J. Tyler Franklin

The state House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would bar people, news outlets and other entities outside the commonwealth from making open records requests for Kentucky records.

House Bill 312 also expands the legislature’s exemptions from the open records act and requires all requests to be submitted on a standardized form created by the attorney general’s office.

Rep. Jason Petrie, a Republican from Elkton, said the proposal would streamline records requests, which he called a “burdensome churn of data.”

“We placed a burden many years ago upon ourselves, the government — and the taxpayers have supported — to supply information, but this simply tries to rein in what has tilted too far on the pendulum,” Petrie said.

Kara Lofton

A new analysis of flooding risk that accounts for the effects of climate change finds many more homes in Appalachian communities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are at risk of flooding than the federal government’s emergency managers have indicated.

In 12 Appalachian counties in the region, at least half of all residences are at risk, and in West Virginia one in five homes carry a high risk of flooding, according to an analysis of the data released by the nonprofit First Street Foundation

“In Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio — especially the Appalachian region — that risk has not been tracked properly,” said Jeremy Porter, head of research and development at First Street Foundation. Porter said the findings have implications for whether homeowners are properly insured against the risk of flooding damage. “People are not protected against the current climate environment.”

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky state officials said no data was stolen during a breach of the unemployment insurance system this week.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said at Thursday’s state coronavirus briefing that the breach happened Wednesday morning. The Commonwealth Office of Technology responded by implementing safeguards during the login process.

“The good news is that our Commonwealth Office of Technology and our office of unemployment recognized the issue, and they were able to prevent any intrusion into the system,” Cubbage said. “They are monitoring closely for any additional attempts, but they did stellar work in protecting our UI system from the breach. No UI user’s data was stolen.”

Ryland Barton

Republican lawmakers unveiled a bill Thursday that would make several changes to Kentucky’s elections, including instituting three days of no-excuse early voting and giving absentee voters a chance to fix their ballots if they sign them incorrectly.

The bill also includes election security measures like a ban on so-called “ballot harvesting,” where people collect and submit ballots for absentee voters. It would also make it easier for the secretary of state to cut people who have moved out of state from Kentucky’s voter rolls.

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams said he believes the bill will expand voting access while boosting election integrity.

Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg School of Public Health

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is ramping up quickly across Kentucky, with large regional centers and pharmacies providing more access.

But one of the challenges is how to vaccinate the homebound elderly.

Many Kentuckians who are homebound are in the current priority groups for vaccinations. That includes the 1B group for those over age 70, and the 1C group for those 60 and older.

The challenges for many of these older adults include a lack of computer skills, internet access or transportation.


J. Tyler Franklin

Update: 6:24 p.m.

The Kentucky Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 4, creating new limits on no-knock search warrants after a nearly two-hour discussion Tuesday evening.

During the nearly two-hour debate, lawmakers praised the bipartisan effort, but Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal said passing the bill wasn’t enough

“The problem we face goes deeper than no-knocks,” Neal said.

“We must have trust between the police and our communities. We have to go beyond what we’re doing here, which I support. We have the power, ability, intelligence and the moral standing to deal with this in a rational way,” Neal said.

Bryce Baumann

A new bill in the Kentucky legislature could ban large-scale solar projects on farmland in the state, out of fears that the growing solar industry could be a detriment to the preservation of productive farmland. But a leading solar advocate in the state believes the bill is an overreaction and could significantly hamper the dawning solar industry. 

Republican State Sen. Steve West said the bill filed Monday is his way to address a long-term problem of increasing development destroying prime farmland for future generations, with large solar installations adding to that pressure. 

“What was once an income-producing property for the people of that county, is now possibly, you could say maybe an eyesore to the neighbor,” West said. He is also concerned that solar projects could degrade the farmland where projects are placed over time.

Owensboro Public Schools FB

The Owensboro and Daviess County school boards will meet Thursday afternoon to consider the districts' plans to return to a five-day schedule of in-person classes.

Both school systems plan to welcome students back full-time on March 22. 

In a joint news conference on Wednesday, the districts said a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increasing supply of the vaccine make reopening possible. 

Daviess County Superintendent Matt Robbins said it’s important for teachers and staff to see students in-person for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

“We know they need us, and frankly, we need them, Robbins said. "There’s a lot of needs of our children from academic to mental health, social, emotional, anxiety issues. We need to see them so we can begin to diagnose those needs.”

Ryan Van Velzer

A Republican-led state House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to intervene in local cases involving protest-related charges. Supporters say it expands resources to local prosecutors. Opponents say it’s aimed at quashing the right to nonviolent protest.

The bill grants the attorney general’s office the power to initiate charges or intervene in cases involving alleged rioting, unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and a number of other charges that have been brought against protesters participating in demonstrations for racial justice in 2020. 

Some people have faced these charges for protesting in front of Cameron’s house over his handling of the Breonna Taylor case.

Facebook/Bowling Green Independent Schools

Kentucky House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would require school districts to offer all students at least two days of in-person learning a week, beginning March 29. The measure’s passage adds to mounting state-level pressure on Jefferson County Public Schools to bring students back to the classroom. 

There are just six Kentucky school districts that have not yet brought students back to the classroom, most notably JCPS, the state’s largest district. The Jefferson County Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether to move forward on a plan to bring students back after staff are fully vaccinated.

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