News in Brief


Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin to unveil budget on Jan. 26

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin will make his first budget request to the state’s General Assembly on Jan. 26.

Bevin will have had just two months since he was elected to craft a plan to account for the state’s soaring public pension debt and expanding Medicaid population.

Bevin, a businessman from Louisville who ran as a political outsider, has never held public office. He issued a statement earlier this month, complaining that he was facing a “financial crisis” left behind by former Gov. Steve Beshear.

Beshear disputed the allegation.

Bevin will deliver the State of the Commonwealth Budget Address to a joint session of the state Senate and House of Representatives at 7 p.m. Jan. 26.

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Judge orders online poker company to pay Ky. $870 million

FRANKFORT (AP) — A state judge has ordered an online poker company to pay Kentucky $870 million for violating the state’s anti-gambling laws.

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled Wednesday the PokerStars website willfully violated Kentucky’s anti-gambling laws between 2006 and 2011, where more than 34,000 people lost $5 or more stemming from more than 246 million bets.

Wingate also ordered Amaya, PokerStars parent company, to pay 12 percent interest each year until all of the money is collected. That would be an additional $104 million a year until the judgment is paid in full.

A statement from Amaya’s office of general counsel said the company would appeal the ruling. The company said it would issue a more detailed response before the markets open on Thursday.

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State ends kynect campaign with Louisville ad agency

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky has ended an advertising campaign for the state health insurance website and outreach known as kynect.

Gov. Matt Bevin has pledged to shut down the state-run site, saying Kentuckians can shop for insurance on the federal website.

The contract with Louisville ad agency Doe Anderson was not renewed after expiring Nov. 30, The Courier-Journal reported. A Bevin spokeswoman says the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, sought to extend the contract, but it was rejected by the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the administration does not know why the finance cabinet rejected the extension “but there does not appear to be any legal basis to continue the contract.”

The campaign was funded with federal money. Pamela Trautner, a spokeswoman for the state finance cabinet, was unable to provide further information Wednesday as to why the contract extension was rejected.

The kynect brand was created by Doe-Anderson to introduce Kentucky’s version of the Affordable Care Act. The campaign included broadcast advertising, billboards, bus shelter ads, brochures and community outreach events to inform the public about health coverage.

During kynect’s first two years, Kentucky achieved the sharpest decline in the nation in its rate of residents with no health coverage, dropping from 20 to 9 percent.

Sheila Schuster, a public health advocate, said she was disappointed to learn the kynect campaign has been canceled midway through the current health insurance enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31.

“It really makes no sense,” said Schuster, chairwoman of Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of health advocacy groups. “Why would the state not want people to know they have this option?”

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Last 2 victims identified in Christian Co. triple killing

PEMBROKE (AP) — The Christian County Sheriff’s Department has released the identities of two bodies found inside a badly burned car discovered in a field near Pembroke.

Media outlets report that the bodies, found Nov. 19, have been identified as 58-year-old Pamela J. Phillips and 63-year-old Ed Dansereau.

The sheriff’s department said in a release that Phillips and Dansereau were shot to death before the car was set ablaze.

Pamela Phillips was the wife of Cal Phillips, who was found shot to death in the cellar of his home. Dansereau was the Phillips’ neighbor.

The release says authorities have sent evidence collected at all three scenes — the field where the car was found, the Phillips’ home and Danereau’s house — to Kentucky State Police for testing as they conduct interviews.

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Old Christmas trees to be used for fish habitat

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting donated Christmas trees after the holidays to use as underwater habitat for fish.

The trees must be real. The agency is accepting the donated trees in 26 counties through Jan. 15.

The trees must be free of lights, ornaments, tinsel, garland and any decorations.

Fisheries collect the donated trees and bundle them to create fish attractors that will be submerged in lakes across the state. They attract baitfish and algae, providing food for young fish and other aquatic organisms.

To find a donation location, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and type in the keyword, “Christmas.”

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