AP) — A former color guard instructor at a western Kentucky high school has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing several male and female students over three years.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports that 28-year-old Justin T. Graham of Newburgh was sentenced Monday at a hearing attended by the victims and their families.

Graham is a former color guard instructor at Apollo High School in Owensboro. He pleaded guilty in May to one count of felony first-degree sexual abuse and five amended counts of felony second-degree unlawful transaction with a minor.

Prosecutors said the abuse took place over a three-year period beginning in 2011 and involved at least five students.

After serving his sentence, Graham must register as a sex offender for 20 years.


Authorities: 2 found dead after western Ky. house fire

MURRAY (AP) — The Kentucky State Police are investigating the deaths of two people whose bodies were discovered after a house fire in western Kentucky.

State police spokesman Michael Robichaud tells news outlets that 51-year-old Linda Whittenberg and an unidentified male were found dead Tuesday afternoon by firefighters inside an eastern Calloway County home.

Robichaud says Whittenberg, of Murray, did not live at the residence.

The bodies are being sent to Louisville for an autopsy, which Robichaud says should help determine if foul play was involved.

It is unclear what caused the fire.

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