State News in Brief

Ky. Senate moves bills promoting religious expression

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky state Senate is taking action on bills designed to promote religious expression in public schools and businesses.

A Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill that would allow public schools to put on artistic or theatrical programs with religious themes. The bill is in response to a Johnson County Elementary School that removed biblical passages from a student production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last year.

The committee also approved a bill that would shield businesses and ministers from being forced to do things contrary to their religious beliefs. The bill comes after the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ordered a Christian t-shirt company to print shirts for a gay pride festival. A state judge overturned the order. The Kentucky Court of Appeals is reviewing the case.


Senate bill would increase penalties for dealing heroin

FRANKFORT (AP) — Anyone convicted of selling any amount of heroin for the first time would be a felon in Kentucky under a bill that has cleared the state Senate.

The Senate voted 31-6 to approve the bill on Wednesday. Kentucky lowered penalties for some heroin dealers in 2011. Since then, heroin use has increased significantly and overdose deaths have soared.

State Sen. John Schickel of Union said he voted to lower the penalties in 2011 and has regretted it ever since. Some Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it would put low-level addicts behind bars without treating their underlying substance abuse problem.

The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives.

Last year, the legislature agreed to spend more money on substance abuse treatment and require offenders to serve more of their sentences before being paroled.


JFK letter to girl who saved pennies for DC trip up for sale

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A letter President John F. Kennedy sent to a little girl who was a big fan is up for grabs in Philadelphia.

A rare documents dealer is selling the short, typed letter to 5-year-old Rita Lynn Knight for $15,000.

The girl’s father had written Kennedy to share an anecdote about Rita hoping to use 2 cents to buy a bus ticket to Washington from her home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kennedy wrote to Rita in response. In the letter, dated March 29, 1962, Kennedy says he’s sending it “to surprise you and say ‘hello.’”

Raab Collection President Nathan Raab says the correspondence is remarkable because so few letters from Kennedy to children have survived.

The dealer was unable to find any current information on Rita Knight.


Kentucky State Police partners with quilters to help vets

HAZARD (AP) — Kentucky State Police in Hazard are partnering with a group of quilt makers to assist veterans.

A statement from police says troopers will pick up the finished quilts and deliver them to the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard.

The Kentucky River Area Quilt Makers have been making lap quilts for veterans, but many members are elderly, on a tight budget and dealing with health issues. Quilt maker Audrey Combs, who is also the mother of a state trooper, suggested that quilters call the KSP post when they finish a quilt.

Police Capt. Blake Sloan said the post is honored to help veterans and elderly residents in the area. He said it allows troopers to patrol areas they aren’t usually in and to forge good relationships with the community.


Old Crow Medicine Show, Marty Stuart to play bluegrass show

OWENSBORO (AP) — Organizers of the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s annual concert fundraiser say Old Crow Medicine Show, Lee Ann Womack and Marty Stuart have been added to the show’s lineup.

The annual ROMP Festival will be held at Owensboro’s Yellow Creek Park in June. It’s the festival’s 13th year.

Other additions to the lineup include Billy Strings, a reunion of Louisville-based group, 23 String Band, and Nashville bluegrass band, Sheriff Scott & the Deputies.

The Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush Band and Steep Canyon Rangers are already signed up to play at the event.

Weekend passes are currently on sale through and Ticketleap.

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