News in Brief

KCTCS president says cuts require 8 percent tuition hike

FRANKFORT (AP) — The president of Kentucky’s community and technical college system says he would have to raise tuition more than 8 percent if the legislature approves Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget cuts.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education must approve all tuition increases. President Jay Box told House lawmakers Thursday that if he can’t raise tuition, the system’s 16 colleges would have to lay off 539 workers and eliminate 61 instructional programs.

Box is one of a number of college and university presidents who have criticized Bevin’s cuts.

Later, Bevin spoke at a rally in support of the community colleges. He defended his budget proposal, saying Kentucky faces a financial crisis because of public pension system shortfalls.

Bevin then signed a proclamation officially declaring it Kentucky Community and Technical College System Day.


Ky. agency suing Planned Parenthood over abortions

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is asking a judge to penalize a Louisville Planned Parenthood facility for performing abortions without a valid license.

Bevin, a staunchly anti-abortion Republican, ordered abortions halted at the downtown facility after learning last month that it was performing the procedures. Planned Parenthood says it got approval from former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, which left office in December.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services sued Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, seeking up to nearly $700,000 in fines. The lawsuit says some materials submitted with Planned Parenthood’s application were a “complete sham” and the cabinet’s former inspector general was a “sympathetic advocate willing to ignore law.”

Judi Morrison, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, says the group was reviewing the lawsuit Thursday afternoon.


Ky. Supreme Court rules in judicial campaign case

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Supreme Court has set some conditions on what types of political comments judicial candidates can make when running for judgeships.

The state’s high court ruled Thursday that it’s permissible for judicial candidates to identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans. Candidate also can refer to themselves as the only Republican or Democratic candidate for judge, if the statement is true, the court ruled.

But the court said there are restrictions on what judicial candidates can say. It says they may not try to represent themselves as the Republican or Democratic nominee for a judgeship. The ruling said they may not describe themselves as the “conservative Republican” candidate for judge.

The court stems from a lawsuit challenging a state canon putting strict conditions on campaigning in Kentucky’s nonpartisan judicial elections.


Regulator for Gov. Bevin’s office resigns from super PAC

FRANKFORT (AP) — A top regulator from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has resigned as a director of Kentucky’s major Republican super PAC after a newspaper inquired about potential conflicts in holding both roles.

K. Gail Russell resigned Wednesday as director of the super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, The Courier-Journal reported.

Russell is the deputy secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, overseeing banking, insurance, horse racing and other business.

Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause of Kentucky, said Tuesday that a top official who regulates companies that historically have been big donors to political campaigns shouldn’t also run a super PAC.

“That cabinet oversees so many different areas,” Beliles said. “I think she’s got to give up one job or the other. I think it’s a conflict.”

Jessica Ditto, a spokeswoman for Bevin’s office, said Russell wasn’t obligated to resign from the super PAC board, but did so in order to prevent any suspicions of there being a conflict of interest.

“Gail decided to go ahead and resign, which was her choice,” Kentuckians for Strong Leadership Treasurer Michael Adams said in a statement. “There was no legal or ethical problem with her serving but she apparently decided it would be best for her to fully devote her time to public service.”

Russell has been active in the Republican Party for years. She was one of three directors who in 2013 founded Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which raised and spent about $7.7 million in its independent campaign to get Sen. Mitch McConnell re-elected.


Court lets custody case pitting ex-lesbian couple to proceed

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a gay woman may proceed with her efforts to obtain joint custody of a girl borne by her ex-partner when they were still together.

The court issued its ruling Thursday.

The woman, identified as Amy, had asked the court to block adoption proceedings by her ex-partner’s husband. The girl’s mother became pregnant with the help of a sperm donor. She gave birth in 2006 when she and Amy were still a couple.

The case is among several across the country involving wrenching personal questions about what it means to be a parent under today’s ever-changing definition of family in the eyes of the law.


Breeders’ Cup spurs tourism growth in Lexington

LEXINGTON (AP) — Lexington tourism officials say the Breeders’ Cup helped spur double-digit growth in tourism last year in Kentucky’s second-largest city.

Keeneland Race Course hosted the two-day event for the first time ever last October. The event drew big crowds and was capped by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Lexington tourism officials say a growing number of local food and beverage attractions also contributed to the growth in tourism last year.

The officials say the city’s hotel room revenue was up 11 percent last year. They’re also reporting double-digit increases in hotel rooms booked through convention sales.

They say 29 new restaurants and bars opened last year, and that eight craft breweries are now on the Brewgrass Trail.


Police warn of scammers claiming to be deputies

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear warned that scammers have called dozens of Kentuckians, pretending to be a deputy and claiming they have a federal warrant for their arrest.

They offer to resolve the issue, for a small price.

Sheriffs in counties across the state joined Beshear in cautioning citizens not to fall for the trick.

The number of reports has spiked over the last month. Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey said his office alone gets as many as 50 reports a week.

Beshear said law enforcement does not contact people over the phone to inform them of federal warrants and never asks for money.

Anyone who receives one of these calls is advised to hang up and contact their local sheriff’s office or the Attorney General at 888- 432-9257.

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