Friday, February 16, 2001

Kentucky News Briefs

Medicaid program takes turn for worse

        FRANKFORT — Kentucky's Medicaid program is in worse financial condition than first thought, the state budget director and other officials said Thursday.

        They said the program, which ensures health care for the poor and disabled, stands to run more than $360 million over budget in the next 16 months without cuts or creative financing — $68 million more than was estimated two weeks ago.

        “We don't want to cut any providers. We don't want to cut any services. We're looking at everything we can look at,” Budget Director James Ramsey told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

        The committee was less than sympathetic. It approved a bill that, if enacted, would undo one of the economies already taken — a cut in fees that pharmacists are paid for dispensing Medicaid prescriptions.

        The administration counted on saving $10 million with that cut, which took effect Jan. 16 by emergency regulation. Committee Chairwoman Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said she understood the administration's concern. “But I also don't think it's fair to balance the budget on the backs of ... the poor pharmacists,” Ms. Denton said.

Senate rejects try to kill alcohol law

        FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Senate handily defeated a bill Thursday that would have repealed a new law that allows voters the option to legalize alcohol sales at restaurants in dry territory.

        The struggle between “wet” and “dry” forces has escalated since the law took effect last year. It prompted a series of local-option elections that produced mixed results. Voters in some counties or communities allowed limited liquor sales while others opted to stay dry.

        Sen. Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs, led the fight for the law's repeal. He said the local-option elections allow a portion of the county's voters to dictate whether to legalize alcohol sales.

        “Is it fair for the majority of a large county to decide to ban alcohol sales and then for a single, small precinct in that county to vote the opposite way and put their rule on the entire county?” Mr. McGaha said. “I will submit to you that is absolutely not fair.”

House panel OKs garbage proposal

        FRANKFORT — Cost and privacy considerations, plus the threat of losing state road aid, were among the primary concerns Thursday of House committee members who nevertheless approved a proposal to force counties to clean up their dumps or pick up household trash at the curb.

        The comments accompanying the 14-2 vote by the Natural Resources and Environment Committee showed a lot of work remains to be done on the bill before it goes much further.

        The bill would give a county two options. Either it could clean up illegal dumps or provide curbside collection, through its own apparatus or through contract trash haulers.

Attempt to curb cell phones in cars fails

        FRANKFORT — A bill to prohibit people from talking on cell phones while they drive stalled out in a House committee Thursday.

        Rep. Tom Burch said people trying to do both are a road hazard.

        “When you use a cell phone, you are distracted,” said Mr. Burch, D-Louisville. “You are not concentrating on driving.”

        Mr. Burch's bill generated plenty of discussion among House Transportation Committee members. But when the time came for a motion to approve the bill, there was silence.

        Mr. Burch said he wasn't discouraged and would try again next year.

        Violators would have been fined $20 to $100. Cell phones that are voice activated and do not require the user to hold onto a handset would not have been covered.

        Mr. Burch cited police statistics that blamed cell phones for 372 traffic crashes in Kentucky in 1999, including two fatalities and 165 injuries.

        Several committee members said it was an overreach for government to prohibit cell phone conversations by motorists.

        “Government needs to stay out of my automobile,” said Rep. John Bowling, D-Danville.

House advances bill on sex offender notice

        FRANKFORT — The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to require that sheriffs notify people when sex offenders move into neighborhoods.

        If a sex offender moves to town, the sheriff would have to notify people living within the same block. If the offender moves into a rural area, people living within a quarter mile would have to be notified.

        The sheriff would also have to contact each school that requests notification in such circumstances.

        Notification could be made by mail or flier. The information would include the offender's name, address and offenses.

        Rep. Jon Draud, R-Crestview Hills, said his bill isn't meant to harass the offenders, but to inform people who deserve to know that sex offenders are living nearby.

        The bill now goes to the full House.

Student expelled over threat, porn on Net

        EDMONTON, Ky. — The Metcalfe County school system has expelled a high school freshman after officials said pornographic images and a general threat against the school were posted on the Internet.

        The student had been suspended Jan. 30 along with two other freshmen. Those two students returned to school Wednesday, Superintendent Byron Jeffries said.

        The third student was expelled for one year after a school board hearing Monday.

        All three boys still face criminal charges. Two of the juveniles are charged with three counts of terroristic threatening, three counts of harassing communications and one count of distributing obscene material to minors. The other is charged with one count of harassing communications and one count of distributing obscene material to minors. All charges are misdemeanors.

Preview coming of possible I-69 routes

        EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Possible routes for Interstate 69 through the metropolitan area of Evansville and Henderson, Ky., should be available for public review in April.

        When completed, I-69 will run through the states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.


TV ad seeking foster parents tugs at heart
Conese: Tape isn't full story
Morgue pair free on bond
Cinergy pitches in to help pay bills
Some balk at Project Thaw
RADEL: Freeman Field Mutiny made us all free
Ky. putting 69,000 patients into HMO
WELLS: Charlie Luken
Abortion coverage targeted in Delhi
Rape of 2-year-old alleged
Schools' master plan may get aid
5 arrested after auto break-ins
Attorneys prevented from soliciting before suit is served
Bottom of sludge pond only 10 feet
Burley tobacco quota may end
Cream of art travels here
Democrats challenging Kenton Co. building purchase
Ex-GM workers claim they were set up
'Kentucky Joe' stays on 'Survivor'
Kids, keep away: Sewer line unstable
Ky. cancer to be tracked nationally
N. Kentuckian takes spot on tourism board
Ohio's Shamu migrating to San Diego
School issues before Carlisle voters
State money starts to flow into two projects for Kenton County
Suit accuses officer of being 'potty Nazi'
Tot beaten to death; man held
William Shatner weds Hoosier
- Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report